Transgender Homeless Youth Deserve to Live Full Lives

Mar 31, 2024

On March 31st, International Day of Transgender Visibility will celebrate transgender people around the world while raising awareness of the systemic prejudice they can receive. In a society where acceptance and support can be scarce, transgender people are disproportionately affected by homelessness, but changes in policy and increased support can help to change that reality. Transgender people everywhere deserve to live full lives, including recognition of and respect for their gender identities.

Up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, highlighting the urgent need for awareness and action that focuses on these young people. Rejection by families of origin and illegal discrimination in housing and employment can make daily life more precarious and leave transgender people without a needed safety net.  Although the Equal Access Rule mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in HUD-funded shelter services, enforcement remains a challenge, leaving these youth especially susceptible to discrimination and harassment. In addition, a 2023 study by the National Coalition for the Homeless found that nearly 60 percent of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness have been sexually victimized.

Standup for Kids provides mentorship programs where we connect with our LGBTQ youth to help reduce the risks that they are especially susceptible to, including sex trafficking, violence, mental health issues, and acute disease. Our staff and volunteers work hard to build one-to-one relationships with the youth we serve, and to make sure all outreach and support are free from stigma, homophobia and transphobia. By addressing disparities with sensitivity and understanding, we can all better support transgender youth facing homelessness.

Transgender and all LGBTQ youth can be better protected from becoming homeless, but it will take strong policies at the government and workplace level, along with access to supportive service, care and community. Housing providers can play a crucial role by providing culturally competent services that recognize the social and cultural needs of this population. Robust anti-discrimination policies within workplaces and stringent anti-bullying and harassment protocols in schools can help improve inclusivity and safety. If young people can remain involved with learning, and keep needed jobs, they are more likely to maintain stable housing now and in the future.