As LGBTQ Nation’s Bil Browning points out, the Salvation Army doesn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ community. The Protestant Christian charity has a long history of opposing LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights laws, at times even forcing queer citizens to renounce their identity in order to receive help.
And now four Salvation Army substance abuse centers in New York have been caught actively discriminating against trans people seeking help.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights announced it found the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn was discriminating against transgender patients, charging the center with “gender identity discrimination” as well as “discriminatory housing policies,” which both violate the NYC Human Rights Law. The Addicts Rehabilitation Center in Manhattan, the Promesa Residential Health Care Facility in the Bronx, and the Thomas and Marie White Health Center in Queens were also caught in violation of the law.
The commission was originally tipped off to the violations by the Transgender Legal Defense Fund after the organization found that some abuse centers in the city were discriminating against trans patients. The commission proceeded to setup a sting operation across substance abuse centers, and the results were distressing.
In one case, a center outright refused to accept transgender patients. One center said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men,” while another explained that housing would depend “on how far along the person is in the process” of their gender transitioning. Some patients were forced to undergo physical examinations to see if they began hormone replacement therapy or if they had any surgeries. Others were forced into rooms based on their assigned sex at birth, not gender.
The press report did not reveal which centers turned away trans patients or forced intake residents to undergo exams. Just that all four had broken the law.
“The last thing New Yorkers battling addiction, depression, or any mental health challenges need is discrimination and harassment at the door,” New York First Lady Chirlane McCray said. “Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when receiving health services, just like anyone else.”
Hollis V. Pfitsch, the deputy commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau for the commission, echoed McCray’s message.
“At a time when the federal government is rolling back LGBTQ protections, New York City is doubling down on its efforts to make sure everyone is treated equally and with respect,” Pfitsch said. “Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been targets of bias and discrimination for far too long.”