US: Salvation Army refuses to house homeless transgender woman because she hasn’t had surgery

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A Dallas woman who was left homeless last month has claimed the Salvation Army refused to house her because she is transgender, and hasn’t had surgery.

Jodielynn Wiley told the Dallas Voice that she received multiple death threats in Paris, Texas earlier this year, leading her to flee the town.

She fled to Dallas, and was given temporary accommodation at a Salvation Army-run centre while she sought emergency housing.

However, Wiley says that last month she was turned down for a two-year housing program with the Salvation Army because she had not had gender reassignment surgery.

She claims that a care worker asked her about surgery while assessing the need for a placement.

Wiley said: “After I said no, she said ‘Well, that’s why we can’t give you a room’. It was putting me in an uncomfortable situation and very rude.”

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Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, attempted to argue Wiley’s case, and told the workers they were “requiring a special condition that they wouldn’t require of another person.”

Gaither said Wiley’s trans status “was never hidden”, and it was wrong to deny her shelter based on “surgical conditions placed on her in order to meet stereotypical characteristics according to sex or according to gender identity.”

Blake Fetterman, head of the centre, admitted the problems were ‘not compliant’ with anti-discrimination policies.

She said: “I have to trust that my staff know how we provide services and provide them in keeping with our policies, and if they’re not, then that’s an internal issue.

“That’s something that we have to deal with.

“What you describe is not in keeping with our nondiscrimination policies.”

Despite being turned away by the Salvation Army, Wiley was later able to find housing through the Dallas Trans* Shared Housing Project.

Wiley has since filed a complaint about her treatment under the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

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