NH Lawmakers Hear From Transgender Granite Staters, Community Leaders During Lunch In Support Of HB 478 February 2, 2017

State lawmakers took a working lunch today with transgender Granite Staters and their family members, as well as business leaders, law enforcement officers and others concerned with updating New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws.

A bipartisan group of 100+ lawmakers gathered today to hear directly from transgender people about the discrimination they face every day. Lawmakers also heard why they should support HB 478, a bill introduced last month that would update New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination to ensure that no one can be fired, evicted, or denied service just because of their gender identity.

One of today’s featured speakers was Gerri Cannon, a Somersworth resident and a transgender woman who lost her job after she came out to her employer. Last year, Gerri told her story to Freedom New Hampshire, and noted that had the law included protections for transgender people at that time, this couldn’t have happened:

“The frustration was that there was no way to fight it. In my situation, I couldn’t rely on the law. From a business standpoint, nothing was clear as relates to a transgender person. There were no guidelines on what does the company do if you try to transition. There was nothing I could call on.”

Also among today’s speakers was Dover Police Department Chief Anthony Colarusso, a 31-year-veteran of local law enforcement. Colarusso has long been a proponent of updating the law because he says it’s needed to keep New Hampshire’s communities safe:

“[Transgender people are] actually disproportionately targeted for harassment and assault. However, in places where legal protections are in place, rates of violence against transgender individuals go down with no uptick in public safety incidents. Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”

Other speakers included Alex Myers, a Phillips Exeter Academy English teacher who spoke about coming out as transgender when he was a student there in the 1990s; Tom and Sarah Huckman of Ossipee, who spoke about their transgender daughter, Sarah; Amanda Grady Sexton, of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Dave Juvet, of the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association and Janson Wu, the executive director of GLAD.

Today’s strong turnout is a positive sign, but HB 478 can’t move through the legislature until the House, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee schedules a hearing on the bill. They are expected to do so in the next few weeks, but will want to see a strong majority of their constituents support HB 478 before they take action.

Click here to send a message to committee members urging them to support transgender non-discrimination protections.