In non-treasonous Trump administration news, the general deplorableness continues. Cue Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and his ongoing anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
Carson was visiting HUD offices in San Francisco this week, and managed to piss off just about everybody on staff by talking about his concerns that “big, hairy men,” meaning transgender women, are trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters. He said this during an internal meeting, The Washington Post reports from sources who were present. The remarks “visibly shocked and upset many of the roughly 50 HUD staffers who attended Tuesday’s meeting, and prompted at least one woman to walk out in protest, the staffers said.”
He was there to discuss the agency’s proposed discriminatory regulation that would allow shelters to turn away people based on religious grounds and to force transgender women to be housed with men and use men’s bathrooms. In public, Carson has justified the proposal by saying he wanted to do it to “make sure everybody is treated fairly.” Which is demonstrable bullshit, but when Carson has a history of saying things like transgender people are “abnormal” and calls civil rights for LGTBQ people “special rights,” he clearly is not interested in fairness.
It’s also not the first time he’s said this kind of thing in internal HUD meetings, according to a government official who spoke with the Post. The official said Carson mocked transgender people. “His overall tone is dismissive and joking about these people,” the official said. “It’s disrespectful of the people we are trying to serve.”
A senior HUD official called it—what else?—fake news. “The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false.” Although this person was not in the room in San Francisco, they claim ” Carson was referring to men who pretend to be women to gain access to battered women’s shelters—and not singling out transgender women as ‘big, hairy men.'” Because that’s something that happens.
Carson’s attitude is causing deep concern among HUD employees and advocates alike.
“It’s gravely insulting to have the specter of violence from cis gender men used to restrict the rights of transgender people who are ordinarily the victims of that violence,” said Gillian Branstetter, spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “It’s frankly despicable that such a harmful notion would be used by someone charged with facilitating programs meant to help people in need, many of whom are transgender.”
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