Freedom New Hampshire statement on 2017 legislative session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 30, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected]freedomforallamericans.org | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

Concord, N.H. — The New Hampshire General Court is expected to adjourn today. Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager for Freedom New Hampshire, released the following statement regarding the 2017 legislative session:

“Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House of Representatives fumbled an historic opportunity to secure nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters in housing, employment and public services. While we are disappointed that a small majority of members of the House refused to even discuss House Bill 478, we are proud of the broad, bipartisan coalition that came together to support this bill.

“If there is one thing we learned this year, it’s that lawmakers who met and heard from their transgender constituents were more likely to support updating current laws to explicitly protect transgender individuals and their families from discrimination. Freedom New Hampshire and our faith, public safety and business allies are committed to raising the voices of our transgender neighbors, family members, coworkers and friends so that we can successfully secure these desperately needed protections.”

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Introducing the Municipal Action Center, A Place to Keep Momentum for #TransBillNH Going After The 2017 Legislative Session Ends

June 30, 2017 by admin

Today marks the end of the New Hampshire state legislative session. And while #TransBillNH remains on the table—stalling statewide non-discrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters—over the past year, there’s been strong and steadily growing momentum to protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination at the local level. That’s why today, we’re unveiling our new Municipal Action Center.

The Municipal Action Center serves two purposes. First, it’s a place where we’ll highlight the progress that local advocates are making, such as the big victory in Keene in April, when the City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution extending local non-discrimination protections to transgender city workers.

And if your city isn’t listed on our map of municipalities that have acted to support transgender residents and #TransBillNH, the Municipal Action Center is also a place where you can find tools and information for taking action to change that.

Many of the cities and towns highlighted in our Municipal Action Center have also acted to formally endorse #TransBillNH. And over the next six months, in the lead up to the 2018 legislative session, it will be essential that we grow the number of municipalities that formally endorse an update to New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination to send a signal to state lawmakers that they should also act quickly to ensure that transgender Granite Staters, no matter where they live, are protected from discrimination in employment, housing or service in public places.

Click here to find out if your city or town has passed a resolution endorsing #TransBillNH and protecting transgender workers—and to learn more about how to get involved at the local level in growing the movement for transgender freedom.

Though today marks the end of the 2017 legislative session, it does not mark the end of the fight to advance non-discrimination protections for transgender people at the state level.

Here’s what to expect next year:

The quick proliferation of local ordinances is proof that grassroots support for #TransBillNH is spreading fast. Our singular mission in the next six months is to continue to grow that local momentum so that when state lawmakers return to the Gold Dome in 2018, the message is clear: It’s time to pass #TransBillNH.

If you haven’t yet, check out our Municipal Action Center to learn more and take action in your community.

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Support transgender rights in NH

June 27, 2017 by admin
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Granite Staters Who Fought For Marriage Equality Won’t Rest Until #TransBillNH Is Made Law

June 26, 2017 by admin

Marriage equality became the law of the land in New Hampshire on January 1st, 2010, following a years-long battle in the legislature. Five years later, on June 26th, 2015, the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision expanded marriage equality to every state in the nation.

Today, on the second anniversary of that landmark decision, we’re highlighting the stories of two couples who spent years lobbying for Marriage Equality in the Granite State—and who are now throwing everything they’ve got into the movement to pass #TransBillNH.

Because although marriage equality expanded many rights and privileges to same-sex couples, the lack of non-discrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters means they can still be fired (or not hired), evicted, and denied service in public places like restaurants, doctors offices, and government buildings—married or not.

***

Kenzo & Jen

Jen and Kenzo Morris have been on the front lines of the movement for LGBT equality in New Hampshire for more than a decade. The pair met and fell in love in 2003, and began working toward marriage equality in 2006.

Kenzo is transgender, but at that point wasn’t yet living as the man he knew himself to be. So the only way he and Jen could secure legal recognition of their relationship was to form a civil union, which they did on January 1st, 2008, the day civil unions were legalized in New Hampshire.

