The Biden administration on Thursday withdrew a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have allowed single-sex homeless shelters to exclude transgender people from facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
The rule was part of a broad, governmentwide effort by the Trump administration to impose restrictions on civil rights for transgender people, even after a Supreme Court ruling affirming protections for gay and transgender workers. President Biden had broadly exerted the power of his office to freeze or overturn some of those restrictions almost immediately after taking office.
“We are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity,” Marcia L. Fudge, the housing secretary, said of the rule withdrawal in a statement. “HUD is open for business for all.”
The action represented a stark change in policy at the housing department, which said under the Trump administration last year that the rule would allow shelters to base admissions on “biological sex,” adding that the rule change would accommodate the “religious beliefs of shelter providers.”
Ben Carson, the previous housing secretary, had also expressed concern earlier, in 2019, about “big, hairy men” gaining access to women’s shelters to abuse or attack women seeking protection.
“The current HUD rule permits any man, simply by asserting that his gender is female, to obtain access to women’s shelters and even precludes the shelter from asking for identification,” Mr. Carson had said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers last year.
The proposed rule change was criticized by civil rights groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign — which said the rule would mean transgender women, and even potentially other women mistaken as transgender, may be referred to shelters that also accommodate men, where they could face abuse or assault. Some women could lose access to shelters entirely, they added.
“By ending this discriminatory proposal for good, the department is righting a serious wrong,” said Dylan Waguespack, the director of public policy at True Colors United, which works on preventing homelessness among L.G.B.T. youth. “Whether it’s homeless shelters, sports or health care, supporting the safety and dignity of all young people is a central tenet to our society, regardless of who they are or who they love.”