Discrimination in Social Services

Biden Administration Axes Trump-Era HUD Rule That Attacked Transgender Rights

  Rob Boston

The administration of former President Donald Trump was notorious for putting into place rules and regulations that harmed LGBTQ people and undermined their rights. One by one, President Joe Biden has been rolling back Trump’s harmful policies.

The latest to fall is a particularly cruel provision proposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under former Secretary Ben Carson that could have led to transgender people being denied access to federally funded homeless shelters, and subjected to harassment in the process. 

Trump sought to weaken what’s known as the Equal Access Rule. This policy, first enacted during the presidency of Barack Obama, guarantees that people in need of emergency housing have equal access to federally funded shelters and facilities regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Had the Trump rule been put in place, staff members at federally funded shelters would have been able to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to refuse service to transgender people. Shelters also would also have been allowed to assign transgender people space based on their sex as assigned at birth as opposed to their current gender identity. It would also have permitted personnel at these shelters to engage in intrusive questioning to determine a person’s sex at birth.

Trump sought to undermine the Equal Access Rule to appease his base of Christian nationalists, who have been attacking transgender rights as the latest front in their culture wars. Had it been implemented, the change would have resulted in real harm to real people. Trump and his allies simply didn’t care.

In announcing that HUD pulled the plug on the the Trump policy proposal, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “Access to safe, stable housing – and shelter – is a basic necessity. Unfortunately, transgender and gender non-conforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cis-gender people. Today, we are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity. HUD is open for business for all.”

The Trump-Carson policy would have furthered religious discrimination on the taxpayers’ dime, but it was also simply mean-spirited. The Biden administration’s decision to ditch the rule is a loss for Christian nationalists, but it’s a win for all Americans who care about fairness, equality and decency.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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