Public Comment

HUD Equal Access Rule: Public Comment

September 2020

In September 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed to roll back protections from gender identity discrimination in homeless shelters and other HUD-funded facilities.

  • Luis A. Vasquez
    Staff Attorney, Former
  • Adam P. Romero
    Legal Scholarship & Federal Policy Director, Former
Public Comment


The proposed rule would roll back existing protections from gender identity discrimination in single-sex and sex-segregated housing facilities that receive HUD-funding, including homeless shelters. The current Equal Access Rule, issued in 2016, requires that gender minorities be housed in facilities consistent with their gender identity. The proposed rule would remove this requirement and instead allow facilities to design their own policies regarding placement of transgender individuals in shared facilities. Specifically, the rule would allow facilities to consider personal characteristics such as the presence of facial hair, the presence of an Adam’s apple, and other characteristics “indicative of a person’s biological sex,” in deciding placement of transgender people seeking services.


If finalized, the proposed rule would allow HUD-funded shelters to discriminate against transgender people and other gender minorities. Research finds that LGBT people—especially youth—are significantly overrepresented among those who are homeless or unstably housed.  In addition, a substantial amount of research has found that housing instability and homelessness increase the risk of violence victimization, exploitation, and poor health among LGBT people, meaning that existing disparities could grow whenever LGBT people seek and are denied meaningful access to housing-related services.


The proposed rule would likely result in increased discrimination against transgender people and other gender minorities by HUD-funded shelters, which will likely exacerbate challenges that already disproportionately impact these communities, including homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity. These outcomes will, in turn, likely have a negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of transgender people. HUD failed to consider the magnitude of these harms when issuing the proposed rule in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and several executive orders.

Download the comment

HUD Equal Access Rule: Public Comment