In 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued an Equal Access Rule. The rule made certain that many shelters provided access to people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, but contained a exception for the cases of single-sex emergency shelters with shared sleeping areas or bathrooms.
After review, HUD determined that “[t]ransgender women in particular reported that they are excluded from women’s shelters, forcing them to live on the streets or to seek shelter in male-only facilities where they’re forced to disguise their gender identity or face abuse or violence.”
This rule change is critical for transgender victims of abuse and those who need access to sometimes life-saving emergency shelters.
From HUD’s press release:
Following what had previously been a practice encouraged by HUD, providers that operate single-sex projects using funds awarded through the Department’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) will now be required to provide all individuals, including transgender individuals and other individuals who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, with access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity without being subjected to intrusive questioning or being asked to provide documentation.
“Today, we take another important step to ensure full acceptance of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the programs HUD supports,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “This new rule will ensure equal access to the very programs that help to prevent homelessness for persons who are routinely forced to choose between being placed in facilities against their gender identity or living on our streets.”