The shelters were spread across four states: Connecticut, Washington, Tennessee, and Virginia.
While accessing homeless shelters is difficult for anyone, transgender women face particular issues and barriers that have yet to be addressed. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, sought to remedy this through the Equal Access Rule, or EAR, which makes it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals and families in any housing that receives funding from HUD or is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, regardless of local laws.Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people are not explicitly protected from discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act. As currently written, EAR prohibits inquiries into an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity and does not address the right of transgender shelter-seekers to access shelter in accordance with their gender identity.For the shelters in Washington, the test caller was instructed to attempt the test with the standard assigned methodology.If the test caller was told to call the central referral line, she stated that 211 suggested that she contact the shelter directly to see if she could be accommodated before going through the intake process.The Center for American Progress and the Equal Rights Center, or ERC, recently conducted telephone tests on 100 homeless shelters across four states.
The tests measured the degree to which transgender homeless women can access shelter in accordance with their gender identity, as well as the types of discrimination and mistreatment they face in the process.The shelter employee referred to test caller as “sir” throughout the call.The test caller was told that she would have to be housed with men if she had not had surgery.The test caller introduced herself as a transgender woman who was homeless and in need of shelter.She then asked about the availability of a bed and the shelter’s willingness to house her with other women.Two states—Connecticut and Washington—have gender identity nondiscrimination protections, while the other two—Tennessee and Virginia—lack them.