Today, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) announced four complaints against city substance abuse centers, including a Brooklyn clinic run by The Salvation Army, for anti-transgender practices.
The Salvation Army is a religious international charity which opposed same-sex marriage, supports religious exemptions from LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws and has faced previous allegations of anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination.
How did the Salvation Army discriminate against transgender people?
In a press released last Thursday, the NYCCHR said that its ongoing investigation uncovered instances where centers refused to admit transgender patients, assigned rooms according to patients’ gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity and subjected patients to physical exams to determine gender identity.
These actions violate gender identity protections guaranteed under New York City’s Human Rights Law. The Commission could fine the centers up to $250,000 for willful and malicious violations of the law. It could also require the centers to pay compensatory damages to victims for emotional distress and to undergo trainings on the city’s human rights statutes.
The city began their investigation in September 2016 after the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund reported allegations of discrimination against transgender patients.
Commission investigators inquired at a dozen different centers “whether the centers accepted transgender patients for treatment and where those patients would be housed.”
The Salvation Army has a history of anti-trans discrimination
“At a time when the federal government is rolling back LGBTQ protections, New York City is doubling down on its efforts to make sure everyone is treated equally and with respect,” said Hollis V. Pfitsch, the NYCCHR’s Deputy Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau. “Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been targets of bias and discrimination for far too long…. In New York City, everyone has the right to be themselves without hatred, violence, or discrimination.”
In May of 2014, a transwoman in Dallas filed a lawsuit with the city’s fair housing office after the Salvation Army allegedly denied her shelter because she had not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery.
In 2011, longtime writer and gay activist Bil Browning launched an information campaign detailing instances of the Salvation Army’s other anti-LGBTQ dealings.
Featured image by Reptile8488 via iStock