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The Transgender Rights Movement’s NH Victory and What It Means for the Country

By Lorelei Erisis, Oct. 26, 2018
The Transgender Rights Movement’s NH Victory and What It Means for the Country

The Transgender Rights Movement’s NH Victory and What It Means for the Country

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Right now the transgender community and our allies in Massachusetts are deeply entrenched in a ballot fight to preserve our rights. It can be easy for many of us to feel like the transgender rights movement is constantly under attack, but it’s important to keep our hope alive and focus on the positives.

Earlier this year, our neighbors in New Hampshire showed the nation that the dream of transgender rights shouldn’t be considered a goal achievable only in left-leaning blue states. When Republican Governor Chris Sununu signed into law “NH house bill 1319,” (HB 1319), they showed that full legal protections for transgender people are simply human rights.

After all, the New Hampshire state motto of, “Live Free or Die” can also easily sum up the essence of the reason why many transgender people I know, including myself, choose to transition in the first place. For me, the choice, if I could even truly call it that, was to live life fully as the woman I knew myself to be; or continue to hide and follow a path of increasingly desperate and self-destructive choices.

I chose to live free. But I, and many others like me, made that choice in a world that did not necessarily seem to support that life-saving choice.

But all of that is changing, and it’s changing as the result of many years of hard work by people, both transgender and cisgender (people who are not transgender), who have built a powerful transgender rights movement. A movement that, despite what our opponents might want you to think, is finding support on both sides of the political aisle.

With folks in Massachusetts focused on the Yes On 3 campaign to preserve our own transgender legal protections, I was interested in how our allies in New Hampshire achieved such a spectacular success. Masen Davis, the CEO of Freedom for All Americans, leads one of the organizations that led the fight to pass New Hampshire’s transgender anti-discrimination law.

“HB 1319 is a historic civil rights legislation that protects transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces like restaurants, shops, and government buildings,” said Davis. “It provided a simple update to the state’s law against discrimination, adding gender identity to the existing list of protected classes such as race, age, disability, sexual orientation, and others.”

But what does this mean for the rest of the country, how did the transgender rights movement’s historic victory in New Hampshire set an example for the rest of the country?

Davis’ response was encouraging. “Our victory in New Hampshire is notable because Republicans control every major lever of power in the state. The bill (HB 1319) is the first proactive win on LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in any state in the country since 2016. It passed the GOP-controlled House and Senate by wide bipartisan margins this year and it’s the first state with a fully GOP-controlled government (both chambers and GOP governor) to pass a bill like this. New Hampshire is now the final state—and the 19th state across the U.S.—to have a comprehensive and explicit law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation.”

Davis went on to make the point that, similarly, though a much more Democratically controlled state, the law that the Massachusetts Yes On 3 campaign is fighting to preserve was passed by a bipartisan supermajority of legislators, and signed by a Republican governor, Charlie Baker.

“We hope that New Hampshire demonstrates to other Republican-dominated legislatures that equality is not a partisan issue,” Davis said. “Fairness is something all Americans can support.”

If we stand together, and we keep fighting, I believe we can achieve full protections for all transgender people across the country.

Find out about the successful protections passed into law in New Hampshire and the Yes On 3 fight to preserve those same protections in Massachusetts.

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