Letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding the rollback of protections for transgender people seeking safe housing

September 22, 2020

The Trump administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is looking to rollback protections for transgender people seeking a safe place to stay. GLAAD joins dozens of legal, housing, youth, community, and LGBTQ advocates in calling for this proposed rule change to be withdrawn. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis has submitted the following and you can add your comment for HUD here. Housing saves lives.


September 22, 2020

Dear Office of General Counsel,

On behalf of GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, I am writing in response to the proposed rule change by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, posted to the Federal Register in July (RIN 2506-AC53; HUD Docket No. FR-6152-P-01). This proposal, “Making Admission or Placement Determinations Based on Sex in Facilities Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs,” must be entirely withdrawn based on its discriminatory nature, harmful consequences, and lack of data to support the rule change.

In our work directly with transgender people, we bear witness to the cruelty they face daily and the violence threatening their existence. In our work monitoring the media for fair, accurate and respectful coverage of transgender people, we see the life-threatening challenges they face coupled with police and media misrepresentation that further pushes them to the margins as they struggle for recognition. We know that nearly one in three transgender Americans have been homeless at some point in their lives, according to a 2015 survey. Trans people are disproportionately affected by violence, with at least 28 people killed this year, that we even know about. They face outsized discrimination in finding adequately paying employment, education to improve opportunities, and when seeking housing, the sheer basics of human existence, placing them at extraordinary risk when any of these foundational aspects are threatened. 

To propose a rule change, let alone enact it as reports have described, during a deadly, out of control pandemic and economic crisis, defies basic humanity and common sense as well as the mission of HUD to create strong, inclusive communities. Transgender people are among the most vulnerable human beings, who simply seek to be who they are. Enacting a rule that would allow taxpayer-supported shelters to turn them away in their moment of greatest need, based on a subjective interpretation of gender rather than the person’s own self-identification, would be unconscionable and life-threatening. To sanction forcing transgender people to be placed in a shelter that does not match their gender identity places them at greater risk for sexual and physical violence in the misgendered shelter and out on the street. To do so based in bias, and an unfounded, undocumented and unsupported theory about supposed risk to shelter residents who are not transgender, allows inaccurate and bigoted views to propagate, putting even more people at risk. 

We urge you to maintain the Equal Access Rule’s protections against discrimination based on gender identity and expression.


Sarah Kate Ellis
President and CEO