Signing Off: The Campaign to Pass #TransLawNH Is Over, But the Movement for Transgender Freedom in NH Continues

On Thursday, June 14, advocates that had been working for months—and in some cases, years—for transgender rights in the Granite State gathered to celebrate a big victory: the passage of HB 1319, which updates state law to fully protect transgender people from discrimination on the job, in their homes and in public places like restaurants and retail shops. 

Revelers gave speeches, sang and added their signatures to a poster-sized copy of the bill, known formally as “An act prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.” The poster will tour the state for parades and celebrations during Pride Month, and after that will hang in the ACLU of New Hampshire offices.

Governor Sununu signed HB 1319 on June 8th, and it will officially take effect 30 days later, on July 8th. This comes nearly a decade after the last serious push for such legislation, in 2009. That bill made it narrowly through the New Hampshire House of Representatives after two tries only to be rejected by the Senate.

Advocates started preparing again in late 2016 for another try. During the 2016-2017 session, the House of Representatives tabled an identical bill, HB 478. The legislation remained active, however, and was reintroduced as HB 1319 for the 2017-2018 session by Rep. Ed Buter, who also sponsored the legislation a decade ago.

Momentum for HB 1319 rose quickly. Building on a positive recommendation from the House HHS Committee in 2017, the House Judiciary Committee said it ‘Ought to Pass’ in February 2018, and the full House agreed in early March, passing HB 1319 195-129. The Senate agreed two months later, sending HB 1319 to Governor Sununu’s desk with a 14-10 vote on May 2, 2018.

Now that he has officially signed the bill, our campaign is officially over. But the movement to realize full transgender freedom in New Hampshire will continue. There are many issues left to tackle, and we want to know which of those you care about most, so we know how best to communicate with the community that’s come together around passing HB 1319.

Take our quick, 5-question survey and let us know what trans-specific issues you think are most pressing in the year ahead.

Some issues that are top-of-mind for our current Freedom New Hampshire team are:

  • Ensuring better health care access for transgender people
  • Making birth certificate gender markers more easily changeable
  • Organizing for more inclusive school board policies
  • Better educating the public about transgender issues
  • Improving conditions for transgender inmates

Our hardworking coalition member organizations—ACLU-NH, GLAD, FFAA, Rights & Democracy, PFLAG-NH and Transgender NH—will be taking the lead on many of these issues in the future, and depending on your interests you may be hearing from them in the future too.

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It’s Done: Governor Sununu Signs #TransBillNH!

June 8, 2018 by admin

Moments ago, Governor Sununu signed HB 1319 into law, saying once and for all that we will not tolerate discrimination against transgender people in the Granite State!

The law is scheduled to take effect 30 days from now, meaning from then on transgender Granite Staters will have the same protection from discrimination as everyone else at work, when looking for a place to live, or when they’re out in public.

New Hampshire is now the 19th state to ensure full and explicit nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT people—and the first to pass transgender-inclusive protections in a Republican-controlled state. But we’re sure we won’t be the last, because freedom and fairness are bipartisan values.

Take a moment to celebrate today, by doing two things:

Leave Governor Sununu a quick thank-you note that we’ll deliver to him.

Sign up to join us at our Community Signing Ceremony & Celebration in Concord on Thursday, June 14th at 6 PM.

After nearly a decade of speaking out, gathering allies and laying the legislative groundwork, it’s hard to believe we’re finally here. Over the last two years especially, transgender residents, their families, businesses large and small, law enforcement organizations, anti-violence advocates, civic leaders and faith leaders have worked so hard to make the case for freedom and fairness.

And in the end, fairness won.

But even though our campaign is over, it’s important not to let the community we’ve built fade away. All of us together are a powerful force for progress in the Granite State, and there is a lot more work to do when it comes to expanding freedom and opportunity for LGBT Granite Staters.

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Celebrate Passing #TransBillNH at Pride Events Across New Hampshire

June 1, 2018 by admin

Pride month officially starts today, and the first event of the season is Concord Pride, kicking off June 2nd at 2 PM on the State House lawn.

