HUD Proposed Rule Would Strengthen Gender Identity Protections

On November 20, HUD released a proposed rule that would allow transgender people or those who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth to access HUD-supported programs, benefits, services and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity.

HUD developed the “Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs Rule (Gender Identity Rule)” after the agency reviewed and monitored the implementation of its 2012 Equal Access Rule. That rule ensures that housing assisted or insured by HUD is open to all eligible individuals and families without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

During its review of the Equal Access Rule, homeless service providers reported to HUD that many transgender shelter-seekers would rather sleep on the street than stay in a shelter designated for their assigned sex at birth. HUD’s new rule would require recipients and sub-recipients of resources from HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, as well as owners, operators, and managers of HUD-funded shelters, buildings, and facilities with shared sleeping quarters or shared bathrooms, to accommodate transgender individuals according to their gender identity.

The new rule also eliminates the Equal Access Rule’s prohibition on inquiries related to sexual orientation or gender identity, but maintains the prohibition against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prior to this change, there was only a limited exception for inquiring about the sex of an individual to determine the eligibility for housing provided in temporary emergency shelters with shared sleeping areas or bathrooms, or to determine the number of bedrooms a household might need. After reviewing this policy, HUD determined that such a prohibition “may hinder a provider from making an appropriate placement decision for fear of violating the rule.”

In addition, the proposed rule would amend the definition of gender identity to clarify the difference between actual and perceived gender identity. A person’s actual gender identify may differ from others’ perceptions of the individual’s gender.    

"A person seeking shelter is already in a very vulnerable situation, and they deserve to be treated with dignity when they request our assistance," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro. "This rule takes us one step closer to full acceptance of transgender men and women, and will ensure they receive the proper services that respect their identity."

The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule is January 19, 2016.

Read the proposed rule here:

Read the HUD press release here: