WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and LGBTQ+ advocates are still fighting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposal to allow federally funded shelters to deny transgender people housing.
Wexton and over 100 others penned a letter to HUD and Secretary Ben Carson opposing the proposal, and on Monday she urged others to do so before the September 22 deadline. The legislation was proposed in 2019 and would reverse the 2012 Equal Access Rule. Carson and the Trump Administration claim biological women in shelters may feel endangered by sharing their housing with transgender women. Wexton says about 300 domestic violence shelters across the country have rejected that argument. The congresswoman is asking Carson to provide other justification for the policy.
True Colors United, which launched the Housing Saves Lives Campaign in response to the proposed rollback, is leading a National Week of Action against it. Dylan Waguespack is True Colors United’s Director of Public Policy and External Affairs. “It’s deeply alarming that HUD would be spending their time right now looking for new ways to allow discrimination against transgender people at a time when their grantees are at the frontlines of this pandemic working to prevent community spread and preserve the health of people experiencing homelessness,” said Waguespack.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports chronic illness, HIV, and self harm are more common among trans folks without access to shelter.
Gillian Branstetter, Media Manager for National Women’s Law Center, says transgender women are at higher risk for violence if they’re denied shelter. She named a few murder victims, including Puerto Rican Alexa Luciano and Californian Marilyn Cazares, both homeless, and Tete Gulley, whose body was found hanging from a tree in Portland. “All of these women were women of color. They were daughters, sisters, mentors and all of them deserve far more than a hashtag, a headline, and a press release,” Branstetter said.
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