On October 21, a new regulation went into effect for shelters funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that makes clear all individuals seeking shelter should be welcomed and respected in accordance with their gender identity. This rule codifies previous guidance that HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced at our 2015 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness.
The Alliance welcomes this rule. It will promote safety, fairness, and dignity for all individuals seeking shelter. In the past, too many shelters turned transgender people away or would not shelter them based on who they know themselves to be. These responses have often been driven by a lack of understanding, which can hinder a community’s efforts to end homelessness.
Recently, a coalition of more than 300 anti-sexual assault and domestic violence organizations — including rape crisis shelters — published a statement supporting laws and policies that respect transgender people’s gender identity. They rejected the myth that fairness for transgender people’s endangers the safety or privacy of others. The Alliance takes the same stand, informed by the experience of shelters around the country.
There is still a lot of work to do to address homelessness disproportionately experienced by LGBTQ youth and adults. We need to work with families to address and prevent the conflicts that often push youth onto the streets, and invest in connecting every person with stable housing. But in the meantime, we need to make sure that access to shelter is safe and fair.
Register for HUD’s trainings in November on the new regulation, and check out their resources for shelters and transitional housing programs looking to ensure their programs are transgender-inclusive.