However, Jen says, civil unions didn’t confer the same legal protections as marriage under state or federal law. So they kept pushing.

“We had won a battle, but still separate is not equal. We continued to fight for marriage so that we were not still being treated like second-class citizens. Our country was founded on non-discrimination and equality for all, not just for some.” —Jen Morris

“We had won a battle, but still separate is not equal. We continued to fight for marriage so that we were not still being treated like second-class citizens,” she says. “Our country was founded on non-discrimination and equality for all, not just for some.”

That notion, as well as the fact that Kenzo is transgender, now informs their activism in support of #TransBillNH. Both Jen and Kenzo say now, as then, it’s scary to be the face of this movement—to put themselves out there, especially knowing any harassment or discrimination they face from speaking out could bounce back onto their two twins.

But, Jen says, “as much as it’s scary—being parents—to kind of put ourselves out there, I want to create the world that my kids can be proud of, no matter who they are, with no discrimination.”

“Things change when we tell our stories, when we come out of our closets, and are not hiding,” Kenzo says. “As scary as that is, that is how change happens. And we’ve gotta do that, to get our rights.” —Kenzo Morris

Kenzo agrees, saying change will only come when more transgender people start speaking out, sharing their stories, and spreading knowledge to those who might not have the facts.

“Things change when we tell our stories, when we come out of our closets, and are not hiding,” Kenzo says. “As scary as that is, that is how change happens. And we’ve gotta do that, to get our rights.”

***

Corey & George

The Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision came down only a few weeks after Corey Zinn and George Davidson were married.

They say that while their marriage was already fully recognized in New Hampshire, the Obergefell decision gave them extra piece of mind—both because of the knowledge that their legal rights as a married couple would be recognized outside of New Hampshire, and because of the symbolism.

“Our wedding was already valid in New Hampshire, but with the SCOTUS ruling it was recognized across the country,” Corey says. “And that was validation that we aren’t lesser people than our friends and neighbors in the eyes of the government.”

Even the small benefits that marriage brings—like being able to check the “married, filing jointly” box on their tax returns—have revolutionized their lives. The magnitude of something small like this might be hard for people who’ve never struggled with acceptance to understand, George says, but for him and Corey, it is huge.

“That might sound like nothing to make a big deal about, but for those of us who have had to contend with not being given the same rights and responsibilities others take for granted, it was—and still is—a shining moment of validation and acceptance,” —Corey Zinn and George Davidson.

“That might sound like nothing to make a big deal about, but for those of us who have had to contend with not being given the same rights and responsibilities others take for granted, it was—and still is—a shining moment of validation and acceptance,” George says.

Now, he says, the two of them want their transgender friends and neighbors to feel the same thing.

“Now our transgender siblings deserve the same protection—and moment of validation and acceptance—under the law, both here in New Hampshire and across the country.”

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Freedom New Hampshire celebrates 2nd anniversary of marriage equality

June 26, 2017 by admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2017
Owen Loftus | [email protected].org | 719-406-6564
www.FreedomNewHampshire.org

CONCORD, N.H. — Two years ago today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marriage equality.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager of Freedom New Hampshire, released the following statement marking the important anniversary:

“For two years now, loving and committed same-sex couples have enjoyed the right to marry as well as all the rights and responsibilities associated with it. The decision marked a critical and joyous moment in the LGBT community’s quest for justice. While we celebrate marriage equality, we recognize that we still have much work to do before all Americans and Granite Staters are truly treated the same under the law. In our own state of New Hampshire, there is no law protecting transgender  people from discrimination in housing, employment or public spaces. Lawmakers have the opportunity to correct this injustice and prove that New Hampshire truly  values the rights and liberties of everyone who lives in or visits our state.”

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Supporting protections against discrimination based on gender identity

June 26, 2017 by admin
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A Father’s Duty To Protect His Transgender Daughter From Discrimination

June 14, 2017 by admin

When my family began this journey, I was given advice by someone I was close with. They said to me I should continue telling my transgender daughter she is a boy and when she turns 18 and still persists, then I’ve done the best I could.

