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Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

September 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox news program Friday to address criticisms over comments he made defending a policy allowing federally-funded women’s shelters to bar “transgender” men from sleeping and showering among battered women.

In May, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule guaranteeing that HUD-funded entities with “single-sex or sex-segregated facilities” such as restrooms, showers, and sleeping quarters may consider “privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs,” and an “individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents” when determining what sex to categorize users as.

The new rule would be a reversal from Obama-era changes that forced such shelters to place “transgender” men claiming to be women with actual women, including abuse or assault victims, without regard to appearance, anatomy, or the “complaints of other shelter residents.”

Last week, The Washington Post reported that unnamed HUD staffers relayed comments made by Carson during a private meeting that “transgender people should get the same rights as everyone else, but they don’t get to change things for everybody else,” and relayed conversations with shelter operators and women’s groups who didn’t want “big, hairy men” entering these shelters.

The staffers were reportedly surprised and dismayed by the phrasing; an unnamed HUD senior official responded that Carson “does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals,” and had been referring to men who merely feign transgender status to gain access to vulnerable women. 

Nevertheless, numerous Democrat leaders and presidential candidates, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, condemned Carson and called for him to be fired. On Friday evening, Carson appeared on Tucker Carlson tonight to explain the situation:

“I simply pointed out the fact that, you know, we have to have policies that take into consideration everybody’s rights,” Carson said. “I say everybody has equal rights; nobody gets extra rights.”

“I talked about some of the women's groups who have come to me, and I’ve had many in my office, and they say they are uncomfortable with the policy in existence, which says you must accept a person's designation of their gender regardless of their physical characteristics,” he continued. “What we've decided to do, first of all we’ve upheld the 2012 equal access law; we have no intention of changing that, but in terms of that broad definition of gender being whatever you say it is, we said we're going to leave that to the local jurisdictions.”

If you have a women's shelter and you’ve been operating well, you get to decide how you're going to run it, the federal government doesn't need to be telling people who is a man and who is a woman,” he declared. “That's a decision they can make by themselves.”

“And I quoted a group that came to me, and they were very upset, and they said, you know, a big hairy man came in here and he says he’s a woman, and that upsets us because many of us are trying to escape that,” Carson said. “But the political correctness says you have to say what we want you to say, and that will destroy freedom of speech.”

“And I’ve offered transgender groups the opportunity to let me know what their solution would be so that everybody’s rights are observed,” he added. “I haven’t heard one peep.”

As LifeSiteNews covered when Obama imposed the previous rule change in 2016, the danger of diluting sex-segregated facilities is not theoretical. In 2012, Christopher Hambrook assaulted multiple women at a Toronto shelter by claiming to be transgendered. “One of the guests at a rescue mission overheard someone on the street saying, ‘Dude, if you go down to the rescue mission and tell them you’re transgender, you can sleep in the women’s dorm and even shower with them,’” John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, told LifeSiteNews at the time.