Ben Carson Claims Transgender People In Homeless Shelters Are Making Others Uncomfortable
Just when you think that the bar set for flagrant stupidity and casual bigotry from government leaders cannot get any lower, well, along comes Ben Carson, strutting from his corner like the Rocky Balboa of ignorance to make headlines with his latest uppercut to Transgender Americans.
Homeless Transgender Americans, to be specific.
As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson joins the ranks of yesterdays subject, Secretary of Education’s Betsy Devos, whose malignant ideas and radically religious world views regarding LGBT people directly threaten our entire community.
Carson was speaking at a House subcommittee hearing last week when Democratic Representative Mike Quigley asked him how he could combat the disproportionate numbers of LGBT youths in homeless shelters. Carson replied by stating that he intends to drive an initiative to create separate homeless protections and shelters for transgender people.
If you’re one of my frequent readers, you know I discuss the severity of the LGBT homelessness dilemma frequently. To give you a brief recap, in America, 40% of the homeless youth served by shelters and support agencies identify as LGBT. When you consider that LGBT youth represent only 7% of the total youth population, and that 40% of them experience homelessness, one cannot deny that this is a catastrophic social issue that has been ignored for far to long. The only ones that have attempted to intervene are other members of the community who independently found non-profit programs in effort to build or acquire shelters and provide basic survival necessities to homeless individuals to help reduce the numbers on the streets. Most of the time, these programs rely on public donations to keep running.
I was delighted to hear the Rep. Quigley brought the issue to the table, but I was shocked and disappointed as Carson babbled on and rehashed North Carolina’s argument for keeping Transgender people out of public bathrooms: Separate the Transgender people from the Women and Children to keep them safe.
In an effort not to let his mask slip entirely and completely show us the monster beneath, he tried to backpeddle his remarks, but only a little.
“We obviously believe in equal rights for everybody, including the LGBT community. But we also believe in equal rights for the women in the shelters, and shelters where there are men and their equal rights. So we want to look at things that really provide for everybody and doesn’t impede the rights of one for the sake of the other. So it’s a complex issue.” — Ben Carson
You know, never in a million years did I think I’d hear a gentleman of color say something that sounds alarming like “Separate but equal.” The Doctrine was adopted in the USA in 1868. Under this doctrine, the law stated that as long as all facilities provided to each race were equal (i.e. Clean water came from both fountains) then state and local governments could require that services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation be segregated by race. The white supremacists despised this doctrine, even though it ensured safe distance from people of color, because it threatened their perceived superiority over black men and women if they suddenly had access to the same things they did.
Carson went on to explain why this should be the resolution they pursue;
“There are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and being around somebody who had a very different anatomy.” — Ben Carson
If you’re in a homeless shelter, you have much bigger problems than worrying about sharing a space with a Transgender person. And trust me, no one in a homeless shelter is comfortable to begin with. This is not exactly how most of these people imagined their life unfolding. Homelessness isn’t simply the absence of a roof over your head; It takes a heavy, emotional toll on the individual. People walk in and are immediately ashamed, embarrassed at where they’ve found themselves. They feel stripped of their independence and dignities when they finally concede, set their pride aside and walk off the streets into a shelter. But they do it with gratitude, and it takes guts that I guarantee Mr. Carson has never had to muster. No one who walks into a shelter is worried about who they’re sharing a space with. They’re happy they won’t freeze to death. They have access to a proper toilet facility. They have a blanket. Things we take for granted have much more significance to someone experiencing homelessness. Quite often, seeing others in similar situations helps them cope with their own. People in shelters get to know one another, share their stories, and through the experience, perhaps for the first time in months or even years, they see a steady foothold from which they can take the first step forward.
Mr. Carson politicizing homelessness and simultaneously vilifying Transgender homeless people living in shelters is another arrow over the bough of this Administration toward Transgender Americans. This one, to propagate fear and intolerance of innocent people in challenging circumstances.
It is beyond me how a man like Ben Carson and his henchmen in Senate can intentionally knock the wind from the sails of societies most vulnerable citizens.
But he is staying in theme with his long documented bigotry.
Leading up to the Presidential Race, Mr. Carson was making rounds on his campaign trail. In a 2015 interview with CNN’s New Day show he said. “Homosexuality is a choice because people “go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.”
After receiving tremendous backlash for his false and damaging statement, Carson made an a half-apology…
He appeared later that day on another show to chastise New Day for airing his comments and swore “I won’t be addressing gay rights issues for the duration of my presidential campaign.”
He lied. What he should have said is, “I will only discuss gay rights in the company of people who equally disapprove.”
Because as soon as he appeared on an ultra conservative talk show, he wasted no time railing against marriage equality with host Eric Metaxas; “Effectively what it does is it takes away from the tradition of family we’ve known for thousands of years, but also it negates an important part of the word of God. And if you can do that with one part of the word of God, you can do it with the rest of it too. Toss the whole thing in the garbage.” During the interview also emphasized that he’d like to see the Supreme Court Ruling that allowed LGBT marriage to be overturned.
We know that Ben Carson aligned with notorious anti-LGBT Vice President Mike Pence in signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This predated our new federal bill which will allow medical professionals to deny us medical attention if they are religiously or morally opposed to us. Pence and Carson advocated President Donald Trump’s establishing a new office within the Department of Health and Human Services, creepily dubbed, the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” Just today, that same office also removed all information regarding Bisexual and Lesbian women’s health.
So, did we expect anything more from Ben Carson? Did we from Betsy DeVos or Donald Trump?
This is simply par for the course anymore. The pushing of Transgender men and women back to the fringes of society, refusing to acknowledge our medical needs, attempting to exclude us from the Civil Rights Act by redefining it, subjecting us to state sanctioned abuse and discrimination imposed upon us by radical, religious zealots serves exactly who?
Who benefits by targeting Transgender individuals across the country? Who wins? We’re not like an invasive carp that is killing native species in your lakes. We’re not a mouse chewing on the wires in your house. What exactly is won if Trans people are included rather than systematically removed from recognition by government agencies- banned even.
Trump, DeVos, Carson, Paul Ryan and that entire cabinet of religious bigots win by stepping on the backs of the necks of Transgender Americans, simply because they can. That’s right. There is no reason other than to demonstrate disapproval and ultimately superiority and power over a vulnerable part of our society. Because there is no logical reason to continue this war on Transgender people, whether they’re in the Military or a Homeless shelter, the onslaught of attacks serve only to entertain Donald Trump’s fan base at our expense and win him the evangelical vote in 2020.