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Putting Men In Women’s Shelters Is Not The Way To Keep Either Sex Safe

Women getting harassed in shelter showers

Nine homeless women filed a lawsuit in 2018 against Naomi House, a Fresno, California, women’s shelter where they sought refuge. Instead of providing safety, the shelter exposed them to further harm by allowing a man who claimed to be a woman (identified in court documents as “D.N.”) to sexually harass them during mandatory group shower time.

The lawsuit alleges:

Naomi’s requires all women who stay to shower every night or risk being excluded from the shelter. Plaintiffs allege that D.N. was allowed to observe the women when they were required to undress in the open area, and that during shower times, D.N. would repeatedly make lewd and sexually inappropriate comments to some of the plaintiffs. D.N. would allegedly ‘stare and leer at plaintiffs while naked and make sexually harassing comments about their bodies,’ in addition to showing sexual pictures and/or videos of D.N., and making sexual advances on some of the plaintiffs.

When the women complained to the shelter staff, they were informed they had to respect D.N.’s decision to identify as a woman, and that “because Naomi’s received Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding, there was nothing Naomi’s could do.”

The ugly truth is that the Naomi House staff were technically correct in their response. Under the existing HUD rule, trans-identified people must be provided access to single-sex shelters based on their gender identity. It’s a deeply foolish policy.

HUD Rule-Change Proposal Aligns with Women’s Rights

Abuse like this is easily avoidable and should never have happened. There’s a reason sex-based protections such as Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act exist in the first place; women are oppressed on the basis of sex, not a perceived sense of gender. An undeniable physical power differential is in play, and women are on the losing end of it.

That’s why many of us were greatly relieved last week at news of HUD’s proposed rule change, a change that would allow federally funded single-sex shelters like Naomi House to determine the eligibility of potential residents on the basis of sex, not gender identity, without fear of losing funding.

In other words, women’s shelters may reject men, and men’s shelters may reject women without fear of backlash. Additionally, shelters that do turn away members of the opposite sex would be required to facilitate transportation to a more suitable shelter. Under the new rule, no one is denied shelter. That’s an incredibly important point.

But according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), stripping a male of his “right” to shower next to battered women is unconscionable. A statement released by the ACLU in response to the proposal argues, “Many trans and gender nonconforming people would rather be street homeless than enter a men’s homeless shelter given the risk of violence, as well as the misgendering.”

It’s a statement worth considering. According to the ACLU, we are supposed to feel sorry for men who fear other men in men’s shelters, but it’s discriminatory to feel sorry for women who fear men in women’s shelters. Men’s fears of men are valid. Women’s fears of men are bigotry. The cognitive dissonance is startling. When gender identity wins, women always lose.

It’s a terrible time to be losing. Not only have domestic violence rates (and the corresponding need for women’s shelters) increased exponentially during the Wuhan virus, but the American Civil Liberties Union is also forecasting a COVID-related mass-eviction crisis. People are going to need shelter, and everyone, regardless of how he or she identifies, deserves safety.

But we cannot and should not secure safety for men by using women as human shields. If men identifying as women fear male violence, let’s address the problem of male violence rather than inviting males to invade female spaces.

This Has Happened More Than Once

The Naomi House is hardly an isolated case of harm. In 2014, Christopher “Jessica” Hambrook was granted access to two separate women’s shelters. He raped a woman in each, and one of the women was disabled. A woman in a New York shelter was threatened by a trans-identified male who was granted admission, and at a shelter in Oregon, women were similarly threatened and ignored.

These harms also extend to Canada, where two battered women were kicked out of a women’s shelter when they expressed fear over being forced to share space with a trans-identified male. The rape crisis center in Vancouver was severely vandalized and defunded when it tried to protect its female residents from the undue stress of being forced to bunk with unfamiliar males. A trans activist went so far as to nail a dead rat to the shelter’s door. One particularly vile person took to social media to gloat about his sexual harassment of women in a Vancouver shelter.

Stories like these lend additional legitimacy to HUD’s proposed rule change. We aren’t reading headlines about women who identify as men wreaking havoc on men’s shelters or sexually exploiting men in male spaces, and deep down, everyone already knows exactly why.

Trans Rights Erase Women’s Rights

Even world-renowned author J.K. Rowling has had enough of this nonsense, having recently faced tremendous backlash for her defense of women against gender identity-based public policy. In a 3,600-word article on her website, she poignantly wrote about her own history of domestic violence, saying, “I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.”

The mainstream media and bigwig organizations like the ACLU have sold women out in favor of billionaire funding that prioritizes men’s demands at every turn. Ironically, the ACLU claims “women’s rights” are among its primary priorities, but you can’t successfully champion a group of people you refuse to properly define.

No one is working to kick transgender people out of shelters. The HUD proposal is common-sense public policy that maintains hard-fought sex-based protections for those who need them most. It merely seeks to keep men out of women’s shelters. It’s not bigotry or discrimination or rocket science; it’s biology. Anatomy discriminates.