Homeless Transgender in Dallas | Is There Somewhere To Go?

According to Jay Dunn, manager of the city owned shelter the 'Bridge', in our first conversation, this question had never been a issue much less ever been asked.

But according to one employee of the Bridge that I interviewed, who stated rather matter of factly, that regardless of input from the guest on intake, Bridge Staff determined what gender to address him/her with and regardless of the resultant danger, routinely decided what facilities the guest would use to sleep and shower.

That was not be surprising to me as there was no formal written policy requiring staff training, guest awareness or facility availability for transgender people.

Since 2002 the city of Dallas has had a ordinance that requires transgender people be treated fairly in housing, employment and public accommodations. So I began attempting to establish contact with Fair Housing Office - Human Rights Compliance City of Dallas, which is tasked with enforcing this ordinance. After a month Karen Boudreaux returned my calls. She introduced herself as the city manager who "signed the checks" for the bridge. A meeting was scheduled with city managers and outreach workers, The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance(MDHA), and the group I represent, the Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies(DTAA).

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance(MDHA) Bridge management was a no show, much to the chagrin of Karen Boudreaux but we held our meeting non the less.

During the meeting it was agreed that the need for a written transgender policy existed and that this issue had been addressed previously but not followed up on. There was a absence of a transgender policy after the city had taken over the bridge and contracted to the MDHA when a out of state management company, which had used it's own policy, was no longer managing the Bridge.

After repeated phone calls and emails I was later contacted by Jay Dunn, manager of the Bridge. Mr. Dunn assured me that at the bridge, regardless of the fact there was no written policy, transgender people were being treated according to city ordinance 46 and that in fact, no written policy was needed.

Mr. Dunn eventually did eventually agree to produce a written policy and did so in April 2009.

The new Bridge policy is a model of inclusiveness for transgender homeless and if the procedure is implemented, and a regiment of training is occurring, the bridge could be a safe emergency shelter for homeless transgender people.

I may soon verify that in person.

I have been living by the good graces of friends since February and am in severe financial straits due to the economic downturn. I will continue to try and find employment, write and advocate but may have to see in person if someone is............

Homeless Transgender in Dallas | Is there Somewhere safe To Go?


Dallas city ordinance 02-1506; ORDINANCE NO. 24927

Item 54.
An ordinance amending Chapter 15B of, and adding Chapter 46 to, the Dallas City Code, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in City of Dallas contracts; to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations; to provide a complaint, investigation, conciliation, and enforcement process; to provide exceptions; to define terms; and to provide a criminal penalty of not less than $200 or more than $500 - $168,706 - Financing: Currrent Funds (subject to annual appropriations - includes incremental costs of $14,988 and reallocated personnel costs of $153,718) [02-1506; ORDINANCE NO. 24927; APPROVED]

Fair Housing Office - Human Rights Compliance


Sexual Orientation – means an individual’s real or perceived orientation as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.


Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (located at The Bridge) Transgender Policy

The National Gay and Lesbian Task force report : 'Transitioning our shelters: A guide to making homeless shelters safe for transgender people'

On the web

Man of Austin Death of Jennifer Gale Brings Austin’s Transgender Homeless into Spotlight

SF ChronicleShelters slowly adapt to help transgender homeless

Dallas Voice Bridge shelter puts policy on trans homeless in writing

1 comment:

Abby said...

Wonderful work, Kelli! I'm so happy to known that Jennifer Gale's death was followed up with the adoption of a nondiscrimination policy designed to show that trans people are welcome at the Bridge and ensure none of us ever again dies on the streets of Dallas for lack of appropriate shelter. The test, of course, will come when that first trans person walks in the door. I'm not so certain that the intake people will have the knowledge, training and sensitivity required. I hope I'm wrong. I also hope you never have to be the one to test that policy and that you find a job soon.