WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal order is now forcing transgender bathroom "rights" on homeless shelters.
In a series of regulations scheduled to be finalized in September, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is expected to mandate that homeless shelters nationwide allow transgender individuals to stay in the shelters that correspond with the gender with which they identify.
According to HUD guidelines, homeless shelters are ordered to ignore the "complaints of other shelter residents" who voice their concern over sharing space with individuals of the opposite gender. "It is likewise prohibited to deny appropriate placement based on a perceived threat to health or safety that can be mitigated some other less burdensome way," the mandate continues.
Despite the proposal being in the infant stages of development, LGBT activist groups have already lauded the move. "Transgender women are women regardless of whether they were born male," argues David Stacy with the Human Rights Campaign. "If you're a transgender woman and you walk into a homeless shelter and they treat you like a man, it's traumatizing. These people are already vulnerable, they're homeless, they don't have a job. To face discrimination the entire time they're there is a real problem."
Likewise, the HUD guidelines have already received their fair share of criticism, with the American Family Association (AFA) maintaining the move to accommodate a minority of people "who are sexually confused" comes at the "expense of everyone else."
"No one is in favor of beating up transgender people," AFA president Tim Wildmon explained in an interview with The Hill, "but why do you have to force other people to feel really uncomfortable, and in some cases unsafe, just to make your political point?"
Wildmon continued, posing a series of questions. "What if I self-identify as a woman today, and tomorrow I want to self-identify as a man? Why not self identify as a minority? Today, I'm white. Tomorrow, I'm black."
"It makes no sense at all," Wildmon concluded. "Good, Christian organizations that are trying to help people do not need Washington dictating their bathroom or bedding policies."
Additional skepticism notes many of the country's homeless shelters act as safe havens for women in abusive and dangerous relationships, and opening the doors to men could pose a threat to women.
These hypotheticals are being countered by LGBT activists, who argue that if shelters "don't treat people consistently with their gender identity, then a woman who was abused by her boyfriend could be housed with a transgender man who looks like a man and has a beard."
As it did not originate in Congress, the federal order would only apply to those homeless shelters that receive federal funding; however, those qualifications rope in multiple religious organizations that operate shelters, including Catholic Charities USA and the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Both organizations have raised concerns over the pending regulations.
"One of the guests at a rescue mission overheard someone on the street saying, 'Dude, if you go down to the rescue mission and tell them you're transgender, you can sleep in the women's dorm and even shower with them,'" alleges John Ashmen of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. "No one is trying to make transgender people feel awkward, but we're concerned about the well-being and safety of everyone in our rescue missions."
The pending federal mandate follows on the heels of a May directive from the Departments of Justice and Education, which declares: "A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so."
Twenty-three states are currently embroiled in various legal battles over the mandate, which U.S. attorneys have clarified act simply as guidelines and carry no legal weight.