Our former campaign manager Linds Jakows will speak at Concord Pride at 3:30 pm about how we were able to move transgender freedom forward this year in New Hampshire. Other Pride events around the state include:

Saturday June 16th: Rural PRIDE 2018
12-4 PM
Visitors Center, City Planning Office
14 North St, Claremont, NH 03743
Facebook event

Saturday June 23: Portsmouth PRIDE 2018
12-11 PM
Portsmouth, NH
Location TBD, likely Strawbery Banke
Facebook event

Sunday June 24: Keene Pride! Rainbow Hair and T-shirts
11 AM-4 PM
Central Square, Keene NH
Facebook event

Saturday, June 30: Nashua Pride
2-5 PM
Main St., Nashua NH
Facebook event

Saturday August 25: Rochester NH Pride and Dance Party!
2-10 PM
Hanson St, Rochester NH
Facebook event

Hope to see you at Concord Pride, or a Pride celebration near you!

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#TransBillNH Signature Watch: A Quick Update on the Process

May 23, 2018 by admin

A quick update on the timeline for Governor Sununu signing HB 1319.

First off, he is still 100% committed to signing the bill, but getting it to his desk officially can take some time.

Here’s what happens: Before HB 1319 can get anywhere near the Governor’s desk, it goes to the Secretary of State’s office for verification, where it can stay for an indefinite period. It then has to be signed by leaders of both the House and Senate.

This is a slow, formal process—but you can keep the drumbeat of excitement up by sending a thank-you message to the Governor now for his quick commitment to signing HB 1319.

We’ve heard that the Secretary of State has signed off and HB 1319 is with the legislature for signatures, but it’s still just a waiting game.

Keep an eye on your inbox, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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What’s Next for #TransBillNH: Send Your Thanks to Lawmakers & Governor Sununu

May 17, 2018 by admin

Now that HB 1319 is through the Senate, we’re closer than we’ve ever been to ensuring state law explicitly protects transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public places like restaurants and hospitals.

That Senate vote was the biggest political hurdle HB 1319 has faced, and we wouldn’t have cleared it without transgender people bravely sharing—and allies lifting up—their stories.

But it also required our senators to show real political courage. Some weren’t initially with us, but they listened to us with open hearts and minds, and made the right choice: To stand on the side of freedom and fairness.

When our lawmakers stand on the right side of history, it’s important to say thanks. Send a short personal message of thanks to the 14 senators who voted to pass HB 1319. Then, follow it up with a quick message to Governor Sununu, thanking him for his promise to sign HB 1319.

Saying thanks is especially crucial right now, because there’s still one thing that has to happen before HB 1319 becomes law: Governor Chris Sununu has to sign it.

After the vote, he made it clear immediately that he plans to, but that hasn’t stopped our opponents from calling, emailing and tweeting at him daily with the hope that their misinformation will scare him away from signing HB 1319.

Showing our lawmakers that we’ll have their backs when they do the right thing sends a signal to Governor Sununu that he can win our thanks too—by signing HB 1319 as soon as it hits his desk.

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VICTORY: Senate Passes HB 1319; Governor Sununu Vows to Sign It

May 2, 2018 by admin

On Wednesday, May 2nd, the the New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 to pass HB 1319! And moments later, Governor Sununu confirmed: He will sign the bill, making the state the 19th in the nation to provide comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections. 

Credit for this victory goes first to the transgender Granite Staters who bravely opened their lives to neighbors and lawmakers, who shared their stories with the hope of building understanding even as doing so put them at risk of harassment and discrimination.

Today’s victory is also the result of years that our allies in the business, faith, civil rights and public safety communities have spent laying legislative groundwork. And last but not least we recognize the lawmakers who voted for freedom this year, last year, and in years before.  

HB 1319’s long legislative path has included recommendations from three committees—including the House Judiciary this year and HHS in 2017—and an “ought to pass” vote of 195-129 from the House of Representatives on March 7, 2018.   

There is still one more thing we have to do before we can mount a full-scale celebration: Ensure Governor Sununu signs HB 1319 into law.

Earlier this year, Governor Sununu told reporters he was “inclined” to support the bill. And he mentioned protecting transgender people from discrimination as a motivation for creating the new Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

But we saw in the Senate Judiciary Committee how much damage our opponents can do with their lies, and we have to make sure they don’t influence the Governor’s decision.

Help ensure the Governor signs HB 1319 swiftly: Send a quick thank-you to the senators who voted for freedom today—and then send a message to Gov. Sununu urging him to sign HB 1319 ASAP!

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Anti-Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Groups Renew Support for Transgender Non-discrimination Protections Ahead of HB 1319 Vote

April 30, 2018 by admin

A coalition of national, state and local anti-sexual assault and domestic violence organizations, including several in New Hampshire, are standing squarely behind efforts to increase non-discrimination protections for transgender people.

This support comes as HB 1319—which would update New Hampshire law to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination—heads for a Senate vote on Wednesday, May 2nd.

The recently released National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence statement renews its member organizations’ commitment to opposing anti-transgender initiatives and supporting transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections.

The Task Force also called out those who would use false narratives about women’s safety to undermine support for these protections:

“Nondiscrimination laws do not allow men to go into women’s restrooms—period. The claim that allowing transgender people to use the facilities that match the gender they live every day allows men into women’s bathrooms or women into men’s is based either on a flawed understanding of what it means to be transgender or a misrepresentation of the law. …

Those who perpetuate falsehoods about transgender people and nondiscrimination laws are putting transgender people in harm’s way and making no one safer. We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims.”

So far, the statement has more than 300 signatories, including the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (Concord), Turning Points Network (Claremont), YWCA NH (Manchester) and New Beginnings – Without Violence & Abuse (Laconia).

Groups that advocate for ending sexual and domestic violence are speaking up for these non-discrimination protections because they know transgender people—particularly transgender women—are disproportionately targeted for harassment and violence.

According to the US Transgender Survey, 47 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes, while 54 percent have experienced intimate partner violence.

The Task Force ends their statement by noting that “we will only accomplish our goal of ending sexual violence by treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.”

The New Hampshire Senate has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to treating all people with respect this week by passing HB 1319, and ensuring that our Law Against Discrimination explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

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Momentum Builds as Transgender Non-discrimination Bill Heads for a Full Senate Vote

April 27, 2018 by admin

HB 1319 is nearing its final legislative step, a vote on the Senate floor on Wednesday, May 2nd—one day before the Senate’s final voting day of the 2018 legislative session.

Advocates for updating New Hampshire law to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and public places are gathering at the State House outside the Senate chambers for three days of rallies during the final session days, on April 26th, May 2nd and May 3rd. Supporters are hoping this final gathering will be a victory rally.

HB 1319 heads to the Senate with unprecedented bipartisan support, including three Republican Senate co-sponsors: Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Senators John Reagan and Dan Innis.

It’s also drawn support from the from the legislative Children’s Caucus and House the Libertarian Caucus, which officially endorsed HB 1319 during one of two House Judiciary Committee hearings earlier this year.

But as HB 1319 gathers momentum, opposition to it is also becoming more desperate. Opponents are spreading insidious myths and misinformation in an effort to sabotage its broad support, claiming that protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places will somehow embolden “bathroom predators” or otherwise endanger women.

That’s completely false. As representatives from the NH Association of Chiefs of Police and the NH Women’s Foundation have pointed out repeatedly, 18 states and more than 200 cities and towns in the US have similar protections on the books, and have experienced no increase in public safety incidents.

Absolutely nothing in HB 1319 negatively impacts our ability to hold accountable someone who enters a locker room with the intent to harm or harass.

Ultimately, many of these concerns about restrooms and locker rooms boil down to some people’s discomfort at sharing spaces with transgender people. But discomfort is no reason to discriminate. Transgender people—like all of us—simple want to feel safe in the places where we all feel a bit vulnerable.

On March 7th, 2018 the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 1319 by an overwhelming 195-129 majority after a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee. We’re hoping the Senate will follow suit—and that Republican Governor Chris Sununu will follow through on his aforementioned support for HB 1319.

Help ensure HB 1319’s swift passage. Place a quick call to your senator’s office now.

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BREAKING: Senate Committee Recommends HB 1319 for “Interim Study”; Bill Still Heading for Full Senate Vote

April 24, 2018 by admin

Today, HB 1319 advanced to the full Senate, though without an endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Instead, the Committee recommended HB 1319 by a 3-2 vote for “interim study”—essentially a polite way to kill the bill. An interim study committee takes no clear action on a bill, and its recommendations are not required to be acted on. 

The bill still gets a vote on the Senate floor, and momentum is high. That vote could come either this Thursday, or next Wednesday or Thursday (May 2nd or 3rd) during the final days of the Senate session. 

On Monday, April 16, the Committee met for nearly six hours—four hours over the allotted period—to hear testimony from transgender Granite Staters and their friends, family and community allies. This testimony included dozens of stories of discrimination in the workplace and in public places like restaurants and doctor’s offices.  

The Committee said that ensuring transgender people have the same basic protections as everyone else is something that needs further study—but that’s just not true. HB 1319 has unprecedented support, from the business and faith communities, civil rights and public safety organizations, and individual Granite Staters.

