At Least One Brave Staffer Walked Out in Protest of Ben Carson’s Transphobic Remarks

Photo: Damian Dovarganes (AP)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary shocked many staffers with his transphobia to which I say.... okay! At a meeting at the San Francisco HUD office this week, The Washington Post reported that Carson’s remarks were that he was (is?) concerned about “big, hairy men” in women’s homeless shelters, which those in attendance took to meant to be transphobic.

“Carson’s remarks visibly shocked and upset many of the roughly 50 HUD staffers who attended Tuesday’s meeting,” according to the Post’s Tracy Jan and Jeff Stein. And at least one (hopefully) principled staffer walked out.

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One staffer who took notes during the hourlong speech told the Post that Carson said, “Transgender people should get the same rights as everyone else, but they don’t get to change things for everybody else.”

Another staffer called the speech a “stream of consciousness” to the newspaper.

A senior department official gave a statement to the Post: “The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false.”

It’s hard to give Carson the benefit the doubt as HUD, under his leadership, has moved to remove protections for transgender people in homeless shelters, despite promises to Congress he made in May, according to Politico. At the time, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) said the rule came only one day after she asked Carson if HUD would change policies regarding protection and accommodations for gender identity. “Yesterday, I asked Secretary Carson directly if he was anticipating any changes to HUD’s Equal Access Rule, and he said no. The announcement today that HUD will now allow anti-trans discrimination in shelters demonstrates that he either lied to Congress or has no idea what policies his agency is pursuing,” Wexton told Politico in May. “Either way, it’s unacceptable.”

Carson has also said transgender people should not be allowed to serve in the military.

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And it’s not just this California meeting that has included demeaning remarks about transgender people. “His overall tone is dismissive and joking about these people. It’s disrespectful of the people we are trying to serve,” an anonymous government official told The Washington Post.

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