Trans Woman Files Discrimination Complaint Against Dallas Salvation Army
Transgender woman Jodielynn Wiley has filed a complaint against the Dallas Salvation Army, saying that they threatened to boot her from the housing program because she hadn’t yet completed her gender reassignment surgery.
The Dallas Voice reports that after fleeing death threats in February from her home in Paris, Texas, Wiley had been staying at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center.
On April 17, Wiley reportedly met with her case worker and a counselor to discuss her options prior to her April 21 exit date. She was told about a more permanent, two-year housing program, but then denied the option because she had not yet had gender reassignment surgery.
"After I said no, she said ’Well, that’s why we can’t give you a room,’" Wiley told the Dallas Voice. "It was putting me in an uncomfortable situation and very rude."
Luckily, Trans Pride Initiative President Nell Gaither was sitting in on the meeting via phone. She explained to the women that the were, "requiring a special condition that they wouldn’t require of another person."
Wiley filed a complaint with the Fair Housing Office under the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. The Dallas Voice reports that spokesman Calvin McAllister said that the parties may not yet have been contacted to start the investigation process, but assured that it would be investigated.
The results may help formally establish the protocol for shelter programs in Dallas, with McAllister saying that any exemptions seemed to only deal with private homeowners renting space, and assuring that they would discuss it with the city attorney’s office.
"They have no right to say how they are perceived is who they are," McAllister said. "You have no right to tell [transgender people] who you think they are. It’s degrading and unlawful."
"One reason for filing the complaint was to see how this is actually interpreted by FHO," Gaither said. "I’m very glad that Fair Housing is taking it up."
Raw Story notes the Salvation Army website says that the organization does not discriminate against gays, writing "The Salvation Army believes that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor, including race, gender and ethnicity," while admitting "occasionally one of our millions of employees and volunteers might say or do something that does not reflect our values. We address these incidents as soon as they arise."
The Advocate reports that Wiley has since found housing with another transgender woman through the new Dallas Trans Shared Housing Project, established by Gaither.
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.