As Sen. Hennessey noted during the committee debate:

“I’m really curious about what’s not ready. This is a fundamental right. I’m a child psychologist, and a school psychologist. I feel very strongly that this is not only a way to protect children, teenagers and adults, but that we need to be in step with what is going on in the nation, and denying that this is a reality or questioning that this is a reality is not helpful.”

HB 1319 heads to the Senate floor with an unprecedented amount of support. It has 15 sponsors, including nine Republican House members and three Republican Senators: Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Senators John Reagan and Dan Innis.

During the first House Judiciary hearing on January 31, the House Libertarian Caucus officially endorsed HB 1319, joining the Children’s Caucus, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission.

On March 7th, 2018 the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 1319 with strong bipartisan support, voting 195-129 in favor after a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee. And Republican Governor Chris Sununu has hinted that he supports the bill, as reported in the Union Leader.

This bill has been percolating in the legislature for two years. Two bipartisan committees and the full House of Representatives have advanced it. We don’t need more time to know discrimination is a problem and this is the right solution.

Make sure your senator knows this: Leave a message with their office now.

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Breaking Down the Myths Around HB 1319 As It Heads for A Senate Vote

April 19, 2018 by admin

On Monday, we again saw the amazing persuasive power of transgender people and their family members, friends and community allies sharing their stories. Committee members listened with empathy for nearly 6 hours to dozens of stories of discrimination. And testifiers didn’t get rattled, even while opponents of HB 1319 trotted out some of the most disgusting anti-transgender myths.

The most damaging being one we hear frequently: that granting transgender Granite Staters full legal protections in public places will embolden “bathroom predators.”

This is a tactic we’re well acquainted with. Public support for transgender freedom is gaining ground, so opponents of HB 1319 are turning to falsehoods to scare lawmakers into weakening or killing the bill. As we enter this critical time, when a final Senate vote is imminent, it’s important to address these myths head on.

First, and most importantly, there is no evidence whatsoever that protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places like restaurants, retail shops, hospitals—and yes, restrooms and locker rooms—hurts public safety. We know this because 18 states, Washington D.C. and more than 200 municipalities across the United States have full non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public places and have seen no increase in public safety incidents.

Furthermore, HB 1319 explicitly states that gender identity “shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.” There is absolutely nothing in this bill preventing police from holding accountable someone who goes into a restroom to harass others. It should be obvious that the NH Women’s Foundation would not support a bill that harms women, and the NH Association of Chiefs of Police would not support a bill that would make our public spaces unsafe.

Opponents of HB 1319 also like to say that legally protecting transgender people means a man could just “wake up one day,” claim to be a woman, then access women’s facilities. This is false. Nondiscrimination policies across the country make it clear that gender must be honest and sincere.

Opponents of HB 1319 also like to say that legally protecting transgender people means a man could just “wake up one day,” claim to be a woman, then access women’s facilities. This is false. Nondiscrimination policies across the country make it clear that gender must be honest and sincere. There are proven ways to assess this, and they are actually written into the law.

What these concerns really boil down to is some people’s discomfort with transgender people—but discomfort is no reason to discriminate.

Unfortunately, these myths seem to be having an effect on some senators—so we need to flood their offices with the truth before they vote, which could happen any day.

Tell the Judiciary Committee: HB 1319 must include public accommodations protections. That’s not up for debate.

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Episcopal Priest Speaks Out for Transgender Freedom in Memory of Her Daughter

April 19, 2018 by admin

It was just over a year ago that my 17-year old-came out as a transgender girl.

To the world looking in, my child was a typical guy’s guy — 6 foot 2 inches tall with wide shoulders, a deep baritone voice and a quick wit. But she told us that sometime during junior year of high school, she began to feel depressed and anxious as she became increasingly aware that she was not a boy after all — she was truly a girl.

My husband and I raised our child to be a high honors student, a valued crew team member, a star musician and a leader at a prestigious prep school, where she was elected president of her class all four years and was deeply loved and respected by her peers. She wanted her peers to know that even popular kids have struggles, and also wanted them to know that people they knew and respected could be transgender. So she courageously came out publicly last winter, adopting the name Emelia, which would have been the name we’d given her had she been born a girl.

Coming out as a transgender girl seemed to be a profound moment of liberation for Em, and she began to think about planning her transition. Then suddenly, on Jan. 28 of last year, she took her own life.

