Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Fighting Trans Homelessness

In response to the effect of disproportionate levels of homelessness on LGBTQ youth, a new youth shelter is the first of its kind to offer protection for transgender youth in the District.

Ruby Corado, an advocate for LGBTQ rights, heads Casa Ruby, a nonprofit organization that currently provides meals, case management, legal counsel and other basic services to the LGBTQ community. Now, Corado is opening a shelter particularly for trans youth.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 19 percent of trans people have been homeless at some point in their lives, while 10 percent of transgender people have been ejected from their homes due to their gender identity.

However, despite the prevalence of homelessness among this population, 29 percent of trans people reported being turned away from shelters because of their gender identity. Even when they are accepted into shelters, 55 percent said they experienced sexual harassment at a shelter, according to the Washington Post.

Corado, a trans person who identifies as a woman, previously experienced homelessness, saying at an event in October that being an immigrant trans woman made it difficult for her to find housing.

To combat the problem, Corado received a $380,000 grant from the D.C. Department of Human Services in November, which she used to secure a three-story house on Georgia Avenue NW that will house 10 to 12 people between the ages of 18 and 24.

“Here, you will not be hungry,” Corado said in the Washington Post. “You won’t be tired from a bad night of sleep. You will be rested and full, and you will be ready to work on your future.”

The problem of homelessness is not limited to the trans community; it affects the entire LGBTQ population. Although LGBTQ youth only make up seven percent of the overall youth population, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, according to the Huffington Post.

Luke Brown (COL ’17), who co-led an Alternative Breaks Program trip that explored the issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness and visited homeless shelters in New York City, noted that shelters often treated these clients with disrespect.

“I think what surprised me the most was the inability of mainstream housing organizations to address the particular needs of their LGBTQ clients, especially since these clients are a plurality,” Brown said. “Housing discrimination is still rampant, with LGB individuals having to wear particular clothes to mark them as other or even being verbally and physically assaulted within some shelters.”

Brown said that this disregard was amplified in the interactions of shelters with trans people.

“These issues are compounded within the trans community,” Brown said. “Many trans youth are assigned rooming based on the gender identity officials project onto them or that their birth certificates indicate.”

GU Pride Media Manager and Historian Campbell James (SFS ’17) explained that LGBTQ youth constitute a high portion of the homeless because of continued stigma attached to the identity.

“I still think that there’s a lot of fear and kind of a stigma around being LGBTQ especially if you’re a person of color,” James said. “If you feel like you’re really different from the mold or from what you think is a normal person, it’s hard to find your place to belong.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced legal action to make shelters more secure for LGBTQ citizens, particularly for trans youth. Among these reforms, HUD announced that single-gender homeless shelters receiving federal aid could not refuse a person in need based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

James said HUD’s actions are a good first step to ensuring fair treatment of LGBTQ community.

“I think that [the HUD legislation] probably was geared towards the LGBTQ community and trans youth,” James said. “That’s a really, really great inclusive move by HUD to make sure that no young person can be turned away from a safe place to live because of their gender identity.”

Corado’s new shelter will combine the security of a shelter with the services of Casa Ruby, offering job training and counseling to those who seek shelter there.

According to James, the new shelter represents an important step in addressing the problem of homeless transgendered citizens.

“I think it’s really touching and incredible to see Ruby Corado’s youth center turn into a homeless shelter,” James said. “It shows that she’s been gaining a lot of momentum in being a really strong activist for LGBTQ youth in the city.”

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