Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and nine other senators in introducing new legislation to block a proposed rule at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would strip away protections for homeless transgender people. The bill, the Ensuring Equal Access to Shelter Act, is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
“This Administration’s heartless proposed rule allowing homeless shelters to turn away transgender individuals could put thousands of homeless youth and adults at risk in Nevada, and throughout the country. We need to stand up for our transgender community members, especially those in need of basic necessities like shelter, food and security. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure vulnerable transgender Americans receive the support they need to stay safe and healthy.”
The Administration’s proposed HUD policy would allow federally funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people or force transgender women into male shelters. The new proposal rolls back the Equal Access Rule, first implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012, which ensured HUD shelters did not discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The transgender community experiences high rates of housing discrimination and homelessness. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five transgender individuals experience homelessness in their lives, with family rejection and discrimination as leading factors.
The Ensuring Equal Access to Shelter Act has the support of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Center for American Progress, Corporation for Supportive Housing, National Women’s Law Center, National Center for Transgender Equality, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, ACLU, and National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.