After Serving Her Country, Transgender Veteran Finds Herself Unprotected from Discrimination at Home November 2, 2017

Growing up in Alstead, New Hampshire in the 1960s and ’70s, Robyn Robison had never heard the term transgender. Still, from an early age she felt much more comfortable expressing herself as a girl, though she was being raised as a boy.

“I would get so envious of my friends who were girls,” she says. “I didn’t know why, though. I thought I didn’t have any option other than living life as a very rugged guy.”

When Robyn turned 19 in 1981 she joined the Air Force, where she served until 1992. She joined to make her father proud, but also to embody that image of a “rugged guy.”

in 2012 though, Robyn decided she needed to start living as the woman she had always known herself to be. Two years later, when she saw the documentary Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story—a look into the life of the first transgender Navy Seal—she was inspired, and knew she had made the right choice, even though it left her vulnerable to discrimination.

Although New Hampshire actually has a statewide law that protects Granite Staters from being discriminated against in employment, housing and public spaces based on factors like sex, race and sexual orientation, state law does not protect transgender people.

That can change, however, if the legislature passes #TransBillNH, which would update the state’s Law Against Discrimination to include protections for transgender Granite Staters.

“[Non-discrimination] should be the case for all transgender people though. Not just those who can access the Veterans First program.”

Robyn can access some protections. Her apartment can’t discriminate against her because it receives funds as part of the federal Veterans First Program, which includes a contract stipulating that the complex can’t discriminate against any veteran who served honorably and meets income guidelines. But transgender Granite Staters who are not veterans are still unprotected.

“That should be the case for all transgender people though,” she says. “Not just those who can access the Veterans First program.”

However, Robyn has experienced other forms of discrimination. She is on disability after spending most of her post-military life as a stay-at-home caregiver. She’s had a tough time finding a job because of what she suspects to be employment discrimination. And she’s been assaulted several times.

Because of this lack of non-discrimination protections, life in Nashua has not been easy. But from her several moves across the country while in the military, Robyn knows things can be different. She knows there are more accepting environments for transgender women like her.

“It’s time for New Hampshire to change that. The state must send a strong message that the Granite State isn’t a place where discrimination is tolerated.”

In fact, New Hampshire is the only state in New England without a non-discrimination law that’s inclusive of transgender people.

“It’s time for New Hampshire to change that,” she says. “The state must send a strong message that the Granite State isn’t a place where discrimination is tolerated.”

New Hampshire lawmakers can do that by updating the Law Against Discrimination during the 2018 legislative session. If you’re a Granite Stater who believes there is no place for discrimination in New Hampshire, sign on to our pledge of support for #TransBillNH.