Yesterday was a tough day for transgender Granite Staters and other supporters of equality. After we spent months building unprecedented momentum for #TransBillNH, 187 representatives took the coward’s way out and voted to table the bill, effectively ending its chances of being passed this year.
But although we didn’t succeed in passing transgender non-discrimination protections, this effort was certainly not a loss. In the runup to yesterday’s disappointing vote, we notched several victories and built the statewide infrastructure we’ll need to pass #TransBillNH next time.
Unprecedented bipartisan support
This year, we showed definitively that supporting transgender non-discrimination is not a partisan issue. #TransBillNH had 11 co-sponsors, including three Republicans, and the GOP-led Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee overwhelmingly recommended that the bill “out to pass,” 15–2.
And during House deliberations, 16 Republicans bucked Speaker Shawn Jasper’s leadership directive and voted to preserve open debate on the bill.
#TransBillNH also secured the support of some of New Hampshire’s leading business, public safety and women’s rights groups, most notably the Business and Industry Association, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.
These groups were with us because the bottom line is, statewide transgender non-discrimination protections would help our economy and keep our communities safe. The best and brightest want to live and work in a state where their rights will be protected, and where they will be protected from violence. Not having these protections on the books puts New Hampshire at a serious disadvantage compared to every other state in the Northeast, which already do.
Representatives from the BIA, NHCASDV and the Chiefs of Police testified to this during February’s HHS Committee hearing. Unfortunately, some lawmakers chose not to listen.
Incredible grassroots support
The outpouring of grassroots activity from individual Granite Staters over the last few months shows that support for transgender non-discrimination is bigger than ever.
Before yesterday’s final vote to table #TransBillNH, advocates for #TransBillNH had sent more than 23,500 emails to lawmakers, made more than 600 phone calls to their state representatives and had dozens of face-to-face conversations with lawmakers.
Thousands of these calls and emails happened in the few hours between when the House adjourned on Tuesday and the final vote was called on Wednesday, demonstrating that we have built a massive statewide coalition that’s able to spring into action at a moment’s notice—and that will be a critical part of our winning strategy next time.
Transgender Granite Staters speaking up
Our biggest accomplishment this year? Empowering transgender people to make their voices heard. Over the last year, dozens of transgender Granite Staters and their families told their stories publicly, some for the first time.
They told their stories online as part of our New Hampshire Voices for Freedom spotlight. Transgender individuals like Matt Aversa, Kaden Michael, and Gerri Cannon spoke about being discriminated against in the workplace, a situation enabled by New Hampshire’s lack of employment non-discrimination protections for transgender people.
And families like the Hegartys and the Huckmans told stories about the challenges their transgender children face because of New Hampshire’s lack of public accommodations protections, including fighting to be included on school sports teams and to do something as simple as use the restroom.
Other transgender Granite Staters like Kenzo Morris—who was discriminated against at the DMV—and Tygh Lawrence-Clarke—who faced barriers to receiving proper health care—showed that New Hampshire’s lack of statewide transgender non-discrimination protections can affect literally every aspect of transgender Granite Staters’ lives.
Many chose to also share their stories with lawmakers, both at informal gatherings like February’s working lunch, and during the packed HHS Committee meeting where these stories helped persuade 15 committee members to do the right thing and advance #TransBillNH to the full House.
So even though we did not pass #TransBillNH this year, it’s clearer than ever that New Hampshire is ready for statewide transgender non-discrimination protections, and that we have the coalition of support we need to win.