Forty percent of transgender people attempt suicide. To say this is unfortunate is a grievous understatement. In large part transgender people who do commit suicide are those with little to no support system—those people who feel little to no love, acceptance or rights as a person.

My job as a father is not to make this gamble. As a father, I will never gamble my child’s life. As a father, I will support and uphold my children in who they are.

I am the father of five beautiful children. One of my kids is transgender. Let me be completely up front: Coming to terms with the idea that my son is not my son, but rather is my daughter, had to be one of the most challenging obstacles as a father that I have faced.

She had been dressing up and watching shows that are generally reserved for young girls from a very young age. I never gave it much thought because we tried to be gender non-specific in the home. A few years ago, she wanted to be a fairy for Halloween. She wore the fairy costume constantly. One night she said to us, “Don’t judge what’s on the outside of the fairy costume. Judge only what’s inside.”

It did not occur to me at the time the significance of her saying this to us. Not long after, she came to us and asked if we would please raise her as a girl.

What’s the best I can do?

Panic ran through my head. “What are people going to think? I’m sure this is just a phase.” I was stricken with a fear the likes of which I’ve never known.

“I realized: This has nothing to do with me. It’s not about me. It’s about loving my child as she is. Loving our children unconditionally as their authentic selves is a father’s highest calling and the greatest motion we can make is that of love.” –Eric Golden, Belmont

Finally, and not too long later, I realized: This has nothing to do with me. It’s not about me. It’s about loving my child as she is. Loving our children unconditionally as their authentic selves is a father’s highest calling and the greatest motion we can make is that of love. It’s about allowing people to exist. My daughter deserves the same rights and privileges as a citizen that all of my children receive.

Telling my children they are not who they say they are; disrespecting my fellow humans by enforcing another worldview onto them that suits other interests and minimizes them in the process is not the best I can do. It is not the best any of us can do.

All transgender people are worthy and have a right to be who they are. I strongly urge all of us to embrace and hold true what is most loving. Let us as men, fathers, parents and people release falsehood and fear. Let us strive to be understanding, supportive, authentic and courageous.

Today, I am honored to be the father of a beautiful, intelligent and gifted transgender daughter. I am grateful for the experience and everything she has taught me. My life is richer and I am stronger. I have forged new friendships and have met beautiful people along the way. Today, I am humbled to walk among you. Protector, provider, ally, friend and father. Today is about love, our families and remembering our utmost role in them.

That’s why I fully support passing #TransBillNH. In February of this year I had the fortunate opportunity to testify in front of the HHS committee to support HB 478 and was present in the rally before the House session in March. Transgender people in this this state—including my daughter—and everywhere deserve to exist in public spaces. They deserve to rightfully obtain housing regardless of gender identity. Our transgender family should never, for any reason be denied employment, nor should they lose their jobs based on their gender.

We must protect all transgender people in the state of New Hampshire. I will continue fighting for my daughter and my friends until then, and well beyond.

And that is the best I can do.

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A Transgender Father Explains To His Son That He Can Be Legally Discriminated Against In NH

June 14, 2017 by admin

I came out as transgender at the young age of 16. These days that is not so uncommon, but just 15 years ago, that was a rare occasion. Then, at age 22, my life changed dramatically again, when I was thrown into fatherhood because I was dating a woman who had a son, Garret.

I didn’t know what I was doing—by a long shot.

In the years that followed, I raised him alongside Pam. We did it all: We ate dinner together, read books, and went on adventures. We were an “insta-family,” as I liked to call it at the time.

Garret never knew I was transgender throughout these years. I was stealth, and becoming more and more disconnected from my transgender identity. As Garret got older, my own fears of being “found out” intensified. What if he thought less of me as a father if he knew? What if he was embarrassed? What would other parents say?  

These are questions I still ask myself, but now, Garret knows I am transgender. I came out to him when he was 11. He did not have much to say, as Pam and I raised him knowing other transgender folks, and being around other people of the queer community. I am lucky he is so indifferent to it. It’s a non-issue, and talking about it seems to be silly in his eyes.

More recently, I brought Garret to a filming I was participating in for a documentary. I explained to him what the film was for, i.e. to promote non-discrimination for the transgender community. He was surprised and saddened to hear that transgender folks can be legally discriminated against in New Hampshire.

“I explained to him what the film was for, i.e. to promote non-discrimination for the transgender community. He was surprised and saddened to hear that transgender folks can be legally discriminated against in New Hampshire.”–Jamie Gagne, Nashua

Writing those words, “transgender people can legally be discriminated against in New Hampshire,” pulls at my heartstrings.

I have not experienced direct discrimination as an adult, or as a parent, but I have experienced it indirectly. The fear of being targeted for discrimination is what made it harder for me to be open with my son about my identity.

Because people do not know that I am transgender, they speak freely about queer folks—and what they say can be very hurtful. I know that people do not understand what it means to be transgender. People make fun of people who are transgender. And, lastly, people think that’s entirely OK. It’s the transgender people who are not OK, in their minds.

Whether we have directly experienced discrimination or not, we feel it. We feel it as less-than-citizens, and it deeply affects how, if, and when we come out to our children.

These days I am more out than I used to be. It took a lot of personal growth to get here. I am more comfortable being the dad I always wanted to be, but it has taken a lot of work. It is my hope that in the future, transgender fathers will not have to do all that work. It is my hope that they can celebrate being the fathers that they are, as soon as they become fathers.

Happy Father’s Day to all of those awesome dads!

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In Their Own Words: Two Fathers On How Family Drives Their Advocacy for #TransBillNH

June 14, 2017 by admin

This week, we’re celebrating Father’s Day by sharing the stories of two fathers for whom the push to enact explicit, statewide transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections is a deeply personal one.  

The first is Jameson Patrick Gagne, a transgender man and father whose ability to be open with his son about his transgender identity has been made more difficult because of New Hampshire’s lack of transgender non-discrimination protections.

The second is Eric Golden, who says it’s his fatherly duty to his transgender daughter to ensure that she feels safe, welcome and protected.

***

Jameson Gagne & His Son, Garret | Nashua

I came out as transgender at the young age of 16. These days that is not so uncommon, but just 15 years ago, that was a rare occasion. Then, at age 22, my life changed dramatically again, when I was thrown into fatherhood because I was dating a woman who had a son, Garret.

I didn’t know what I was doing—by a long shot.

In the years that followed, I raised him alongside Pam. We did it all: We ate dinner together, read books, and went on adventures. We were an “insta-family,” as I liked to call it at the time.

Garret never knew I was transgender throughout these years. I was stealth, and becoming more and more disconnected from my transgender identity. As Garret got older, my own fears of being “found out” intensified. What if he thought less of me as a father if he knew? What if he was embarrassed? What would other parents say?  

These are questions I still ask myself, but now, Garret knows I am transgender. I came out to him when he was 11. He did not have much to say, as Pam and I raised him knowing other transgender folks, and being around other people of the queer community. I am lucky he is so indifferent to it. It’s a non-issue, and talking about it seems to be silly in his eyes.

More recently, I brought Garret to a filming I was participating in for a documentary. I explained to him what the film was for, i.e. to promote non-discrimination for the transgender community. He was surprised and saddened to hear that transgender folks can be legally discriminated against in New Hampshire.

“I explained to him what the film was for, i.e. to promote non-discrimination for the transgender community. He was surprised and saddened to hear that transgender folks can be legally discriminated against in New Hampshire.”–Jamie Gagne, Nashua

Writing those words, “transgender people can legally be discriminated against in New Hampshire,” pulls at my heartstrings.

I have not experienced direct discrimination as an adult, or as a parent, but I have experienced it indirectly. The fear of being targeted for discrimination is what made it harder for me to be open with my son about my identity.

Because people do not know that I am transgender, they speak freely about queer folks—and what they say can be very hurtful. I know that people do not understand what it means to be transgender. People make fun of people who are transgender. And, lastly, people think that’s entirely OK. It’s the transgender people who are not OK, in their minds.

