Transgender athlete finds love and support in small-town New Hampshire

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New Hampshire art exhibit looks at transgender lives

January 29, 2017 by admin
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Gilford school board adopts nondiscrimination policy for transgender students

January 23, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — Gilford schools are the latest to adopt a policy protecting transgender students from discrimination.

“Every student in New Hampshire deserves the right to receive an education in a safe environment, free from discrimination,” Gerri Cannon, a transgender rights advocate and member of Freedom New Hampshire, said. “Gilford schools have taken an important step toward ensuring this goal.”

Amongst other protections, the new measure allows students to dress and use facilities that match their gender identity. It also affords students the right to be addressed by their proper name and pronoun without having to change official records.

Other New Hampshire school districts, including Rochester, Oyster River, Hampton and Concord have adopted similar measures.

Gilford’s policies are now inline with a guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice asserting that Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 apply to transgender students.

State Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, has introduced legislation to update the state’s existing civil rights laws to provide fully inclusive protections for all transgender individuals in New Hampshire, including students. The measure will grant explicit nondiscrimination protection to transgender individuals in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants and hospitals. House Bill 478 is supported by a large coalition of businesses, faith and civic leaders, educators and Granite Staters from all walks of life.

“Transgender students want to receive an education, without fear of harassment, violence or discrimination. We are grateful leaders in Gilford, Rochester, Oyster River and elsewhere have taken steps to provide all their students with a safe place to learn,” Cannon added. “We hope clear nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment and public accommodations will soon be afforded to all transgender individuals in New Hampshire.”

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Gilford Becomes 17th New Hampshire School District to Pass Explicit Non-discrimination Protections for Transgender Students

January 23, 2017 by admin

The Gilford School Board is moving forward with a district-wide policy that would protect transgender students from discrimination.

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The board passed the policy—which allows students to wear clothes and use facilities that match their gender identity—without contest during its scheduled meeting on January 9. The new policy also indicates students should be addressed by their chosen name and pronouns without having to change their official school records.

Gerri Cannon, a transgender rights advocate and member of Freedom New Hampshire, praised Gilford for taking proactive steps to ensure our state’s schools are places where all children feel safe and welcome:

“Every student in New Hampshire deserves the right to receive an education in a safe environment, free from discrimination. [And] transgender students want to receive an education, without fear of harassment, violence or discrimination. Gilford schools have taken an important step toward ensuring this goal.”

With this change, Gilford becomes the 17th school district in the state to adopt educational policies aimed at respecting transgender students and protecting them from harassment, bullying and other forms of discrimination.

Other New Hampshire school districts that have either updated existing non-discrimination policies to cover transgender students or passed explicit transgender-inclusive policies include Rochester, Dresden, Candia, Dover, Epping, Greenland, Hooksett, Monroe, Northwood, Oyster River, Portsmouth, Sanborn, Concord, Londonderry, Merrimack Valley and Somersworth.

These policies only protect students, but New Hampshire lawmakers could ensure that all transgender Granite Staters—adults and students—are protected from discrimination by passing House Bill 478, which would grant explicit non-discrimination protection to transgender individuals in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as stores, restaurants, hospitals and schools.

A coalition of businesses, faith and civic leaders, educators and Granite Staters from all walks of life are coming together to support this critical legislation. If you’re one of them, click here to send a message to lawmakers urging them to support it.

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GILFORD SCHOOL BOARD SETS POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION FOR LGBT STUDENTS

January 20, 2017 by admin
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A Closer Look At The Hurdles & Headaches Transgender Patients Face As They Navigate The Medical System

January 18, 2017 by admin

Tygh Lawrence-Clarke never felt quite right in his own skin. When he started to feel this way as a teenager—that he should be a man, even though his body was female—he had assumed it was simply a product of sexual orientation.

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“I didn’t understand my feelings. They didn’t have the word transgender back then, and all I could figure out when I turned 17 was I thought I was a lesbian. Nothing was ever quite right.”

Then one day he was chatting with his wife Sandra about a support group she runs for transgender patients at the VA Medical Center in Manchester—and a lightbulb went off.

“I thought ‘I’m transgender; that’s what’s going on here.’ After that, I went to conventions, learned everything I could, and I just knew, ‘Yeah that’s me!’ I wanted to cry. I finally felt at home. I felt amazing.”

Tygh knew that he wanted to transition right away. But navigating the medical system as a transgender man presented some bumps in the road, including insensitivity from nurses, doctors and other medical professionals—the very people Tygh thought would be most equipped to handle transgender issues.

The most frustrating thing for Tygh is being constantly misgendered. One day, four days after major surgery, he had to out himself to an entire waiting room of patients after the intake nurse mistakenly assumed Sandra was the patient because Tygh’s driver’s license still showed a female name and gender. There was no effort to discretely mark Tygh’s gender identity on his chart, so he had to correct every new provider he saw.