“It breaks my heart that our society didn’t feel like a safe place to Em, in large part due to the kind of discrimination she feared she would face.” —Rev. Elsa Worth, St. James Episcopal Church, Keene

Forty percent of all transgender teens either commit or attempt suicide. That’s 40 percent of all of our transgender sons, daughters, siblings, friends and family members. My husband and I did not know that statistic until it was too late. There is enormous stigma in our culture around being transgender no matter how much personal support you have, whether before or after a gender transition — especially for a transgender girl like Em. Even if your friends and family love and accept you, many in society do not, and there is little recourse should you encounter discrimination or hostility in housing, employment or in public spaces.

Right now, under New Hampshire law, there are no measures that explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination. Despite growing public awareness and support for the LGBTQ community, transgender people still face horrific discrimination, harassment and violence in all areas of life.

It breaks my heart that our society didn’t feel like a safe place to Em, in large part due to the kind of discrimination she feared she would face.

I was able to recently testify in support of House Bill 1319, New Hampshire’s transgender nondiscrimination bill, in front of the House Judiciary Committee to honor Em’s memory. I was both shocked and pained to hear opponents talk about transgender people as if they are broken, damaged and a danger to children. I heard people claim that God does not want to see transgender people protected from discrimination. Some opponents even had the audacity to question my faith, and the faith of the other clergy present who were there in support of HB 1319.

I serve as the priest at St. James Episcopal Church in Keene and have been an ordained clergy person for 22 years. I regret that so many hurtful and stigmatizing claims about LGBTQ people have been asserted in the name of religion — and I reject such claims.

“It is because of these promises that I and so many people of faith advocate for legal equality for transgender people. It is because we know that all are created in God’s image — in all our amazing and beautiful diversity — and that includes those who are transgender.”

In our church, we preach that no matter what our faith or creed, we should treat others the way we would want to be treated. Failing to protect others from discrimination goes against this value and it hurts us all. In our Episcopal baptismal covenant, we promise to seek and serve God in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves. We promise to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

It is because of these promises that I and so many people of faith advocate for legal equality for transgender people. It is because we know that all are created in God’s image — in all our amazing and beautiful diversity — and that includes those who are transgender.

My daughter was loved by her family and by God, and we wish we had more time with her to show her that love. So I believe it is now part of my calling to make sure every transgender person knows how truly beloved they are.

“Putting nondiscriminatory measures in place are a basic and important step in offering vulnerable teens like Emelia the hope, confidence and inner peace to keep going despite the significant pressure of bias and stigma they will face.”

I have heard a great deal of fear expressed by the opponents of transgender equality. But love casts out fear, and this bill is grounded in compassion, fairness, equality and love. It assures our transgender citizens that New Hampshire intends to stand by them if they come up against life-damaging discrimination and provides them with more options than turning to desperate measures.

Putting nondiscriminatory measures in place are a basic and important step in offering vulnerable teens like Emelia the hope, confidence and inner peace to keep going despite the significant pressure of bias and stigma they will face. I’m extremely grateful the House of Representatives voted resoundingly to support HB 1319, and I urge the Senate to do the same.

I pray that all those like my daughter Emelia feel our support and the peace of knowing they are valued and upheld as equal and protected members of our communities.

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With Today’s Committee Hearing Over, Attention Turns Now to the Full Senate

April 16, 2018 by admin

For more than 5 hours today, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from transgender people, their families, and allied groups across the state—but did not issue a final decision on whether or not it would recommend the bill for passage.

No matter what the Committee decides, HB 1319 still heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The Senate Judiciary committee hearing was standing room only as business leaders, healthcare experts, faith leaders, women’s safety advocates, and transgender people and their families shared their stories in support of HB 1319, ultimately running more than 3 hours over its allotted 2-hour timespan.

Committee members probed deeply for stories of discrimination—and had the opportunity to hear plenty from testifers:

The committee also focused heavily on safety issues, which is understandable. Safety and privacy are important for all of us. But as legal and public safety experts noted, 18 states and more than 200 localities have passed comprehensive non-discrimination laws that include protections for public spaces—with no uptick in public safety issues.

Granite Staters’ testimony before the committee today was a stark reminder of why we desperately need this law: Discrimination is happening every single day, and currently transgender people have no clear legal recourse in New Hampshire.

As the bill heads to the full Senate, we’re confident our senators will see that updating New Hampshire’s non-discrimination law to explicitly protect transgender people from being treated unfairly at work, in housing and in public places like restaurants and hospitals is simply the right thing to do.

The Senate Judiciary committee could vote on HB 1319 as soon as tomorrow, April 17th during executive session. The full Senate must vote on HB 1319 before May 3rd.

While we’re awaiting a full Senate vote, call your senator and urge them to recommend HB1319 “Ought to Pass.”

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