Bill would protect rights of transgender people

On Feb. 9, the New Hampshire House tabled a bill that would have protected rights of a vulnerable group of citizens. HB478 would have given transgender individuals protections that a majority of citizens already possess, but the bill was tabled due in part to Keith Ammon, James Belanger, John Carr and John Lewicke, who are the representatives of Hollis/Brookline that voted to table this crucial bill. I implore you to write, call or visit your representatives and tell them that you think this was a poor decision and that transgender rights are human rights, and that protecting those with no protections against discrimination and oppression is the right and moral thing to do.

If you are already an ally to the transgender community, please communicate to those who apathetic or hostile to the rights of transgender people and help them to understand why protections are so important for transgender people. If you are not already an ally, please take the time to educate yourself in what this bill really means for so many of us suffering discrimination. A 2016 study reported that one-third of transgender individuals who went to the doctors in the past year faced discrimination due to their gender identity. This included being refused treatment, verbal harassment, physical and sexual assault, or having to educate their doctor on the appropriate care they should receive because they were not educated on the subject. More than 77 percent of transgender kids in grades K-12 reported mistreatment because of their gender identity to include harassment and physical and sexual assault.

Twenty-seven percent of transgender people who held a job during that year reported being fired, denied promotion or not being hired due to their gender identity or expression, and 15 percent said that they were verbally or physically attacked and/or sexually assaulted at their place of work because of their gender identity. One-third of respondents experienced homelessness and nearly one quarter reported that they had experienced housing discrimination in just the past year.

These statistics are the reason why HB478 was so important and why having protections for a vulnerable minority population is necessary. These are not “extra” protections, as these are protections that many others already have that are not being extended to those in the transgender community. This is not an issue that is just about bathrooms, as some politicians and the media would have you believe. We have laws in place against sexual assault and harassment that extend to bathrooms and transgender women are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. The media and politicians never address transgender men, who if forced to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth would be forced to use the women’s restroom while appearing fully male. Some transgender men have had hormone replacement therapy and very much look like the gender they identify as. The opposition claim that they don’t want men in the women’s bathroom, but that is exactly what would happen and there would be no way to know if the person using the women’s room was transgender or cisgender. How would this be enforced?

Please educate yourselves, your friends and family so that next time there is an opportunity to support transgender rights, we can all do the right thing and show our politicians that the moral and, literally, lifesaving thing to do is to support anti-discrimination.

Hartley Day