Federal Government Proposes Stronger Protections for Transgender Folks in Shelters

Nov 2015

Secretary Castro announces proposed Gender Identity RuleHUD’s new, proposed Gender Identity Rule would ensure transgender men and women seeking shelter receive the proper services that respect their identity. Learn more → hud.gov/lgbt

Posted by Secretary Julián Castro on Friday, November 20, 2015


Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would require emergency shelters to house transgender folks based on their gender identity.

The proposed rule is an update to HUD’s 2012 rule (Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity), which protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from identity-based discrimination while seeking public housing or housing assistance from the federal government. Under the new rule, HUD would provide access to housing and services based off of a persons gender identity, not the gender they were assigned at birth.

“A person seeking shelter is already in a very vulnerable situation, and they deserve to be treated with dignity when they request our assistance,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “This rule takes us one step closer to full acceptance of transgender men and women, and will ensure they receive the proper services that respect their identity.”

Let’s put it into perspective: Jordan is a young woman experiencing homelessness. She’s also transgender. She visits her local emergency shelter, looking for a place to stay. The staff at the shelter welcomes her, but assigns her to stay in the male wing, as her driver’s license incorrectly says she is male. This puts Jordan in a difficult and potentially dangerous situation. Does she stay in the men’s wing of the shelter and risk judgement, abuse, and violence? Or does she leave the shelter and stay on the street, risking abuse, violence, and the elements? Under HUD’s new rule, Jordan would be able to say in the female wing while she gets back on her feet.

“Transgender people’s lives are at risk all over the country today because shelters refuse to house them appropriately,” said Lisa Mottet of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “This action by HUD advances a common-sense approach that has worked in many communities for over a decade.”

Needs of Transgender Youth Experiencing Homelessness


In our research, we’ve found housing to be the most frequently cited need of transgender youth experiencing homelessness, followed by access to transition related supports. Transition related supports include access to legal support, name/gender marker change, access to healthcare specific to transgender youth, access to hormones, and emotional support. HUD’s new rule would not only make housing more accessible to transgender young people experiencing homelessness, but also make things like incorrect government-issued IDs less of a barrier while looking for housing and services.

HUD’s announcement comes on Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international day held every November 20 to remember those who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence. This proposed rule would be a welcome change in a year marked by record violence against transgender Americans (especially transgender women of color). As a painful 2015 draws to a close, it’s important we celebrate the progress that was made this year, recognize the work we still need to do, and strive for a brighter tomorrow in remembrance of those we lost.

Secretary Castro will be hosting a Twitter chat with the White House on LGBT issues on Monday, November 23rd @ 4pm ET. Mark your callendar! The proposed rule is sure to be discussed.

If you believe that you’ve experienced (or are about to experience) housing discrimination, please contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You can also file a housing discrimination complaint online.