Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered at Victory Park in Manchester for the Transgender Equality Rally organized by Rights & Democracy’s Transgender Organizing & Leadership Development (TOLD) project.
The rally came only days after the federal government signaled it would further backtrack on its obligation to protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
On July 26th, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce his intention to reinstate the US Military’s ban on transgender service members. The Justice Department also released a legal brief that day opposing several high court decisions that protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from employment discrimination.
Rally attendee and US Navy veteran Rachel Booth, who has previously shared her story as a transgender woman with Freedom New Hampshire, said the tweets had effectively “sent all of our brave transgender soldiers, sailors and airmen back into their closets once again feeling like second-class citizens living in a country that doesn’t want them.”
This news infused Saturday’s rally with a deep feeling of urgency and gave organizers a chance to underscore the need for the state of New Hampshire to take action to advance transgender non-discrimination protections as the federal government ramps up attacks on freedoms of the LGBT community.
Local advocate Gerri Cannon, who helped plan the rally along with other volunteers from Freedom New Hampshire and Rights & Democracy, said having this much energy and optimism around the issue of transgender rights was new for her.
“I’ve never seen this before in New Hampshire. We felt good about being in the space that day, and about our longer-term plan for New Hampshire to invest in the LGBT community.” —Gerri Cannon
“I’ve never seen this before in New Hampshire,” she said. “Overall, it went really well. We felt good about being in the space that day, and about our longer-term plan for New Hampshire to invest in the LGBT community.”
The first step in that plan is for the state legislature to pass #TransBillNH during the 2018 legislative session, for which the first day to file bills is October 12th. Grassroots organizers from Rights & Democracy and Freedom New Hampshire were thick on the the ground at the rally, making sure Granite Staters who care about equality were aware of the important legislative work that needs to be done in the upcoming year.
Rights & Democracy and the rally’s organizing committee are also working together to sketch out a legislative plan for pushing #TransBillNH forward over the next several months.