GLAA raises transgender rights in testimony on Homeless Shelter bill
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GLAA raises transgender rights in testimony on Homeless Shelter bill

From: Bob Summersgill
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:44 AM
To: Adrian Fenty;
Subject: Bill 16-625, the Homeless Shelter Monitoring Amendment Act of 2006

Chairman Adrian Fenty
Committee on Human Services
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Chairman Fenty:

Please accept this email as testimony on Bill 16-625, the Homeless Shelter Monitoring Amendment Act of 2006 from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. We regret not being able to testify in person.

We support the legislation, but we would like to make two suggestions for amendments. Section 2, paragraph (g)(a) enumerates the duties of the Office. We believe that an explicit inclusion of compliance with the Human Rights Act of 1977 should be included.

One of the recurring complaints that transgender people have reported to us is discrimination at shelters. Many shelters are ill-prepared to accept transgender people in their facilities because of questions as to whether they should be sheltered in areas for men or women and whether their genitalia or gender expression should be the determining criteria. Ideally, if such questions arise, an individual should be sheltered with the group that matches their gender expression. However, if there is a question of the safety of the individual or others in the area, separate facilities need to be available.

Far too often, transgender people are simply turned away.

As you are aware, the Council passed the Human Rights Clarification Amendment Act of 2005 explicitly adding protections for transgender people in the category “gender identity or expression.” While transgender people should have been protected under the “personal appearance” category from the original 1973 law, the amendment removes any doubt. We appreciate the Council’s unanimous support for that legislation.

Inspection of the shelters would be handled by the newly created Office of Shelter Monitoring, but the enforcement of violation of the Human Rights Act would still be handled by Office of Human Rights.

Section 27b (a) should include a 9th item (possibly as number 8, and renumbering line 8 to 9):

“(9) Compliance with the Human Rights Act of 1977, (D.C. Law 2-38; D.C. Official Code § 2-1401.01 et seq.)”

Additionally, D.C. Code § 4-754.11, client rights, needs to be amended to conform to the Human Rights Act by striking the phrase “sexual orientation,” and inserting the phrase “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,” in its place. The current text of that paragraph is:

§ 4-754.11. Client rights.

Clients served within the Continuum of Care shall have the right to:

(2) Access services within the Continuum of Care free from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, language, culture, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, and source of income, and in accordance with Unit A of Chapter 14 of Title 2, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, approved July 26, 1990 (104 Stat. 328; 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, approved August 7, 1998 (112 Stat. 1095; 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.), Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, approved July 2, 1964 (78 Stat. 243; 42 U.S.C. § 2000a et seq.), and subchapter II of Chapter 19 of Title 2;

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this testimony.

Thank you.

Bob Summersgill
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

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