New Hampshire

NH to Decide on Transgender Rights Bill

A historic vote to protect transgender rights in New Hampshire could happen Wednesday night.

House Bill 1319 would protect transgender people from discrimination at work, housing and public places.

"We need freedom to be ourselves," said Gerri Cannon from Somersworth, the first openly transgender woman to be elected to a city school board in New Hampshire.

On Wednesday, supporters of the transgender community converged on the State House to rally for transgender rights.

"It's like being left handed," said Cannon. "Why are people left handed? They can't explain it."

Cannon has been fighting for the gender identity bill for almost a decade. She said she's experienced discrimination due to how she identifies.

"I was a customer-facing person when I was laid off," Cannon said. "I have to believe that was part of the decision they let me go, because they weren't quite sure how customers were going to react to me."

Reactions that Gerri said this bill help to address.

"When you go to a restaurant, or if you're going bowling, it's that somebody's not going to ask you to leave, because you're upsetting the person next to them," Cannon said.

One of the biggest concerns for some lawmakers is privacy in public places, but the trans community feels those fears are unfounded.

"A lot of daughters want privacy rights in the bathroom or locker room," Republican Senator Bill Gannon said. "They don't want to disrobe next to boys."

"Safety and privacy are important to all of us, including transgender people," said Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom of New Hampshire.

"It's the boogie man," Cannon said. "We're all afraid of the boogieman, as we were younger, but the boogie man doesn't exist."

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