The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Transphobic RV Park Manager Sued for Demanding Tenant Present as Male

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The manager of an RV park in Davenport, Fla., is being sued by the Biden administration after he allegedly told a transgender woman she needed present as a man at the park to “avoid problems.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  announced it is charging the 21 Palms RV Resort Inc. and its owner-manager Nathan Dykgraaf, with discrimination against a former tenant and her minor child on the basis of the tenant’s gender identity.

According to the charging document, Dykgraaf sent a threatening handwritten note last year to the tenant not long after she revealed her gender identity publicly and began wearing feminine-presenting clothing in public on or around January 4, 2021.

“I have been informed of your actions to have your sex changed to a female, I am told you have started taking the necessary medication and that after a period of time your change will be completed,” Dykgraaf allegedly wrote in the note on January 13, 2021. “To avoid problems you must: 1. Act as a man 2. Talk as a man 3. Dress as a man 4. Avoid tight clothing that is revealing sexual organs. If you follow the above steps trouble will be avoided. Sincerely, Nathan D.”

The tenant, who had lived in the park since June of 2018, stopped presenting as female in order to avoid eviction and out of fear and intimidation. In March, Dykgraaf contacted HUD and wrote the tenant was “not free to engage with other tenants about her clothing and transition that makes them uncomfortable,” saying her actions were “considered disruptive to the community.”

The tenant and her child vacated the 21 Palms RV Resort in August of 2021.

“No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing,” Demetria L. McCain, principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at HUD, said in a statement announcing the charges. “Setting restrictions like these is not only unacceptable, it is illegal. This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring housing providers meet their fair housing obligations.”

“The conduct alleged here provides a clear example of unlawful discrimination,” Damon Smith, HUD’s general counsel, announced in the statement. “This Charge makes clear that the Department will take action to stop housing providers from subjecting transgender tenants to such unlawful conduct.”

The case will be heard by a United States administrative law judge. Dygraaf and the 21 Palms RV Resort may be forced to pay for damages caused by the discrimination, injunctive and other equitable relief, and other unspecified fines.

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