N.H. Debates Transgender Legal Protections

  • Chloe LaCasse, right, listens during a public hearing on a bill that would bar discrimination based on gender identity, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Concord, N.H. Morris, a stay-at-home father, came out as transgender four years ago. LaCasse, 45, came out as a transgender woman last summer. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne) Kathleen Ronayne

  • Vivian Murphy, left, and Gerri Cannon, second from left, listen during a public hearing on a bill that would bar discrimination based on gender identity, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Concord, N.H. Cannon testified in favor of the bill, recounting her experiences being harassed as restaurants and losing jobs over her gender identity. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne) Kathleen Ronayne

  • Kenzo Morris, right, listens during a public hearing on a bill that would bar discrimination based on gender identity, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Concord, N.H. Morris, a stay-at-home father, came out as transgender four years ago. Morris testified that he was mocked when he went to change the gender identity on his driver's license. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne) Kathleen Ronayne

Associated Press
Published: 2/21/2017 11:54:54 PM
Modified: 2/22/2017 12:05:43 AM

Concord — Kenzo Morris remembers being mocked when he went to change the gender on his driver’s license. Shana Aisenberg recalls losing a job teaching music after she came out as transgender. Gerri Cannon says she’s been harassed in restaurants just for the way she looks.

These are the stories House lawmakers heard on Tuesday as they weighed a bill to prevent discrimination against transgender people. If passed, New Hampshire would join about 20 states that bar discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations such as restaurants. It has bipartisan sponsorship.

“I love this state, but I always am aware that someone may take an issue with who I am and cause me harm and take issue and just berate me,” Cannon told the committee.

The state already bars discrimination based on age, sex, race, creed, color, marital and familial state, national origin, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability. Even though gender identity isn’t included, the state’s Commission for Human Rights has been taking on transgender discrimination cases since 1988, Chairman Paul Phillips said.

Adding gender identity to the law would ensure everyone is protected, he said. Police chiefs, doctors, some religious leaders and the state’s Business and Industry Association also came to support the bill.

But opponents, including residents, conservative activists and a marriage and family therapist, warned against the bill, saying it could have unintended consequences, such as men improperly using women’s restrooms and assaulting people. The same argument has been used to defend so-called “bathroom bills” in places like North Carolina.

“I would be too frightened to use a public bathroom if I knew there could be a man there,” resident Beth Scare said.

David Pickup, a therapist from Texas and representative of the American College of Pediatricians, suggested the bill attempts to “redefine what it means to be human.” His group has warned against “gender ideology.”

But supporters said those fears are misplaced, and noted the bill lays out criteria for how someone can prove their gender identity, including disclosing their medical history or evidence that the gender they identify with is a core and consistent part of their identity.

“These are nothing more than myths,” Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said about bathroom concerns.

Morris, who testified he was harassed by employees at the Division of Motor Vehicles, said he has faced discrimination his entire life because he grew up as the child of an interracial couple.

“Just being yourself shouldn’t give people the right to harass you or treat you poorly,” he said.

He told committee members his parents were denied housing in the 1980s because they were an interracial couple.

“I am shamed, as a lifelong New Hampshire native, to think that over 30 years later this is still being allowed to happen to different groups of people,” he said.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy