Making 'Room at the Inn' For Transgender People

This is an issue that is very important to me. I have had a first hand view of transgender discrimination in a homeless shelter I stayed at while in Providence RI . That is why it give me great pleasure to post this article on please read


Task Force: Sheri A. Lunn Director of Communications; 323-857-8751 or Roberta Sklar 917-704-6358
 National Coalition for the Homeless: Donald Whitehead 202-737-6444 ext. 14

-New Guide Provides Concrete Recommendations for Shelters on How to Make Shelters Safe for Transgender People

"I don't think most Americans have any idea how much discrimination transgender people face," said Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director. "If they did, more people would be doing something about it. Transgender people who lose their jobs because of discrimination, then lose their homes because they can no longer pay the rent or mortgage, are still likely to get a 'your kind is not welcome here' from an emergency shelter. I am hopeful that this guide will be a tool for shelters to make changes so that all people have a safe and warm place to stay."

"Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People" is a joint publication of the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Earlier this year, the National Coalition for the Homeless adopted a nondiscrimination resolution covering transgender people. The guide combines the transgender expertise of the Task Force with NCH's expertise on shelters to produce a usable guide that is suitable for homeless shelters across the country.

Most homeless shelters are segregated by sex, and, most shelters, if they accept transgender residents, require that they be housed with members of the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender women who identify and live as women but were born male report that male residents harass, sexually proposition, and sometimes even assault them. Transgender men who identify and live as men but were born female are sometimes placed in men's shelters that do not have privacy in bathrooms (no stall doors) or in showers. Gender-based dress codes are also a significant problem, especially for transgender youth in shelters who can face discipline for simply dressing according to their own gender identity.

The problem of unsafe shelters for transgender people is especially alarming given the frequent and pervasive discrimination that transgender people face. For example, many transgender people are not welcome in their family home, have been harassed out of school, and cannot acquire employment. Due to this discrimination, transgender people have an increased need for social services including homeless shelters. Unfortunately, when shelter policies, other residents, and the service providers themselves discriminate, which is an all too common reality, transgender people often have no where to go.

The Guide is designed for shelters that want to provide safe shelter for transgender people but are not sure how to do so. The Guide provides many answers to concerns about safety and privacy for all shelter residents, including transgender residents, the bulk of which are addressed without monetary expenditures.

"Our goal was to ground our policy recommendations in the reality of shelter life. That is why the recommendations are based on successes at real shelters across the country," said Lisa Mottet, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Legislative Lawyer for the Transgender Civil Rights Project and lead author of the Guide. Recommendations in the Guide are primarily derived from solutions forwarded by shelters and advocates in Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

Mottet developed her expertise on making shelters safe for transgender people while working with a coalition of groups in Washington, DC. For her work, she received the "Human Services Award" from Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc., a local transgender organization.

In addition to its own distribution, the Task Force and NCH are encouraging local activists to share this guide with local homeless shelters, assist them with policy development, and provide transgender-sensitivity training for shelter staff.

"Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People" is available for free download from the Task Force publications library. (

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Transgender Civil Rights Project  provides legislative and strategy assistance, including evaluation of legislative language, to activists and organizations working to pass trans-inclusive anti-discrimination bills or to add transgender protections to existing laws.

Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the oldest national organization working to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at the local, state and national level. The Task Force trains activists and leaders and organizes broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation. The Task Force Policy Institute, the community's premiere think tank, researches and reports on critical policy issues. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, the Task Force is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society.

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