Biden & Transgender Policy: Washington Post Biased Report on Homeless Shelter Policy

President Biden participates in a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wis., February 16, 2021.
(Leah Millis/Reuters)

In a news article yesterday evening, Washington Post reporter Tracy Jan — who covers “the intersection between race and the economy” — managed to pack an impressive number of left-wing talking points into a mere 700 words.

The article was intended, it seems, to report on news that President Joe Biden will withdraw a Trump-administration Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposal that would have allowed homeless shelters to serve individuals based on their biological sex. Instead of describing the policy accurately or acknowledging the entirely reasonable intention behind it — chiefly, to protect the safety and privacy rights of women — the Post presents progressive arguments as if they were fact.

Consider the article’s title: “Biden administration withdraws Trump-era proposal to allow homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people.”

It is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact, that allowing a shelter to serve biological women constitutes “discrimination” against those who identify as transgender. Absent ideological bias, a reporter would point out that there are circumstances when a homeless shelter might reasonably serve only biological women, such as when a shelter is designed to house victims of domestic abuse or sex trafficking.

Though the Trump-administration’s proposed rule did not suggest that biological men who identify as women pose a particular risk, the administration offered anecdotes suggesting that vulnerable women might rightly fear that some men would exploit gender-identity policies to enter single-sex spaces.

For instance, the administration cited a lawsuit in Anchorage, Alaska, where city officials used gender-identity regulations to force a local women’s shelter to house biological males who identified as women. Trump’s proposed rule also noted a civil complaint from nine homeless women in Fresno, Calif., who alleged that a local homeless shelter “enabled sexual harassment because a biological male who self-identified as a female entered a homeless shelter and showered with females.”

Reading the Post’s article, one would have no idea that these things ever took place. Instead, Jan describes Trump’s proposed policy as an “attempt to roll back civil rights protections,” accusing the administration of “accommodating only people whose sex assigned at birth matches those served by single-sex homeless shelters.”

This phrasing mirrors a similarly biased news report in CNN last month, in which a news writer claimed that “it’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and there is no consensus criteria for assigning sex at birth.”

The Post’s article includes a single quote from Ben Carson, defending the proposal he shepherded at HUD, alongside several quotes from Biden officials and another from a self-proclaimed “transgender advocate.” Meanwhile, Jan presents uncritically a Biden official’s assertion that it would be “inappropriate, traumatic and intrusive” to require an individual to share their biological sex before being admitted to a shelter.

Determined to expose herself as an ideologue, Jan goes on to describe the initial Obama-administration policy — which compelled all homeless shelters to serve individuals based on self-described gender identity rather than biological sex — as an effort to “take into account the difference between actual and perceived gender identity and clarified that sex-based discrimination could be motivated by perceived nonconformity with gender stereotypes.”

These sorts of assertions, far from clarifying anything about the policy debate at hand, are unmoored from scientific reality and better suited for opinion columns than for news article. At the Post, it’s getting harder to tell the difference.

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