Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has faced significant backlash after he made denigrating comments about transgender people at a staff meeting on Tuesday in San Francisco. Democrats have also called for Carson’s resignation since The Washington Post reported it.
In his speech, Carson said that “big, hairy men” were trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters and also that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, and saying that no one group deserved “special rights.”
Many of the 50 HUD staffers present were upset, according to The Post, and at least one person walked out in protest. Carson released a statement to attempt to “clarify” his comments, but it hasn’t fallen upon understanding ears.
“Suggesting the department should adopt a policy that prioritizes someone’s discomfort over another person’s right to shelter validates bigoted ideas about transgender women and the frankly ludicrous idea that ‘big, hairy men’ pretend to be women in order to harm cisgender women,” one HUD staffer who heard his comments in San Francisco told The Post.
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Another HUD staffer who also spoke on the condition of anonymity said Carson’s email “just made it worse” and “put salt in the wound, because this description of transgender people is offensive.”
This is not the first time that Carson has made remarks about transgender people that many consider to be offensive. While running for president, Carson referred to transgender people as “abnormal” and said they should not be in the military.
In his current position, he has repeatedly mocked transgender people in internal meetings in Washington, according to The Post. He has also done more than talk. As HUD secretary, Carsonweakened Obama-era protections for transgender people, saying he believes in equal rights, not “special rights.”
On the HUD website, Carson also removed links to documents that guided emergency shelters on how best to comply with agency regulations and serve transgender people facing homelessness.