For Transgender Homeless, Choice Of Shelter Can Prevent Violence

Published: December 6, 2010

Tiffany Jones became homeless when she aged out of foster care last year. Although Jones identifies as a woman and takes female hormones, her legal paperwork identifies her as a man. But Jones was pleasantly surprised when she went to apply for help at a men’s shelter last September and was asked if she was transgender and wanted to live in a women’s shelter.

"They saw that I’m a woman,” says Jones, 22, who has been living in a women’s shelter for 10 months. “There’s still some negative attention surrounding living with women. I had a couple fights when I first came in but not anymore. I had to prove a point that just because I’m transgender there’s no way of beating me. But if I were in the men’s shelter I’d be beaten up or raped,” she said.

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Jones was fortunate that the staff member who handled her intake at the men’s shelter knew about [ the city Department of Homeless Services (DHS) policy allowing a transgender and gender nonconforming person to choose to stay in the shelter for the gender that he or she identifies as, regardless of whether the person has taken legal or medical steps to align his or her body with that identity.

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