Trump's chosen Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, made some shockingly offensive if unsurprising remarks denigrating trans women while visiting the San Francisco HUD office this week.
Agency staffers who wished to remain anonymous told the Washington Post that they and other staffers in the SF office were "visibly shocked and upset" by Carson's comments, which sounds as if they were not confined to a single statement or crack. According to the staffers, Carson made reference to "big, hairy men" trying to enter emergency women's homeless shelter — by which he was referring to trans women. He further went on to say that trans people are "abnormal," and that society has stopped being clear about the difference between men and women, the staffers say.
Asked to comment on the report by SF staffers, a senior HUD official in Washington issued a flat-out denial to the Post, saying, "The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false."
But numerous reports have come out of Washington suggesting that Carson has been open about his feelings in internal meetings, while obfuscating during congressional testimony, per the Post.
"It’s gravely insulting to have the specter of violence from cis gender men used to restrict the rights of transgender people who are ordinarily the victims of that violence,” said National Center for Transgender Equality spokesperson Gillian Branstetter, in a statement to the Post.
"From his comments on trans service members to his support for a proposal that would literally permit emergency shelters to turn away trans people who are homeless, hardly surprising that [Secretary Carson] would blatantly dehumanize trans people in his official capacity," said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in a tweet on Thursday.
From his comments on trans service members to his support for a proposal that would literally permit emergency shelters to turn away trans people who are homeless, hardly surprising that @SecretaryCarson would blatantly dehumanize trans people in his official capacity.— Alphonso David (@AlphonsoDavid) September 20, 2019
Like so much of what spews from the Trump administration, the denials from HUD about Carson's remarks ring pretty false. As NBC News reminds us, "Carson’s track record of anti-LGBTQ remarks and opposition to gay and trans rights began long before he joined the Trump administration in 2017." He's compared gay people to pedophiles, and back in 2015, when he himself was running for president, he expressed his opposition to trans people serving in the military, saying they should "deal with the transgender thing somewhere else."
And the comments, if true, are fully consistent with Carson's proposed rule change in May of this year at HUD that would allow single-sex shelters to turn away trans people, and to force trans women to go to men's shelters.
Current Democratic candidate for president and former HUD secretary under Obama, Julián Castro, quickly lashed back on Twitter in May saying, "Finalizing the Gender Identity Rule was among my proudest accomplishments at HUD and couldn't have been done without incredible activists. Rescinding this rule is a shameful decision that will result in trans shelter-seekers being forced on the streets."
Finalizing the Gender Identity Rule was among my proudest accomplishments at HUD and couldn't have been done without incredible activists. Rescinding this rule is a shameful decision that will result in trans shelter-seekers being forced on the streets. https://t.co/RLQet75cFS— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) May 22, 2019
Carson's comments this week at the HUD office reportedly came "during a rambling hour-long speech about HUD initiatives that [staffers] described as 'stream of consciousness,'" per the Washington Post.
Carson and Trump: Cut from the same cloth! (Even though back on the campaign trail Trump repeatedly mocked Carson for his temper, his inexperience in politics, and for his religion, which is Seventh Day Adventist.)
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia