Senior Housing Provider Accused of Discriminating Against Transgender Applicant
In March, the Maine Human Rights Commission found evidence that an assisted living provider violated state nondiscrimination protections when it denied an applicant a room because she is a transgender woman.
The commission’s investigation began last fall, after the LGBTQ legal advocacy organization GLAD filed a discrimination complaint with the commission on behalf of a 78-year-old woman, claiming that she was denied a room by a Maine assisted living facility because she is transgender. It is most likely the first discrimination complaint filed in the U.S. by a transgender senior against a long-term care facility.
According to the complaint, while the applicant was recovering from a medical emergency in the spring of 2021, a hospital social worker contacted the assisted living facility on the patient’s behalf and was told there were rooms available. But when the facility learned that the applicant is transgender, it informed the hospital it wouldn’t admit her because it was concerned she wanted to reside in a room with a female roommate, despite the fact that the facility regularly places women in semi-private rooms with other women.
The applicant’s claim asserts that the facility discriminated against her based on her gender identity, transgender status, and her sex, all explicitly protected under the Maine Human Rights Act. HUD has interpreted the federal Fair Housing Act as protecting applicants and residents on these bases as well, and during its Fair Housing Month kickoff webinar in April, HUD pointed to this case as an example of state and local fair housing cases it was monitoring.
The Maine Human Rights Commission will now bring the parties together to try to resolve the matter and, failing that, the case may proceed to court.