According to a number of sources who work closely with Ben Carson, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary is still not supporting the transgender community. In fact, he continues to make “dismissive” comments according to them.
For example, at an internal meeting while visiting HUD’s San Francisco office this week, three people said Carson expressed concern about “big, hairy men” trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters. They interpreted this comment as an attack on transgender women.
Carson also reportedly vented that society doesn’t seem to understand the difference between men and women, according to two of the agency staffers. He reportedly went on a nostalgic spiel, reminiscing on a time when there were “just women and just men,” although one staffer reportedly debunked this myth. His remarks visibly upset many of the roughly 50 HUD staffers who were present at the Tuesday meeting, and it caused at least one woman to exit in protest, the staffers said.
The three anonymous HUD employees who spoke with The Washington Post said that Carson prefaced his comments about transgender people by saying he believed in fairness and equality, however, he didn’t believe in “special rights” for any class of people.
One staffer who took notes during the meeting reported that Carson said, “Transgender people should get the same rights as everyone else, but they don’t get to change things for everybody else.”
On the topic of transgender women entering all women homeless shelters, Carson told the group that single-sex shelters should have the option to turn away trans people, according to staffers. “That was the first time any of us heard him use such derogatory language,” one San Francisco staffer explained. “He’s more tactful when he’s talking before Congress, whereas this sounded like a slur to me.”
One staffer explained that Carson overall tone in meetings tend to be “dismissive and joking” when it comes to trans people. “It’s disrespectful of the people we are trying to serve,” the source said.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in three transgender people have experienced homelessness, including one in eight in just the last year. This can put them at risk of sexual and physical violence, or force them into sex work.
A HUD senior official released a statement to the Post, saying, “The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false.”
Despite this, Mr. Carson does have a history of antagonism against the trans community. Below is a timeline of just a few of his actions or inactions.
- In early 2017, not too long after Carson took charge of HUD, the government agency removed links to documents on their website that guided emergency shelters on how to best adhere to agency regulations and cater to transgender people facing homelessness. It also withdrew proposals that would have required HUD-funded emergency shelters to post info about LGBTQ rights and protections.
- In May 2019, HUD announced a proposal to allow taxpayer-funded shelters to turn away homeless transgender people based on a few factors, including the shelter provider’s religious views.
- In 2016, Carson characterized trans people going to the bathroom that matches their gender identity as an “abnormal situation.”
- In 2015, Carson objected to transgender people in the military, saying, “The last thing we need to be doing is saying, ‘What would it be like if we introduced several transgender people into this platoon?’ Give me a break. Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else.”