The Salvation Army has made a point of pushing back against the information campaign I launched years ago to point out their history of discriminating against LGBT people. They have denied their own history, asked queer volunteers and employees to troll the internet telling people how great the church is, and launched a public relations campaign complete with a website, testimonials, and a big ole coat of whitewash.
A New York City substance abuse center is the latest Salvation Army facility to be exposed as discriminating against the community after a sting operation by the NYC Commission on Human Rights. The facility has been charged with “gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations, and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms,” according to a press release from the city.
“The last thing New Yorkers battling addiction, depression, or any mental health challenges need is discrimination and harassment at the door,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray who leads the city’s mental health and substance misuse efforts in the release. “Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when receiving health services, just like anyone else. I am proud to live in a city that fights for transgender rights and look forward to further strengthening anti-discrimination protections for all New Yorkers.”
After being tipped off by the Transgender Legal Defense Fund that substance abuse centers were discriminating against transgender people, the city sent employees out to the facilities to find out how they would treat a trans person who came to them seeking help. Four out of the 12 centers they tested were discriminating to various degrees.
While the commission didn’t identify what each facility did specifically, they say one center outright refused to accept transgender patients. Representatives at other centers told testers that transgender women would be housed according to their gender assigned at birth, in violation of gender identity protections under the NYC Human Rights Law. One representative said that “people with moving male parts would be housed with men,” while another said “it depends on how far along the person is in the process.” Some said trans people would be required to stay in private rooms.
In the most shocking of findings, some facilities also said that they perform physical examinations on transgender patients to determine whether they are on hormone medication or have had surgery.
While the Salvation Army claims to have changed their ways, they have never apologized for their previous obviously harmful practices of turning away LGBT people in need and lobbying the federal government to allow them to do so legally. Maybe that’s why cases like these keep popping up despite the public relations campaign the group launched years ago.