Trans Woman Claims Housing Discrimination by Salvation Army
BY Trudy Ring
May 04 2014 8:59 PM ET
A transgender woman has filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office after reportedly having been turned down by the Salvation Army for a two-year housing program because she had not yet undergone gender-reassignment surgery.
Jodielynn Wiley, who fled Paris, Texas, for Dallas in February after receiving death threats, had found emergency shelter at the Salvation Army’s Carr P. Collins Social Service Center in Dallas, the Dallas Voice reported Friday. In mid-April, when her time in this program was about to run out, she discussed her options with a Salvation Army case worker and a counselor.
She was told about the two-year program, in which she would have shared a room with a woman, and they would have shared a bathroom with two other women. The case worker asked if Wiley had undergone gender-reassignment surgery. “After I said no, she said, ‘Well, that’s why we can’t give you a room,’” Wiley told the Voice. “It was putting me in an uncomfortable situation and very rude.”
Trans Pride Initiative president Nell Gaither, who joined in the meeting via phone, told the case worker and counselor they were “requiring a special condition that they wouldn’t require of another person.”
Wiley filed a complaint with the city’s Fair Housing Office, charging that the Salvation Army violated Dallas’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Fair Housing spokesman Calvin McAllister said the complaint will be investigated.
Blake Fetterman, operations director at Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, said she was surprised by the complaint because the line of questioning to which Wiley was allegedly subjected would violate the Salvation Army’s own nondiscrimination policy.
“What you describe is not in keeping with our nondiscrimination policies,” she told the Voice. “Clients receive services and placement with their self-identified gender.” She added, “I have to trust that my staff know how we provide services and provide them in keeping with our policies. And if they’re not, then that’s an internal issue. That’s something that we have to deal with.”
Wiley has since found housing with another transgender woman through the new Dallas Trans* Shared Housing Project established by Gaither to provide trans-friendly shared accommodations to transgender people in need of a home.