Transgender Granite Staters, allies and elected officials met again last week for two more house parties aimed at growing legislative support for #TransBillNH.
The first, hosted by Nancy and Art Brennan of Weare, featured a large group and lively discussion with Reps. David Pierce, Gary Hopper, and Neal Kurk. The other house party, in Claremont, was a smaller gathering of community advocates only, though there were some great stories shared as well as some strategizing on how to get elected officials more involved.
In attendance in Weare were two transgender Granite Staters who shared their stories with the hope of driving lawmakers toward a better understanding of what it’s like to live under the threat of anti-transgender discrimination.
One was JJ Smith, a public health advocate who uses her experiences as a transgender woman to educate members of the medical community about the specific health needs of transgender people. Community outreach was also covered at the Claremont meeting by Toni Maviki, a transgender woman from Danbury who runs cultural competency trainings at medical centers, colleges and churches, as well as for police and civic organizations.
The Weare gathering also featured a recent graduate of John Stark High School, who asked that he not be named because he fears he’ll be discriminated against at work. As a student though, he was out to classmates, and spoke at length about how hard it was to come out at school, and how he faced some harassment and bullying.
Now that he’s graduated and entered the workforce, the stakes are much higher. He could be taunted, bullied and harassed—and then lose his livelihood, since there is no statewide law that explicitly protects him from being fired because of his gender identity.
Parents of transgender and non-binary children were also on hand to discuss the ways in which their children are left vulnerable, and the steps they’re taking to cope in the absence of a statewide, transgender-inclusive non-discrimination law.
One was Cheryl Pyles, whose transgender son Mitchel was denied medical care because of his gender identity. Mitchel was at the doctor’s office for a routine sinus infection, but was turned away because the doctor didn’t want to treat a transgender person. Under #TransBillNH, this kind of refusal would be prohibited. Neil Allen, a transgender man from Charlestown, shared at the Claremont meeting how his non-binary daughter was advocating to make her sorority at Keene State transgender inclusive.
Jessica Smith is another Weare parent who’s concerned about sending her daughter into the local school system. Currently, Weare is not one of the 17 New Hampshire school districts that have district-wide policies that protect transgender students from discrimination. Because of this, Jessica says she’s looking at private schools or possibly moving to Maine or Massachusetts—even though she loves her community, and wouldn’t move if she had a choice.
These house parties have been a great success at building community and moving the dial on legislative support for #TransBillNH. And there are more planned. Sign up here to let us know if you can host or attend a house party in your community.