HANDS ACROSS THE AISLE

Press Release: Hands Across the Aisle Requests that HUD Restore Protections for Women in Crisis

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                For More Information Contact:
April 26, 2017                                                                                                                                                                                   Meg Kilgannon, 612-568-2485

Hands Across the Aisle Coalition requests HUD rule change to restore protections for women in crisis

Washington, DC – Hands Across the Aisle Coalition (HATAC), a diverse group of women and organizations, is petitioning the Department of Housing and Urban Development to restore protections for women in crisis housing situations. Hands Across The Aisle Coalition is a group of mothers, feminists, women of faith, lesbian and bisexual women’s rights activists, and concerned neighbors pushing back against recent attacks on women’s rights and privacy in the name of gender identity policies. 39 signers representing organizations from across the country have signed on to the effort.

On September 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a regulation mandating that all individuals be granted access to HUD-funded single-sex shelters in accordance with their self-proclaimed “gender identity” instead of their biological sex. Though shelters were previously allowed to provide single-sex shared sleeping areas or bathrooms, they are now required to allow individuals to access programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their “gender identity,” without question or documentation. As a result, men now have unfettered access to HUD-funded women’s shelters.

The group is sending a formal petition to Secretary Carson requesting the change. “While the Rule discusses ‘single-sex’ facilities, in reality it ended federally-funded single-sex emergency shelters with the stroke of a pen. All federally-funded women’s shelters have since been required to admit male clients who claim to feel female, or risk closing their doors to the women who desperately need them. Men’s shelters have also been required to admit female clients who claim to feel male. In all cases, this mainly puts female shelter clients in danger.”

Emily Zinos, project consultant for Ask Me First MN, explained, “As advocates for women, we are appalled at HUD’s disregard for women’s safety under this Rule. While members of many communities have specific religious or cultural objections to sharing mixed-sex accommodations, reasonable concerns about privacy and safety in these circumstances are shared by women from all walks of life.”

Audrey Blankenship, formerly sheltered in Texas, offered her perspective: “My 7 children and I lived in a women’s crisis center for a month. All of the women and children in the shelter were jumpy and nervous enough as it was. I cannot fathom for the life of me – on top of everything else – having to worry about one of our abusers gaining access because he claimed to be a ‘self-identifying woman.’ Policies that allow men to access women’s domestic violence shelters put women’s lives at risk for another reason: Fewer and fewer women will go to shelters or crisis centers if they no longer seem to be safe places in their eyes. The mental and emotional damage that these policies can and will cause is staggering. We are supposed to protect these women and their children, not cause then further harm and compound the mental and emotional trauma they’ve already endured up to that point! This angers me to no end!”

Natasha Chart, acting board chair for the Women’s Liberation Front, said, “Before this rule was implemented, the Obama administration was well aware that at least 70 percent of the women’s shelters surveyed in the research they relied on were only prepared to accept female clients. They were told in public comments that a similar gender identity policy had already given a male sex offender, Christopher Hambrook, the opportunity to sexually assault two additional women in Canadian shelters. Though instead of listening to women’s safety concerns, or considering the reasons for the established policies of the women’s emergency shelter community, they issued a rule that silenced shelter providers and their vulnerable clients, alike. The decision about whether or not to be a single-sex facility needs to be returned to local shelters.”

Michelle Cretella, MD, President of the American College of Pediatricians concluded, “Redefining women-only facilities in accordance with gender identity rather than biological sex turns reality on its head; it threatens the physical and psychological health of some of our most vulnerable patients and their mothers. This is why the American College of Pediatricians urges Dr. Carson to rescind this Obama Administration directive which is as ludicrous as it is dangerous.”

The Hands Across the Aisle coalition unites over 200 women including mothers, conservative Christians, lesbians, bi-sexuals and feminists who support biological sex-based rights. We believe laws and policies that redefine sex as gender identity are regressive and erase the opportunities and protections that women have long fought for. As the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition, we are committed to working together, rising above our differences, and leveraging our collective resources to oppose the transgender agenda.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Meg Kilgannon at 612-568-2485.