Trump official Ben Carson says it’s fine for shelters to turn away trans women because of other people’s ‘feelings’

Ben Carson

Senior Trump official Ben Carson has suggested that it would be acceptable to deny services to trans people because “we have to take everybody’s feelings into consideration”.

At a hearing on Wednesday, the housing and urban development secretary was pressed by Democrat Mike Quigley of Illinois on whether federally funded homeless shelters should be allowed to have trans-exclusive policies.

Last year, Ben Carson proposed a rule that would pave the way for shelters with single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms and sleeping quarters, to operate in ways that could result in transgender people being barred or mistreated.

The proposed policy change, introduced last May, has drawn strong criticism from transgender advocates and Democrats.

At the hearing, Quigley argued that Carson was essentially saying “that if someone doesn’t like someone else in that shelter, for whatever reasons, that you can allow discrimination against those people”.

“No, what I’m saying is we have to take everybody’s feelings into consideration. You can’t just select a group and say that their feelings trump everyone else’s groups,” the secretary said.

Struggling to defend himself, Carson said that he would “work on” this guidance in order to avoid discriminating against trans people, to which Quigley replied: “Just for reference, that’s the third year in a row you’ve said that.”

When Quigley doggedly pushed Carson for a clear answer, the official replied: “You probably wouldn’t like [my answer]… because in the past, you don’t agree with my statement that everybody gets equal rights, but nobody gets extra rights.”

Here he alluded to a previous resolution, which Quigley signed, to condemn Carson for his previous remarks about transgender people. In a meeting with staffers in September, Carson is said to have gone on an angry rant against trans women in shelters, describing them as “big, hairy men“.

Quigley refused to back down, returning to the delay in Carson’s guidance. “That means in three years, the protections haven’t been in placed. You have never documented what you just talked about,” he said.

“So, you’re telling the trans community… because of how you perceive how some people react to them, it’s OK to discriminate against them?”

You can watch full six-minute confrontation between Quigley and Carson below.