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The constant misgendering moved from inconvenient to embarrassing when Tygh went in for a follow-up appointment. The intake personnel handed him a pink medical gown and led him into a female-only changing room. He says the women were appalled—and he was mortified.

Even after Tygh had his name and gender changed on his driver’s license, the misgendering continued to happen almost every time Tygh saw a doctor—even at a routine dental appointment. That’s because there is no way to signal gender identity on his insurance documents except through changing the sex listed. The process and requirements for that aren’t clear, and Sandra and Tygh aren’t sure they’d want to do that anyway since it could jeopardize his ability to receive certain types of care in the future.

Sandra doesn’t understand why insurance companies have been so slow to change their recordkeeping. She knows it’s possible, considering the VA, one of the country’s largest health systems, has created a gender marking system for patient records.

15727098_10212110781625211_625767561829108418_n“Any kind of electronic health record should be modified,” she said. “When we were married, and I added Tygh to my federal insurance, their computer system would not accept two females as being married and eligible for insurance coverage. But they adapted then—so they can do it now. If the VA, with it’s huge bureaucracy, can do this, others should be able to.”

For many transgender people, being misgendered is a deeply hurtful experience. Over time, it can lead to depression and even thoughts of suicide. These challenges haven’t stopped Tygh—but he says being misgendered at the doctor’s office can drive some  transgender people to forgo care altogether.

“This stuff needs to change. Transgender people are not getting health care because they’re afraid to go, and they get outed—who knows what might happen with people who are more dysphoric,” he said. “But I’m not shying away; I’m going to do this—I’m going to fight the fight.”

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Portsmouth City Council Moves to Support Transgender Non-discrimination Under HB 478

January 17, 2017 by admin

Last week, lawmakers officially introduced HB 478, legislation to extend non-discrimination protections to transgender Granite Staters—and within a day, municipal backing for the bill began to roll in.

On Thursday, the Portsmouth City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of statewide transgender non-discrimination protections under HB 478.

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Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine led the initiative, saying “Portsmouth has been a longtime leader in supporting equality for our citizens. It’s simply unfair to discriminate against transgender residents.”

The motion received strong support from Mayor Jack Blalock and members of the City Council.

Portsmouth is one of ten New Hampshire cities that have passed resolutions or other measures in support of transgender non-discrimination. In addition to the recent resolution in support of statewide protections, Portsmouth has passed legislation to protect local city workers against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

“Portsmouth has been a longtime leader in supporting equality for our citizens. It’s simply unfair to discriminate against transgender residents.” -Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine

This rising tide of local support signals a readiness on the part of Granite Staters to see full equality enacted across New Hampshire. Adding “gender identity” to the list of classes protected under state law would not only ensure fair and equal treatment for all Granite Staters—regardless of whether or not someone is transgender—it would also offer clarity for cities which, under current state law, must enforce a confusing and irregular patchwork of protections.

If you stand with Portsmouth, and a vast majority of Granite Staters across New Hampshire in support of a commonsense update to ensure fair and equal protections for transgender people under New Hampshire law, click here to sign the pledge now.

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Transgender Non-discrimination Legislation Filed at the Capitol

January 12, 2017 by admin

Today, lawmakers officially filed House Bill 478, legislation that would update New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination to include protections on the basis of “gender identity.”

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The much-anticipated legislation was pre-filed last month by Rep. Ed Butler, who had until the January 6th deadline to gather co-sponsors for the bill.

As of today’s filing, HB 478 has eleven co-sponsors, including three Republicans, one of whom is Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.

This marks strong bi-partisan support for the non-discrimination legislation and signals a rising tide of acceptance for and understanding of who transgender people.

Ultimately HB 478 is a commonsense update to long-standing state laws. New Hampshire has prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, physical or mental disability, religious creed, and other categories for decades. In 1998, the legislature updated state laws to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation.

HB 478 would ensure that transgender people are afforded these same protections, and cannot be fired, evicted, or denied service just because of who they are.

With bipartisan support for transgender non-discrimination at record highs, our chances to advance these critical protections have never been better. Help pass HB 478 and send a message to your lawmakers now urging them to support the bill.

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Portsmouth City Council endorses equality law

January 12, 2017 by admin
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Momentum Builds For Statewide Protections As Cities & Towns Lobby State Lawmakers, Move To Protect Employees From Discrimination

January 10, 2017 by admin

When the Somersworth City Council voted last week to amend city hiring policies to protect transgender workers from discrimination, it became the 10th local government in New Hampshire to stand up for these kinds of protections.

