TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Federal housing authorities have charged a Davenport RV park and its owner with discriminating against a tenant who is transgender.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Nathan Dykgraaf, the owner and manager of 21 Palms RV Resort Park, with violating the Fair Housing Act, a federal law that prohibits housing discrimination because of race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation and/or disabilities.
According to the complaint, the unidentified tenant starting renting a single-family home in the park in June 2018. Months later, in Jan. 2021, the tenant came out as a transgender woman and “began widely wearing feminine-presenting clothing in public.”
The same month, the tenant allegedly received a letter from Dykgraaf that stated “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 tenant said they feared being evicted and stopped dressing as a woman and expressing her gender identity. She avoided interacting with neighbors and staff and limited her use of the park’s amenities, the complaint said.
The tenant filed the complaint with HUD in Feb. 2021. She and her minor child moved out of the park in August.
HUD said Dykgraaf responded to their inquiry in March 2021, stating the tenant was “not free to engaged with other tenants about her clothing and transition that makes them uncomfortable. It is considered disruptive to the community.”
On Tuesday, HUD announced it is charging Dykgraaf with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“As a result of Respondents’ discriminatory conduct, Complaints and Complainant [redacted] minor child suffered actual damages including, but no limited to emotional distress, lost housing property, and out-of-pocket expenses,” the charging documents said.
“No one should have to change how they express their gender identity to maintain their housing,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “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 conduct alleged here provides a clear example of unlawful discrimination,” said Damon Smith, HUD’s General Counsel. “This Charge makes clear that the Department will take action to stop housing providers from subjecting transgender tenants to such unlawful conduct.”