Earlier this summer, the federal administration announced a proposed rule that would gut protections for transgender people by removing critical equal access protections meant to ensure the safety of anyone in need of HUD-funded programs, including transgender people seeking to access homeless shelters consistent with their gender identity. By allowing shelters to consider factors such as religious beliefs and sex stereotypes in determining whether or not to house a transgender person. This is especially dangerous as our Country continues to work together to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19. The consequences of being turned away from a shelter can be dire.
The letter -- which was coordinated by the National Center for Transgender Equality -- reads, in part:
"As leaders of boroughs, towns, and cities, we oppose rule changes that will impede our ability to protect our constituents and provide necessary shelter. ... Discrimination is never okay, but this proposal is particularly dangerous as our nation continues to struggle to suppress a national and global health crisis that has cost the lives of over 180,000 people across this nation. ... As the death toll continues to rise, we know firsthand how this pandemic has overburdened our social and medical systems and impacted our constituents, many of whom may not have access to stable housing. ... For transgender people, increasing barriers to health care and health care coverage is especially harmful during this public health crisis."
Mayor Sarno stated, “More than ever, in this unprecedented and surreal time of global pandemic and economic uncertainty, everyone should have access to safe housing and shelter when in need. Transgender Americans face high rates of discrimination when seeking housing, employment, and health care even in the best of times; and those rates are even higher for Black, Indigenous, or people of color who are transgender. The federal government should be easing the difficulties of the current climate, not rolling back existing protections to make it harder for Americans to take care of themselves. This proposed reversal is cruel and un-American. As mayors, we continue to support all of our residents, including those who are LGBTQ, and commit to doing our best to provide lifesaving services for everyone who needs them."
Mayor Sarno is a member of Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination, a national bipartisan coalition of more than 400 municipal leaders dedicated to securing inclusive nondiscrimination protections for all Americans, including LGBTQ people, at all levels of government.