Whether we have directly experienced discrimination or not, we feel it. We feel it as less-than-citizens, and it deeply affects how, if, and when we come out to our children.

These days I am more out than I used to be. It took a lot of personal growth to get here. I am more comfortable being the dad I always wanted to be, but it has taken a lot of work. It is my hope that in the future, transgender fathers will not have to do all that work. It is my hope that they can celebrate being the fathers that they are, as soon as they become fathers.

Happy Father’s Day to all of those awesome dads!

***

Eric Golden & His Daughter | Belmont

When my family began this journey, I was given advice by someone I was close with. They said to me I should continue telling my transgender daughter she is a boy and when she turns 18 and still persists, then I’ve done the best I could.

Forty percent of transgender people attempt suicide. To say this is unfortunate is a grievous understatement. In large part transgender people who do commit suicide are those with little to no support system—those people who feel little to no love, acceptance or rights as a person.

My job as a father is not to make this gamble. As a father, I will never gamble my child’s life. As a father, I will support and uphold my children in who they are.

I am the father of five beautiful children. One of my kids is transgender. Let me be completely up front: Coming to terms with the idea that my son is not my son, but rather is my daughter, had to be one of the most challenging obstacles as a father that I have faced.

She had been dressing up and watching shows that are generally reserved for young girls from a very young age. I never gave it much thought because we tried to be gender non-specific in the home. A few years ago, she wanted to be a fairy for Halloween. She wore the fairy costume constantly. One night she said to us, “Don’t judge what’s on the outside of the fairy costume. Judge only what’s inside.”

It did not occur to me at the time the significance of her saying this to us. Not long after, she came to us and asked if we would please raise her as a girl.

What’s the best I can do?

Panic ran through my head. “What are people going to think? I’m sure this is just a phase.” I was stricken with a fear the likes of which I’ve never known.

“I realized: This has nothing to do with me. It’s not about me. It’s about loving my child as she is. Loving our children unconditionally as their authentic selves is a father’s highest calling and the greatest motion we can make is that of love.” –Eric Golden, Belmont

Finally, and not too long later, I realized: This has nothing to do with me. It’s not about me. It’s about loving my child as she is. Loving our children unconditionally as their authentic selves is a father’s highest calling and the greatest motion we can make is that of love. It’s about allowing people to exist. My daughter deserves the same rights and privileges as a citizen that all of my children receive.

Telling my children they are not who they say they are; disrespecting my fellow humans by enforcing another worldview onto them that suits other interests and minimizes them in the process is not the best I can do. It is not the best any of us can do.

All transgender people are worthy and have a right to be who they are. I strongly urge all of us to embrace and hold true what is most loving. Let us as men, fathers, parents and people release falsehood and fear. Let us strive to be understanding, supportive, authentic and courageous.

Today, I am honored to be the father of a beautiful, intelligent and gifted transgender daughter. I am grateful for the experience and everything she has taught me. My life is richer and I am stronger. I have forged new friendships and have met beautiful people along the way. Today, I am humbled to walk among you. Protector, provider, ally, friend and father. Today is about love, our families and remembering our utmost role in them.

That’s why I fully support passing #TransBillNH. In February of this year I had the fortunate opportunity to testify in front of the HHS committee to support HB 478 and was present in the rally before the House session in March. Transgender people in this this state—including my daughter—and everywhere deserve to exist in public spaces. They deserve to rightfully obtain housing regardless of gender identity. Our transgender family should never, for any reason be denied employment, nor should they lose their jobs based on their gender.

We must protect all transgender people in the state of New Hampshire. I will continue fighting for my daughter and my friends until then, and well beyond.

And that is the best I can do.

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In 3 – 2 Vote, Candia School Board Repeals District’s Non-Discrimination Protections for Transgender Students

June 10, 2017 by admin

On Thursday, the Candia School Board voted by a slim margin (3 – 2) to repeal a district-wide policy that protects transgender students from harassment and discrimination.

The three board members backing the repeal, Chair Matt Woodrow, Dana Buckley and Stephanie Helmig, cited interest in finding a “compromise” that involves renovating the entire school with single-stall bathrooms.

