DC Trans Groups Victorious In Shelter Struggle

Lakiesha with the suit
Lakiesha Washington poses with the judge’s order that the John L Young shelter be open to transgender women.

Shelter that discriminated against transgender woman agrees to stop discriminating, train its staff on trans sensitivity, and make its facilities safer for trans people

A DC transgender resident named Lakiesha Washington, Transgender Health Empowerment (a drop-in center for LGBT people), and DC Trans Coalition have won a major victory for transgender homeless people.

As the Washington Blade reported earlier this week, Lakiesha Washington sued New Hope Ministries–operator of the John L Young Women’s Shelter–for discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. On April 3, 2013, Washington attempted to get a bed in the John L Young Shelter, and was turned away, being told (as is noted in Ms. Washington’s complaint), “We don’t do transgenders here. You have to leave.”

Washington, and the lawyer representing her–DC Trans Coalition member Jeffrey Light–negotiated with New Hope Ministries through this last week that New Hope would agree to a Temporary Restraining Order allowing Washington (and all transgender women) into the shelter. Furthermore, New Hope Ministries has arranged to give its staff transgender sensitivity training (as put on by Transgender Health Empowerment’s Earline Budd, and the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs), and improve the privacy of its bathroom and shower facilities so that no one will be outed on the basis of their genitalia.

DC Trans Coalition member Andy Bowen, who filed an Office of Human Rights complaint about John L Young in February 2013, will withdraw her complaint, which had just entered the mediation and investigation stage.

“This is a great day for all transgender people,” said Washington. “Nobody should have to face discrimination and humiliation, and thanks to this case, homeless transgender people will be now be safer.”

“DC has great nondiscrimination laws, but good laws do not equal adequate enforcement,” said Bowen. “This case showed the need for more vigilant enforcement, and if DC Trans Coalition has anything to do with it, enforcement’s gonna happen.”

For more information, contact Andy Bowen at andymbowen [at] gmail [dot] com.

John L Young TRO Signed

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