WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided new guidance on the Fair Housing Act, instructing HUD staff that discrimination against transgender people can be addressed under the law’s existing ban on gender discrimination. The policy decision offers additional help to transgender people who experience discrimination.
“Ending discrimination in housing is absolutely vital. Everyone deserves to have a safe home where they do not have to worry about eviction or harassment simply because of their gender identity,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Many thanks to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, his department and President Obama for their leadership working to ensure fairness in housing for LGBT people and for this important step forward.”
Last October, HUD announced a series of initiatives to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the country’s housing. These commitments included requiring all applicants for HUD grants to comply with state and local non-discrimination laws, developing regulations to clarify the inclusion of LGBT families in HUD programs, and planning a groundbreaking national study of anti-LGBT housing discrimination.
Housing bias is a serious concern for transgender people. A joint survey of transgender individuals conducted last year by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that nearly one-fifth of respondents had been homeless at some point because of their gender identity, a staggeringly high number.
While sexual orientation and gender identity are not specifically named in the Fair Housing Act, HUD explained that transgender people are often covered by the ban on gender discrimination, and that discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people might be covered by other aspects of the law.
For example, discrimination against a gay man who has HIV, or is thought to have HIV, could be a violation of federal laws banning disability discrimination, while a woman who is discriminated against because she wears masculine clothing might be covered under the provisions that bar gender discrimination.
In addition, HUD re-stated its commitment to work closely with state and local jurisdictions that include sexual orientation and gender identity in their housing laws to insure that people residing in those areas are aware of their rights.
If you are currently experiencing housing discrimination or feel you have in the past, contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 for assistance.
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