Right now, under New Hampshire state law, there are no explicit protections prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations like restaurants, doctors offices, and government buildings. Now more than ever, it is urgent that New Hampshire lawmakers take steps to affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters and ensure their fair and equal protection under the law.
According to a 2016 study by the Williams Institute, there are around 1.4 million transgender adults living in the United States. This is double the number in 2011. In New Hampshire, there are thousands of transgender people living and working in our communities.
But despite growing public awareness of and support for transgender people, this group still faces disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence in all areas of life.
Findings from a 2011 study by NCTE and the Task Force show that 63% of transgender participants had experienced a “serious act of discrimination”—events like a lost job, eviction, homelessness, and assault that drastically impede one’s ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally.
Transgender respondents were twice as likely to experience unemployment. Nine out of ten (90%) respondents had experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. And one in five (19%) reported having been denied housing because of their gender identity.
These heightened rates of discrimination and harm are also linked to high rates of negative health outcomes and emotional trauma for transgender people. According to the study, “a staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population.”
When lives hang in the balance, the time for transgender non-discrimination protections is now.
Though state law does not ensure equal treatment of transgender people, in recent years ten cities and towns across New Hampshire have passed local non-discrimination laws, resolutions or other measures in support of transgender protections.
It can be confusing to navigate a patchwork of legal protections from town to town. But these local laws are testament to growing support for transgender non-discrimination—and are an important step to ensuring transgender people are protected locally while making the case for passing statewide non-discrimination laws.
Hardly. Currently 18 states, Washington D.C. and more than 200 municipalities have full non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public places. Across New Hampshire, 10 cities and towns have affirmed the importance of municipal and state-level protections for transgender workers and residents.
Businesses large and small, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, as well as conference and major sporting events organizers have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality. They know that if New Hampshire is going to compete in the U.S. and global markets, it must invest in its reputation as an open and welcoming place to do business.
As support for transgender non-discrimination grows, we are working with businesses, faith communities, law enforcement officials, and local municipalities, to advance legislation (HB 478) to ensure fair and equal protections for transgender people under the law.
Ultimately, we can all agree that in New Hampshire, freedom means freedom for all—regardless of gender identity. And that’s why it’s time to pass HB 478 to update our state’s Law Against Discrimination to ensure explicit protections on the basis of “gender identity.”