This is a false remedy. Ultimately, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies are about ensuring ALL students—regardless of their gender identity—can learn, thrive, and fully participate at school. Stripping these protections from transgender students leave them separate and unequal. What’s more, holding out for a hypothetical “compromise” denies transgender children the safe and welcoming environment all schools should seek to provide for their students, and puts them at risk of discrimination every day.

Opponents of the repeal, board vice chair Becky Cronk and Kim Royer, noted that testimony to the board made at last week’s public hearing—both from residents and non-residents—regarding the policy showed a majority in support of ensuring transgender students are fairly and equally protected from discrimination.

Board members’ Woodrow, Buckley, and Helmig’s vote to repeal these protections flies in the face of community members, administrators, and teachers who by and large support this policy. And it throws transgender students under the bus.

Click here to send a message to the Board Members who voted to repeal and tell them you reject this shameful step back.

With Candia’s repeal, that leaves 16 school districts with policies protecting transgender students from discrimination: Gilford, Dover, Epping, Greenland, Hooksett, Monroe, Northwood, Oyster River, Portsmouth, Sanborn, Concord, Londonderry, Merrimack Valley, Somersworth, Rochester and Dresden.

Opponents of transgender freedom could be coming for those policies next, in an effort to systematically chip away at the few protections afforded transgender people in the state of New Hampshire—and stall support for statewide protections under #TransBillNH.

Regardless of how the Candia School Board ultimately voted, the fact remains: A majority of Candia residents supported the transgender-inclusive school policies—and a majority of Granite Staters support #TransBillNH. Now is no time to back down. We’ve got to ramp up to show the opposition we are stronger, bigger, and more outspoken—and we aren’t going anywhere.

Click here to sign the pledge in support of non-discrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters young and old—and be sure to share the pledge to bring your friends into our movement.

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Packed House in Manchester Shows Our Movement to Protect Transgender Granite Staters from Discrimination is Not Slowing Down

June 6, 2017 by admin

Last night’s house party in Manchester drew more than 20 attendees, the highest turn out yet—proof that our message of ensuring fairness and freedom for transgender Granite Staters is resonating.

Elected officials in attendance were Rep. Mary Freitas, Rep. Patty Cornell, Rep. Amanda Bouldin and Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig. All seemed eager to carry the effort to pass #TransBillNH into the next session and to connect with their colleagues about supporting the bill, too.

Linda Johnson of the McLane Middleton law firm hosted the house party. Linda, who is a labor and employment lawyer, spoke of her work helping companies and educational institutions implement transgender-inclusive workplace policies.

Again, though, the stars of the evening were transgender Granite Staters who came to share their stories with the hope of increasing support for #TransBillNH.

First was Linda Rogers, who has spoken with Freedom New Hampshire before about how she decided not to come out at work after she moved from Ohio to New Hampshire for a new job. This job required a rigid security clearance, as well as international travel to countries where it is not safe to be transgender, so she had to keep her true identity as a woman secret and live a dual life as a man. Linda is hoping for #TransLawNH’s passage will make it easier for today’s workers to live their true gender identities openly, and freely at work and in their day to day lives.

Rosaline Aurora also spoke. A transgender woman and veteran, she was discharged from her duties for being transgender—even though her unit claimed to be transgender-inclusive. Discrimination followed Rosaline into civilian life. She had a lot of trouble finding a job after being discharged and suspects her gender identity played a role.

Another speaker, who requested anonymity because he feared his family would be targeted, spoke about the harassment and discrimination his 17-year-old transgender daughter faces at school.

Stories like these are a powerful part of building support for these much-needed transgender non-discrimination protections. If you have a story you’d like to share, we invite you to sign up to attend or host an upcoming house party.

We’ll be going strong all summer long, hosting lawmakers at homes and in coffee meetups statewide to help elevate the experiences of transgender people and build support for these much-needed transgender non-discrimination protections. Sign up here if you can host or attend a house party in your community.

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Residents discuss new transgender policy at Candia school

June 2, 2017 by admin
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