DAVENPORT, Fla. — Editor's note: The image above is a stock photo.
A Polk County RV resort and its manager are being charged with discrimination against a transgender woman tenant, according to federal authorities.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a news release that Nathan Dykgraaf, the owner and manager of 21 Palms RV Resort, Inc. in Davenport, gave one of his tenants a letter stating he knew she was transitioning and to "act as a man, talk as a man, and dress as a man to avoid trouble."
"I have been informed of your actions to have your sex changed to a female, I am told you have started taking the necessary medication and that after a period of time your change will be completed. To avoid problems you must: 1. Act as a man 2. Talk as a man 3. Dress as a man 4. Avoid tight clothing that is revealing sexual organs. If you follow the above steps trouble will be avoided. Sincerely, Nathan D," the letter read, according to the HUD charges.
As HUD explains, the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating because of a tenant’s gender identity.
“No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing,” Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said. “Setting restrictions like these is not only unacceptable, it is illegal. This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring housing providers meet their fair housing obligations.”
The charge will be heard by a U.S. administrative law judge unless either party elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the judge finds that discrimination has occurred, they may award damages to the tenant for harm. The judge also has the power to impose fines.
Federal authorities say they were made aware of the issue after the tenant filed a complaint with HUD. Anyone who believes they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint with HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).