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Somersworth updated its Pledge Against Discrimination, a personnel policy that ensures the city’s public workforce and contractors can’t be fired or harassed on the job because of their age, marital status, race, color, creed, national origin, sex, political affiliation, disability, sexual orientation—and now, gender identity.

Five other New Hampshire cities and towns have tackled discrimination in a similar way. Hanover, Hopkinton, Newmarket, Plymouth and Portsmouth all have employment policies ensuring that municipal staff are treated equally while they’re at work, regardless of their gender identity.

Newmarket and Portsmouth have gone a step further, passing resolutions that affirm their own commitment to transgender equality in the workplace while also urging lawmakers in Concord to pass statewide transgender non-discrimination protections. Dover, Durham and Exeter have also passed resolutions that put the focus on state lawmakers to resolve the patchwork of local protections that transgender workers must navigate to protect themselves from employment discrimination.

And Manchester has passed a transgender-inclusive health care resolution, ensuring that transgender city employees can’t be denied treatment or benefits because of their gender identity.

While local protections in New Hampshire municipalities are specific to public workers—they don’t cover private sector employees or discrimination in housing or public places—they indicate that momentum for more inclusive non-discrimination protections is building in communities across the state.

And as Freedom New Hampshire works with lawmakers, businesses, law enforcement officials and more to advance statewide legislation that would explicitly prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of gender identity—the rising tide of local support will help us make our case for comprehensive protections for transgender Granite Staters.

Click here to send a message to lawmakers urging them to make transgender non-discrimination a priority during the 2017 legislative session.

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Somersworth becomes latest NH city to support nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals

January 4, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 4, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected] | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — The Somersworth City Council unanimously voted to support transgender nondiscrimination protections on Tuesday night. The updated ordinance ensures that transgender individuals in Somersworth can work for the city and focus on their jobs without having to fear being discriminated against.

“This is a victory for equal protections in Somersworth,” Gerri Cannon, a transgender rights advocate and member of Freedom New Hampshire, said after the vote. “I would like to thank the City Council for standing with their transgender constituents and our families in supporting this important measure.”

By ensuring that no one can be fired from their city job based on their gender identity, the updated ordinance ensures that employees are judged solely on their job performance.

“Cities like Somersworth, Hopkinton, and Plymouth and others have taken it upon themselves to update their nondiscrimination protections to ensure everyone, including transgender individuals, can work for the city without fear of discrimination. Nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do their their job performance,” Cannon added. “New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not afford fully explicit nondiscrimination protections to all residents.”

Currently, 18 states and more than 200 municipalities explicitly protect transgender individuals from discrimination. Cannon hopes New Hampshire will join the ranks this legislative session.

In November, state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, announced that he will introduce legislation to update the state’s existing civil rights laws to provide fully inclusive protections for transgender individuals. The bill has already received strong support from across the political spectrum, as well as from law enforcement, civic, faith and business leaders throughout the Granite State.

“Lawmakers have the opportunity to ensure everyone can live their lives to their fullest potentials,” Cannon said. “I, Freedom New Hampshire and our partners look forward to helping lawmakers achieve full equality for transgender Granite Staters and our families in 2017.”

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The First Day of New Hampshire’s Legislative Session Marks Start of Race to Pass Transgender Non-Discrimination

January 4, 2017 by admin

Today is the first day of New Hampshire’s legislative session. As lawmakers return to the State Capitol, they will be faced with countless bills.

One is of urgent order: Legislation to explicitly protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination under state law.

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New Hampshire has had statewide non-discrimination protections on the books for decades. In 1998, the legislature passed legislation to update these laws to include protections on the basis of “sexual orientation.”

But now, nearly 20 years later, transgender Granite Staters still lack explicit protections.

This year, lawmakers can change that. Commonsense legislation has been pre-filed that, if passed, would extend non-discrimination protections to transgender people in housing, employment, and public places like restaurants, doctors offices, hotels, and movie theaters.

This legislation isn’t groundbreaking. Eighteen states have already passed non-discrimination legislation to protect transgender people, including every other state in the northeast. More than 200 towns and cities across the United States—including 10 here in New Hampshire—have passed non-discrimination ordinances, resolutions, or other measures ensuring protections for transgender people.

Just this week, Somersworth became the latest municipality to pass a resolution prohibiting discrimination against transgender city workers. The City Council voted in unanimous support of the resolution. Some members called it a “no brainer.”

This is just one example of the rising tide of public support for transgender non-discrimination in New Hampshire. As lawmakers return to the State Capitol today, they need to know that a vast majority of their constituents support transgender non-discrimination—and want to see it passed in 2017.

Click here to rush a message to your lawmakers urging them to make transgender non-discrimination a top priority this year.

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