Transgender People in NH Should Be Treated Like Everyone Else, Lawmakers Say
CONCORD — Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are hoping New Hampshire House Bill 1319 passes the House and Senate in 2018.
Supporters gathered in Concord on this snowy Wednesday afternoon to announce the filing of the bill.
Linds Jakows, the campaign manager of the non-partisan coalition Freedom New Hampshire says by passing this “common sense” legislation we will enable the transgender community to live their lives fully. HB 1319 would “assure transgender people would be protected from discrimination in employment, access to housing and public spaces like restaurants, shops and government buildings,” Jakows said.
Prime sponsor, Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, says it’s time we join all the other states that have made it illegal to discriminate against transgender men and women.
“We’ve updated our state laws over the decades to ensure people don’t face discrimination simply because of their gender, age, race or their sexual orientation," he said. "Now I call upon my colleagues to join me to do the same for our transgender neighbors."
Sarah Mattson Dustin, the director of Policy for the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, dispelled any misnomers about transgender rights and the threat to women in public bathrooms.
“Nothing in House Bill 1319 would change the fact that it is already illegal to threaten or assault a women in a public bathroom," Dustin said. "In the 18 states and 200 municipalities that have already pivoted discrimination against transgender people there has been no uptick in harassment or violence in public bathrooms. Anyone who is concerned about safety should be concerned about the fact that one in two transgender people will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.”
Jess MacFadzen, a transgender veteran and state police dispatcher spoke about her experience with knowing she was transgender, but out of fear, not having the courage to come out. MacFadzen said she she finally came out when she was in her mid-40s to her wife.
“She supported me 100 percent,” MacFadzen recalled. “And after awhile, I found the courage to go to work and announce my intention to transition.”
MacFadzen said she also received full support from the New Hampshire State Police.
Gerri Cannon, a transgender Somersworth School Board member and advocate for this bill says she knows all too well what it’s like to be discriminated against.
Recently while dining at a restaurant, Cannon said, “I sat down and someone in the next table moved away as if I had some disease.”
Cannon says HB 1319 is a good start but acknowledges it won’t completely eliminate transgender discrimination. She remains hopeful however acknowledging the many transgender children who now feel secure enough to come out.
The first hearings on the bill will be heard Jan. 31 in the Legislative Office Building in Concord.