Nowhere to go: To Be Homeless & Transgender in Dallas Texas

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Kelli Busey
Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies

Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies (DTAA) and the City of Dallas TX working together to make "The Bridge" homeless shelter transgender accepting.

Dallas Texas. Dallas TX enacted Ordinances in 2002 prohibiting discrimination in housing and the workplace based on gender identity and sexual orientation. It was not until the death of a mayoral candidate and homeless transgender woman Jennifer Gale after spending a night exposed to subfreezing temperatures did it become apparent the cities homeless shelter did not house transgender people according to the transgender person's self determined gender identity. Transgender people were judged by a shelter staffer as to whether the applicant was female or male regardless of information supplied on intake. The transgender homeless person was then required to sleep, shower and use bathrooms without protection in whatever accommodation chosen by the staffer.

This condition created a unsafe environment for transgender people. Many transgender people would then refuse to stay in the cities shelter and forgo the opportunity to learn how to move from the streets to become a vital contributing member of society.

Dallas transgender Advocates and Allies invited the City to a conference in which it would conduct a gender 101 and introduce the City of Dallas to who transgender, queer and the gender diverse people are. The next step was to use the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force study "Transitioning our shelters: A guide to making homeless shelters safe for transgender people" to suggest options to make the cities shelter safe and accepting for the gender diverse.

According to DTAA member Kelli Busey "My initial reaction to this effort was that the conference was a success. The city managers who were present although dismayed by the unaccountable absence of the invited Bridge personal at the meeting, became involved and enthusiastic about the prospect of caring for our GLBT homeless population. We will be monitoring the city to insure it implements policy that will make it compliant with it's gender and sexual protective ordinances. We will also offer our assistance to the City of Dallas to conduct ongoing Gender 101 classes for Bridge employess. The need for this was made apparent at the meeting by the observation of a Dallas City manager who noted that when the Bridge was initially opened there was a concern expressed for making it GLBT accepting but "It was never followed up on."

Press Release
For immediate Release
January 28, 2009


Anonymous said...

Although I am sure gender identity and expression misunderstandings and discrimination has caused many deaths before, it is particularly heart breaking to hear of this incidence: a person froze to death because of the way their gender identity and expression is handled. A person died because of this. It just sounds so ridiculous; this never had to happen.

Unknown said...

This is so sad. I'm not sure how we do it, but humanity seems to justify treating people who are different like animals. Disgusting