HUD Moves to Combat Transgender Housing Discrimination


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July 1, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a new policy that provides additional protection for transgender people facing housing discrimination.  The new guidance treats gender identity discrimination as gender discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs HUD staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. 

TLDEF applauds HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and President Obama for their leadership on this issue.  Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the housing market, and ending that discrimination is vital to ensuring that transgender people can participate fully and equally in society.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability and familial status. Approximately 20 states, and the District of Columbia, and over 60 cities, towns and counties across the nation have additional protections that specifically prohibit such discrimination against LGBT individuals. Under the guidance announced today, HUD will, as appropriate, retain its jurisdiction over complaints filed by LGBT individuals or families but also jointly investigate or refer matters to those state, district and local governments with other legal protections.

HUD has given specific examples of incidents that may constitute discrimination.  Among them:  where "the landlord denied the prospective tenant housing because of non-conformity with gender stereotypes, that situation may constitute illegal sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act."

Gender identity and sexual orientation are not specifically included among the Fair Housing Act's protected categories.  While HUD's action is a big step in the right direction, the Fair Housing Act must still be amended to explicitly protect LGBT Americans.