Although an unlikely source, the platform Tik Tok recently cast a light on transphobia in a potential housing bill. A Tik Tok user posted an informational video about the potential bill, which racked up to over 35 thousand likes and 26 thousand shares. This user additionally received over one thousand comments with others asking permission to repost this video and having open discussions about the bill.
The Office of the Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a document titled, “Making Admission or Placement Determinations Based on Sex in Facilities Under Community Planning and Development Housing Programs.” In short, this new document gives homeless centers the right to turn away people based on the perception that the homeless person may be transgender.
The bill is lengthy but has some crucial points. HUD published a rule in 2012 titled the “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity,” which prevented homeless shelters to directly ask a person on their gender or sexuality, except if in the case of an emergency or in temporary shelter. This rule was responsible for making homeless shelters non-discriminatory and tailored specifically to the transgender recipients.
“This policy is nothing more than a license for shelter providers to discriminate against transgender Americans.” https://t.co/1zd1X3tSlQ
— them. (@them) August 27, 2020
However, HUD decided to update this legislation. Instead, providers are now allowed to consider biological sex when reviewing folks attempting to enter the center. The document states that homeless shelters are still welcome to place individuals in locations due to gender identity, but that biological sex is a factor in admitting a person. HUD justifies this with the fact that there are single-sex or sex-specific shelters who are designed for biologically female individuals and who are resistant to having to house biologically male individuals who self-identify as females.
Another factor is that homeless shelters need to rely on the fact that the people coming in the shelter is, in fact, transgender and not lying, that the transgender individuals keep the shelter a modest and private place due to children being nearby, and in taking in a person’s physical appearance to see if the person is of biological sex separate from their gender.
The final factors are that for some religious shelters it goes against their belief that a person can be transgender and does not wish to house a transgender person; that women who enter shelters are survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault cannot be living beside transgender women where indecent/accidental exposure takes place is hurtful and violates privacy.
Of course, HUD does not have any evidence of people faking transgender identities but referenced how in one shelter women said that they would rather sleep outside than sleep next to a biological male, and how one transgender person harassed other females. Thus, the new legislation proposes that transgender people be transferred to another institution if the shelter will not take the person in and that shelter owners can check to see if sex and gender align. HUD states that this practice is not discriminatory.
“HUD believes that reasonable considerations may include, but are not limited to a combination of factors such as height, the presence (but not the absence) of facial hair, the presence of an Adam’s apple, and other physical characteristics which, when considered together, are indicative of a person’s biological sex.”
The department claims that it does not want shelter workers to pressure individuals into showing “private physical anatomical evidence,” but this bill is damning.
The Tik Tok user summarized the contents of the bill and concluded that it is transphobic in the purest way. It dictates that biological sex can be grounds to transferring a person, that transgender people aren’t real, and that transgender people are just people who want to terrorize, abuse and horrify others at homeless shelters.
Fortunately, Tik Tok has been used as a platform with the user educating others on this bill and encouraging people to comment on this bill. As this person correctly states, this horrific legislation cannot be approved until the department reviews all the comments left on the bill. The comment section closed by the end of September, and then the reviewing process of implementing these comments to the bill begins. This Tik Tok user clearly shows people how to correctly write a comment on the site, urges people not to write spam, and more to help combat this bill.
Source: Tik Tok
As unfortunate as this bill is, the fact that there is a platform as wide-reaching as Tik Tok exposing this bill as transphobic is innovative. So, please, comment on this bill and don’t feel ashamed for using Tik Tok for educational purposes.
Photo: Ketut Subiyanto via Unsplash