Transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive people continue to experience overwhelming levels of harassment and discrimination in shelters and programs across the Commonwealth and across the nation. Homelessness within the trans community is all too critically common.

Best Policies and Practices

In December 2013, MTPC released Shelter for All Genders: Best Practices for Homeless Shelters, Services, and Programs in Massachusetts in Serving Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Non-Conforming Guests (Revised 2023). This guide provides recommendations to agencies working with transgender and gender non-conforming persons in emergency and transitional shelters or services throughout the Commonwealth.

These recommendations were prepared by the Policy Committee of MTPC and reflect the best practices for inclusive shelters and programs used in other areas of the United States; existing laws, policies, and regulations for shelter systems in other states; and policy recommendations devised by transgender and LGBT think tanks and shelter policy specialists.

The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality reports that nearly one-quarter of the survey respondents evicted from their home or denied a home or apartment because of being transgender; nearly one-third have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives due to transgender-related discrimination. Of transgender people who have tried to access shelters, 70% have experienced harassment by shelter staff or residents and more than half (52%) of those who stayed at a shelter in the past year were verbally harassed, physically attacked, and/or sexually assaulted because of being transgender.

Furthermore, those trans people in the study who have experienced homelessness were highly vulnerable to mistreatment in public settings, police abuse, and negative health outcomes. The overwhelming evidence indicates the necessity for safety and accessibility to homeless shelters and programs for transgender people. The experiences of homeless transgender people here in Massachusetts reflect the findings from national research.

Community members, service providers, and allies who have witnessed discrimination are encouraged to tell us about it. They can be incredibly helpful in gaining a broader understanding of the barriers facing transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive people who are seeking shelter. Contact us if you or someone you know have experienced discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.