A resolution condemning transphobic remarks by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has been introduced in the House.
U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Katie Hill, D-Calif., introduced the resolution slamming Carson for remarks made in San Francisco about "big, hairy men" seeking to enter women's homeless shelters.
Hill is cochair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, where Quigley serves as vice chair. They both expressed anger at suggestions by Carson that society doesn't know the difference between men and women anymore.
"Secretary Carson's history of homophobia and transphobia go beyond simply being offensive," Quigley said. "They are completely unacceptable for the federal official responsible for ensuring minority populations have access to safe, secure housing. At a minimum, he owes an apology to the staff he subjected to his bigoted remarks, to trans individuals around the country, and to the entire LGBT community."
"It is clearer than ever that Secretary Carson's bigoted views make him unfit to lead HUD and the record must reflect that this Congress does not condone such intolerance," he continued.
Hill hails from the state where Carson's remarks were made. She said the remarks were not just hurtful but dangerous.
"I spent my entire career working in homelessness services where I saw over and over how disproportionately transgender individuals, particularly trans women, experience housing insecurity," she said. "Secretary Carson's comments were hurtful, bigoted, and do not represent the feelings of this Congress, which has a historically large and diverse LGBT Equality Caucus, or the American people. I am proud to join Representative Quigley in this resolution to condemn Secretary Carson's history of transphobic comments and policies."
At the time of the incident, a HUD spokesman told The Washington PostCarson had referred to cisgender men posing as women to just get into the shelter -- not to transgender women.
"The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false," the spokesperson said. It should be noted that "transgendered" is not the appropriate term to refer to a transgender person.
But other HUD employees told the Post Carson's comments were widely perceived as anti-trans.
"The sentiment conveyed was these were not women, and they should not be housed in single-sex shelters -- like we shouldn't force people to accept transgender people in this context because it makes other people uncomfortable," an unidentified employee told the newspaper.