5/1/09

Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (located at The Bridge) Transgender Policy

POLICY OF NON-DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL TREATMENT

MDHA has a non-discriminatory policy of respect for all people without regard to their race, ancestry, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, mental disability, physical disability, age, marital status, or other arbitrary characteristics. It is our goal to provide equal treatment of all homeless people seeking our services.

Discrimination is prohibited in all aspects of employment and housing practices, and MDHA is committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect. It is our intent to provide a welcoming atmosphere to all, in a physically and emotionally safe environment. MDHA will not tolerate the threat or acts of violence nor harassment based on discriminatory practices. MDHA appreciates the value of diversity and embraces all persons seeking services at any of our facilities.

As a provider of services for the homeless, MDHA recognizes that people living without housing have the right to decent, safe, affordable and appropriate housing and services, without regard to their physical attributes or protected status.

In as such, MDHA has adopted a new standard operating procedure that addresses gender perception and gender identity issues.

Please see attached policy.Policy for Accommodations of Transgender Persons*
I. Policy of Non-Discrimination [A policy of Respect]
A. Respect
Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) has a policy of respect for all people, including transgender people. The policy is to respect the gender of each person as they self-identify it. For example, if someone says she is a woman, she is a woman. A person’s gender does not depend on whether or not they have had surgery or other medical treatments. Employees should not require that guests or residents remove gendered clothing.
Employees must never tell others a guest’s or resident’s transgender status because it is confidential, and because if others know a person is transgender, he or she may be subject to additional discrimination, harassment or even assault.
B. Non-Discrimination
MDHA has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender. Gender means a person's actual sex or perceived sex and includes a person's perceived identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with a person's sex at birth. [“Gender” refers to actual or perceived sex and includes a person's identity, appearance, expression, or behavior whether or not that identity, appearance, expression, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.
Issues relating to non-discrimination shall be made clear in recruiting, informational materials, and orientation sessions. Physically safe, secure, and appropriate space with a welcoming, emotionally safe atmosphere shall be available to all persons at MDHA.
Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance is committed to ending discrimination. MDHA will not allow violence or harassment. MDHA is committed to the appreciation of the value of diversity, including diversity of gender identity.
C. Pronoun Use
Employees must display a basic respect for transgender men and women and ensure that others do so as well. This means asking transgender individuals what name or names they prefer to be called.
MDHA will refer to a transgender female as “she” when talking to the guest/resident, and use that pronoun in reports or other documents relating to the transgender guest/resident’s case. If the individual is presenting and living as a female (regardless of surgical status), mark the person as female (“F”) on documents relating to the transgender guest/resident’s case and refer to the person as “she” in the narrative. Do not refer to the person as “he” in the report, or when talking to the transgender guest/resident. This will be done out of respect to the transgender individual.
MDHA will refer to a transgender male as "he" when talking to the guest/resident, and use that pronoun in reports or other documents relating to the transgender guest/resident’s case. If the individual is presenting and living as a male (regardless of surgical status), mark the person as male (“M”) on documents relating to the transgender guest/resident’s case and refer to the person as “he” in the narrative. Do not refer to the person as “she” in the report, or when talking to the transgender guest/resident. This will be done out of respect to the transgender individual.
II. Eligibility for Services
The services at MDHA are made fully available to transgender men/women who live their lives “24/7” (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) or “full time”. In other words, such transgender persons who would otherwise qualify for services based upon objective criteria will be extended or denied services just as any other person would be. It shall make no difference whether or not the transgender man/woman has had or intends to have genital surgery (“sex reassignment surgery”), only that the transgender person lives his/her life as a man/woman. No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of the United States because of the other person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, or because he or she perceives that the other person has one or more of those characteristics.
III. Provision of Services
MDHA will provide transgender men/women who are accepted for services with the same range of professional services available to other guest/residents that we serve. Discriminatory and prejudice-motivated [bias] comments and other behavior, which creates a hostile environment on the part of Employees, volunteers, and other residents, will not be tolerated. Harassment of all kinds is prohibited. If guests/residents are harassing any person, including a transgender person, Employees must make sure that it stops. This policy is to be uniformly enforced whether the guest/resident is openly transgender or whether the guest/resident is thought to be transgender but has not disclosed their status.
A. Hiring for Employees and Volunteer Positions
MDHA will add “gender” or “gender identity” to its list of classes protected from discrimination in the agency’s hiring and volunteer retention practices. In other words, candidates for Employees and volunteer positions will not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or gender identity, and transgender candidates will be given the same consideration as other candidates.
B. Accessibility of Physical Accommodations
MDHA will make appropriate bathroom and bedroom facilities as well as changing areas available to transgender guest/residents.
People who identify as women are to be housed with the women and use the women’s showers and bathrooms. Transgender women shall have the same access to bathrooms, showers, changing areas, and bedrooms as persons assigned female at birth.
People who identify as men are to be housed with the men and use the men’s showers and bathrooms. Transgender men shall have the same access to bathrooms, showers, changing areas, and bedrooms as persons assigned male at birth.
People who do not clearly identify as male or female are to be housed in and use the bathrooms and showers in whichever section they feel safest. If this bothers the other residents of that section, Employees should patiently explain to those residents that the person is not a threat to them and that they should be respected.
Special accommodations may be made for transgender men/women who have not had genital surgery (“sex reassignment surgery”). They are considered “non-operative” or “pre-operative”. Transgender men (who have a vagina or breasts) or transgender women (who have a penis) may share bathrooms, bedrooms, and changing areas with birth assigned women/men if there are stalls, latching or locking doors, curtains, or other devices that provide them and other guest/residents with privacy (that is, prevent public exposure of genitals) when nudity is required. If such privacy is not available, reasonable attempts shall be made to provide alternate accommodations such as single bedrooms or alternate times to change or bathe. {Texas Law states: “Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: 1. Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offender or annoyed thereby… Is guilty of a misdemeanor.”}
IV. Posting and Distribution of Policies
MDHA shall publicly post non-discrimination policies for both employment and guest/resident services and shall distribute them to Employees as well as to volunteers and guests/residents. Written copies of these policies should be made available to anyone who request them or who might benefit from familiarizing or re-familiarizing themselves with them, including Employees, volunteers, and guest/residents. Cultural competent training’s on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues may also be an appropriate and helpful way to help everyone understand the importance of these policies to the agency’s mission and well being.
V. A commitment to Increasing Cultural Competence
MDHA will continue to assess its cultural competence in providing assistance to transgender men/women.
MDHA will continue to increase its knowledge of the transgender community through ongoing Employees and volunteer trainings.
MDHA will appoint an individual or a team of individuals to develop expertise on assisting transgender women/men who will be available to consult with other Employees about agency policies and clinical issues related to the needs and experiences of transgender guests/residents.
In addition to providing the full range of professional services made available by MDHA, transgender guests/residents will be linked with transgender community services that may better address their needs as transgender persons, and MDHA will work effectively with these community providers, utilizing a collaborating care management model.
MDHA will extend community education and outreach services to transgender guest/residents as it does to others groups of marginalized guests/residents.
VI. A Commitment to Record-Keeping and Statistics Tracking
MDHA will keep track of how many openly transgender-identified persons request and are provided our services. These statistics will include basic demographic information such as age, ethnicity, and annual income. To ensure effective information gathering, MDHA will review screening and intake procedures to make certain they are culturally competent with regard to transgender persons.

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