The Trump administration made a concerted effort to remove the protections and rights of the LGBTQ community. This effort began on the day of President Trump’s inauguration in 2017 when the administration removed all mention of LGBTQ people from the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor websites. HUD was one of the first agencies to enact the Trump administration’s anti-transgender agenda. In March of 2017, it withdrew two Obama-era HUD efforts to protect LGBTQ people from experiencing homelessness.
In 2019, HUD announced its plans to gut protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming people experiencing homelessness by removing a crucial provision in the Equal Access Rule of 2016 – one day after former HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House Financial Services Committee that no such changes would be made.
This anti-transgender proposal directly targeted a group that has historically and disproportionally suffered from the hardships of homelessness. Transgender individuals are far more likely than the general population to experience homelessness and discrimination while seeking emergency shelter services. According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, nearly one-third of transgender people experience homelessness at some point in their life and 70% reported mistreatment in a shelter due to their gender identity. Only 50% of the LGTBQ+ population lives in states prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Of the 19% of transgender people who reported experiencing homelessness in their lifetime, 41% were Black, 33% were American Indian, 32% were multiracial, and 32% were Latino. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionality affected people who are historically marginalized, and the new HUD rule would have worsened the pandemic’s already negative effects on young transgender women of color - a population already vulnerable to severe marginalization, hostility, and violence while in shelters not designed for the LGBTQ community.
Housing Saves Lives Campaign
In response to the proposed rule, the “Housing Saves Lives” campaign was launched and co-led by over 50 national and local organizations, including NLIHC, to encourage the public to submit comments opposing the rule during the 60-day comment period. The campaign worked with members of Congress to urge HUD to rescind the rule, hosted a Week of Action with an array of national events, recruited mayors and other public officials from across the nation to submit public comments and a letter opposing the rule, submitted op-eds, and contributed to news articles. More than 66,000 public comments were submitted during the 60-day period, becoming the largest comment campaign on a HUD regulation ever.
What’s Next: the Biden Administration’s Commitment to LGBTQ Equality
This proposed rule was never published due in part to the success of the Housing Saves Lives campaign and the collaboration of advocates to oppose the new rule. The incoming Biden Administration and HUD Secretary-designate Marcia Fudge will have the ability to withdraw any rules that have yet been published to the Federal Register.
The Biden/Harris campaign has expressed their plan to advance LGBTQ equality in America and around the world. It is important that the new administration and the 117th Congress immediately:
- Pass the “Equality Act”, which would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
- Urge all agencies to rescind anti-LGBTQ regulations made by the Trump administration.
- Address the housing and emergency shelter needs of the LGBTQ community.
- Address issues of discrimination and violence against transgender people, especially Black and Latino transwomen.