Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) Secretary Ben Carson made dismissive comments in a recent internal meeting that multiple people present interpreted as an attack on transgender people, according to a CNN item that cites The Washington Post.
Three people at the meeting in HUD's San Francisco office said Carson expressed concern about "big, hairy men" attempting to enter women's homeless sheltersand he allegedly complained about the blurring of gender roles.
In 2016, Carson compared being transgender to changing ethnicities. News of his comments at the recent meeting came the same day that 61 House members denounced what they call "anti-LGBTQ" changes made to the 2019 HUD Notice of Funding Availability.
In a statement, new Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David siad, "This is what Donald Trump's cabinet officials do. Ben Carson has spent his career in politics expressing disgust toward the existence of transgender people.
"From his comments on trans people in the military to his support for a proposal that would literally permit emergency shelters to turn away trans people who are homeless to his unqualified support for a White House that has made attacking trans people a mantra, it is hardly surprising that Ben Carson would blatantly dehumanize trans people in his official capacity."
National Center for Transgender Equality spokeswoman Gillian Branstetter was quoted condemning Carson's comment in the Post, The Hill noted. "It's gravely insulting to have the specter of violence from cisgender men used to restrict the rights of transgender people who are ordinarily the victims of that violence," she said.
UPDATE: Carson reportedly tried defending his comments via an agency email he sent Sept. 20, Newsweek noted, citing The Washington Post. "During a recent meeting with local staff in San Francisco, I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women's groups about the difficulty they were having with women's shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women, and that HUD's policy required the shelter to acceptwithout questionthe word of whoever came in, regardless of what their manifested physical characteristics appeared to be," he reportedly wrote.
A 2018 study found that there is no correlation between expanding bathroom access to transgender people and increased predatory incidents.