Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose sex assigned at birth (male, female) does not match their gender identity or gender expression. Some examples are male-to-female (MtF) and female-to-male (FtM) trans people.
Every year approximately 1.7 million youths identify as homeless, whether they left home voluntarily or were made homeless involuntarily, according to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. Of these 1.7 million, 20-40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).1
LASTING IMPACT –
Studies also show that LGBT youth, once homeless, experience higher rates of negative outcomes than their heterosexual/heteronormative counterparts, such as mental health issues, sexual violence victimization, and higher rates of attempted suicide.2
UNIQUE RISKS FOR TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS3 –
- 1 in 5 transgender people report experiencing homelessness at least once in in their lifetime3
- Over 40% of transgender people experiencing/facing homelessness are forced to stay in a shelter living as the wrong gender
- 22% of transgender people facing homeless report being sexually assaulted from staff or other residents in shelters
- 29% transgender youth experiencing homelessness report being turned away from a shelter due to their transgender status
PAST AND CURRENT INITIATIVES –
In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness put out a call to action to end homelessness in the U.S. in ten years through a strategic plan. Multiple federally funded initiatives have arisen to address the issue of homelessness. Some programs include the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and the Health Care for the Homeless program.4
In 2015 the reauthorization of RHYA FAILED to pass the Senate.
A comprehensive federal strategy to address homelessness in the United States named Opening Doors was presented to the Office of the President and Congress in 2010. One goal of this initiative is to now end youth homelessness by 2020.5
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE –
Past initiatives to prevent and reduce rates of homelessness among youths have had NO provisions that prevent discrimination based on gender identity/expression.
This leaves transgender youth vulnerable as they are at greater risk to experience homelessness and experience physical harm when seeking traditional supports for homeless youth, such as shelters.
CALL TO ACTION –
Urge legislators to pass the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015.6 This Act prohibits discrimination based on perceived or actual gender identity/expression from any program that receives funding from the Act.
Demand culturally appropriate care for youth experiencing homelessness by requiring sensitivity training for all shelter operators and workers.
Children, Youth, and Families Concentrator
1National Alliance to End Homelessness (2012). “An Emerging Framework for Ending Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness.” Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/an-emerging-framework-for-ending-unaccompanied-youth-homelessness
2Ray, N. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved from http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/HomelessYouth.pdf
3Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute
4National Alliance to End Homeless (2010). “Fact Sheet: Questions and Answers on Homelessness Policy and Research.” Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/page/-/files/1786_file_Fact_Sheet_TYP_2_1_2010.pdf
5United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. (Amended 2015). Opening Doors. Washington D.C. Retrieved from https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH_OpeningDoors_Amendment2015_FINAL.pdf
6H.R.1779, 114 Congress (2015)