Discrimination in Shelters


In San Francisco, homeless shelters are required by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission to treat transgender people according to their self-identified gender. This means transgender women are housed with women and transgender men with men. Further, shelters are required to address the individual according to his or her gender identity, and allow the person access to a restroom that is consistent with their gender identity.1 Cities in other states have developed model policies serving transgender guests in homeless shelter facilities.2

Ideally, the shelter should make available a private shower facility, though many shelters do not have the resources to do so. In such a case, shelters should arrange a safe solution on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, not all homeless shelters have such transgender-friendly policies. Without such policies in place, shelters can be dangerous for transgender people. If a transgender person is faced with a harmful or dangerous situation in a shelter, it is best to seek immediate legal assistance. For more information on making homeless shelters more safe and transgender-inclusive, see Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People, a guide published by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless. The guide is available at: http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/TransitioningOurShelters.pdf.

  1. Compliance Guidelines to Prohibit Gender Identity Discrimination, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, http://www.sf-hrc.org/index.aspx?page=29, Last visited May 27, 2014. 

  2. Health Services Guidelines for Serving Transgender Guests, Boston Public Health Commission Homeless Services, http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/transprotocol.pdf, Last visited May 27, 2014.