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Anchorage Faith-Based Women’s Shelter Turns Away Trans Woman

Faith-based women’s shelter the Hope Center in Anchorage, Alaska has settled a lawsuit with the city over turning away a transgendered woman looking for an overnight stay.

The incident took place in 2018 with the trans woman filing a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission soon after. This prompted the Hope Center to file a complaint with the U.S. District Court arguing their constitutional rights were being violated.

According to the shelter, their religious beliefs and limited space prevented them from accepting the trans woman. It's under their policy to only accept women born female. “It’s a great victory,” said Ryan Tucker, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom representing the Hope Center. “Everyone should be free to live and serve others according to their faith, without the fear of unjust government.”

Anchorage settled in the end, with Alaska Public Media saying "the court signaled they didn't favor the city's interpretation" that non-profit shelters fall under public accommodations in the city’s code, which is defined as any business or organization providing goods or services to the public that are applicable to all persons. 

The Hope Center's legal team argued it had the legal right to set policies on who is allowed in their facilities and that the city's equal protection ordinance doesn't apply to them. Under the terms of the settlement, Anchorage has to pay $100,000 of the shelter's legal fees and cannot interfere with the Hope Center policies.

The Realist Woman:

At the bottom of the Hope Center's website is the scripture from Matthew 25:35 which says "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home." New Living Translation

Under their About Me section, you learn this facility not only provides shelter, but they provide showers, laundry services, clothing and thousands of meals to the homeless. They also have a vocational culinary training program for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals as a way of helping them develop job skills. Displayed on their website is the proverb "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

This shelter has been helping this community for 30 years. And it's a wonderful thing. But I have a problem with their whole argument. They identify as a faith-based non-profit shelter whose religion prevents them from helping a transgendered woman. They use scripture to back up their argument. But what they fail to realize is Jesus was inclusive. The very people society deems outcasts, unworthy and unclean are the very people Jesus decided to love anyway and he expects his followers to do the same. 

The Hope Center has conveniently decided to gloss over Jesus' words a few verses below in Matthew 25:40 which says "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" Jesus was saying what you do to others, you do to him. They turned away this woman who needed shelter, and according to Jesus, they turned him away. The commandments Christians are to live by are found in Matthew 22:34-40, where Jesus says "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself..."

The Hope Center has decided to be "religious" instead of loving all people. Transgendered women need the love and support of those who claim to love Christ. As amazing as the shelter is to their community, shame on them for denying this woman shelter, especially in the name of religion. 

Transgendered women suffer more from violence, homelessness and are targeted more than female born women. GLAAD has a great list of resources and organizations helping transgendered women. Click on the link to the article if you want to know where and how to help.

You can also donate to Blue Letter Bible. It's a fantastic resource for biblical interpretations if you want to know the Bible better than the Hope Center does.