Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is back with more anti-transgender rhetoric, saying his department is backtracking on antidiscrimination protections for trans people because their presence in homeless shelters makes others feel uncomfortable, with the implication that trans people somehow pose a threat.
The notoriously anti-LGBT former presidential aspirant made the remarks this morning at a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. He was discussing last year’s removal of brochures from the HUD website that offered guidelines for homeless shelters on how to avoid discrimination against transgender people, reports Talking Points Memo.
Carson said he and HUD’s general counsel were scrutinizing the language to see if it ensured “equal rights for the women in the shelters and shelters where there are men and their equal rights. … We want to look at things that really provide for everybody and doesn’t impede the rights of one for the sake of the other. It’s a complex issue.”
Asked how assuring equal rights for trans people would interfere with anyone else’s rights, he responded, “There are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and somebody who had a very different anatomy,” according to TPM.
Painting transgender people as a threat to others is nothing new for Carson. In 2015, he endorsed the idea of separate public restrooms for trans people. In 2016, he dismissed trans individuals as “a few people who perhaps are abnormal” and said that assuring their equal treatment amounted to “extra rights,” and he reiterated the "extra rights" remark in his confirmation hearing in 2017. His latest comment ignores the fact that hundreds of studies have shown trans people are no threat to cisgender people, while trans people have a high rate of homelessness and often suffer assault and other forms of mistreatment in shelters. And just this month, HUD changed its mission statement to remove language about building “inclusive communities … free from discrimination.”
GLAAD quickly released a statement condemning Carson’s latest remarks. “It is because of derogatory myths like this, which have been debunked time and time again, that the transgender community faces disproportionate levels of discrimination and homelessness.” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Today’s blatant and factually inaccurate anti-transgender rhetoric is the latest in a long line of uninformed and biased statements about LGBTQ people that make Dr. Carson unfit to be the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”