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By ELODIE REED
A new coalition launched Wednesday with a goal of securing equal rights for New Hampshire’s transgender residents.
Freedom New Hampshire is working with partners in local law enforcement, business, education, the American Civil Liberties Union, PFLAG-NH and Transgender New Hampshire to build grassroots support for equal and fair treatment of transgender people.
“It is born out of many years of hard work of organizations on the ground,” said JeanMarie Gossard, the coalition’s public education campaign manager Thursday. She said the coalition’s steering committee is made up of many transgender leaders in New Hampshire.
Those leaders are profiled on Freedom New Hampshire’s new website. One of the leaders is Dr. Jennifer Madden of Amherst, a transgender woman profiled by the Monitor in a recent five-day series called “Living Transgender.”
In Freedom New Hampshire’s first blog installment posted Sept. 7, the coalition pointed out that transgender Granite Staters are becoming more visible, even as no statewide laws provide them specific protection from discrimination.
New Hampshire is the only New England state without such a law banning discrimination based on gender identity.
“Our primary work is spreading awareness about lack of statewide protection,” Gossard said.
With thousands of the country’s 1.4 million people identifying as transgender living in New Hampshire, Freedom New Hampshire is pushing against other, grim statistics: 1 in 4 transgender people in the U.S. are fired from their jobs because of their identity, 78 percent of the country’s transgender students report being harrassed, and 41 percent of the American transgender population report attempting suicide.
In its beginning stages, Freedom New Hampshire is asking anyone to sign a pledge for “equality for all.” The website is also calling for volunteers from the business community and faith leaders.
Gossard added, “A big part of our work is collecting the stories of transgender folks and sharing those.”
To learn more, visit freedomnewhampshire.org.