Gage Skidmore via Flickr

The move is coming in a bid to protect ‘religious freedom.’

A new release from the Department of Housing and Urban Planning (HUD) shows that the Tr*mp administration is launching yet another attack on the trans community. This time it’s changing the Obama-era Equal Access Rule, which prevented homeless shelters from turning away trans people looking for shelters that matched their gender identity.

The administration isn’t completely removing the rule, just changing it so it’s only voluntary, which will therefore allow homeless shelters to turn away trans people.

Although the release says that shelters “must not discriminate based on sexual orientation or transgender status” and should refer trans people who they reject to shelters that will accept them, advocates still fear the worst, especially as the administration has generally been unclear when discussing trans-inclusive policies.

The rules will also allow shelters to accept a trans person, but ignore their gender identity, therefore housing trans women with men and trans men with women.

Meanwhile, a homeless shelter which allows a trans person in, must provide alternatives for “persons who have concerns with being housed with persons of a different biological sex.”

The move had been in the making for over a year, and is subject to a 60-day period of public comment before becoming final.

Ted Eytan via Flickr

In a statement, Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said: “One in three transgender Americans has been homeless at some point in their lives, and this proposal would have them sleep on the street rather than get help.

“The difference between being sheltered and unsheltered is especially dangerous for transgender homeless persons, particularly transgender persons of color, who face harassment and threats from private individuals, as well as elevated rates of policing and violence within police custody.

“When combined with President Trump’s recent policy proposals to increase criminalization of homelessness, while cutting HUD’s affordable housing budget and rolling back support for Housing First, it is clear that getting transgender persons off the street and out of harm’s way is a matter of life and death.”

Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, said: “The actions of this administration are as cruel as they are lawless.

“Transgender people suffer disproportionately high rates of homelessness, and are subjected to similarly high rates of abuse, harassment and violence, especially transgender women of color.

“For the Trump-Pence administration to encourage shelters to shut their doors to an already vulnerable population during a deadly and raging pandemic is unconscionable.

“With today’s announcement, this administration is not only yet again betraying our nation’s core commitment to liberty and justice for all, but also, and more fundamentally, the country’s commitment to the safety and security of all who live here.”

Ted Eytan via Flickr

And speaking to Vox, Representative Jennifer Wexton said: “Requiring trans people to be housed according to their birth gender rather than their gender identity is a recipe for harassment and sexual or physical assault.

“This population is already under enough attack. We can’t have them avoid staying shelters.”

Trans people are already at a heightened risk of homelessness, with a 2015 study from the National Center of Transgender Equality finding that a third of 28,000 respondents had experienced homelessness.

The move comes a month after the Tr*mp administration announced plans to rollback non-discrimination measures for trans patients.

Under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ the Department of Health and Human Services revised part of the Affordable Care Act, and reverted “the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

The move now means that people could find themselves discriminated against by healthcare professionals while America is in the middle of dealing with a pandemic.

The planned revising of the policy was revealed back in April, and before then, a study commissioned by CAP showed that 29% of transgender adults said a healthcare provider refused to treat them because of their gender identity. LGBTQ+ people are also seven times more likely to avoid a visit to the hospital or doctors office due to fear of discrimination.

Related: How to be a trans ally: tips to help you be the best advocate you can be