Stories of Discrimination Underscore the Need for HB 1319’s Swift Passage April 11, 2018

With the Senate Judiciary Committee poised to hear HB 1319 any day now, it’s important to keep the focus on the bottom line: Right now, transgender Granite Staters have no explicit legal recourse if they’re discriminated against at work, while trying to find a place to live, or in a public place like a restaurant, retail shop or hospital.

This discrimination isn’t theoretical. It’s happening to transgender people across the Granite State every day. In fact, 1 in 3 transgender people experience discrimination, according to national surveys. These are their stories:

Mitchel Pyles | Milford

Mitchel Pyles has lived in New Hampshire for more than 25 years and is proud to call the Granite State home—even though they’re not afforded the same non-discrimination protections as fellow residents.

That was made painfully clear when Mitchel went to the doctor for a routine sinus infection. The doctor turned Mitchel away because she didn’t feel comfortable treating a transgender person. Mitchel has also been discriminated against by state agencies, at one point being denied a court filing and turned away from the DMV while attempting to change drivers license information.

“I, like everyone else, want to know that I can receive medical treatment when I need it. … We all want to be treated with dignity and respect just as every other member of my community.”

“I, like everyone else, want to know that I can receive medical treatment when I need it. … We all want to be treated with dignity and respect just as every other member of my community,” Mitchel said in a video posted for last year’s Transgender Day of Visibility.

Mitchel is hoping 2018 will be the year lawmakers show they agree, by passing HB 1319.

Gerri Cannon | Somersworth

Gerri was let go during a company-wide downsizing, but given her stellar performance record she suspects she was terminated because she is transgender.

“I was in a customer-facing position. That’s what got me in trouble,” she said. “As I was transitioning, they didn’t want me in front of customers anymore.”

Gerri had worked there since the 1970s, but only had trouble after a business trip, when a colleague saw her out in public dressed in female clothes and complained to the company.

She got written up for being inappropriately dressed for business—even though there was no company dress code policy. Then she was put on probation for a year, though management indicated she could resume full-time work once she transitioned fully.

“The frustration was that there was no way to fight it. In my situation, I couldn’t rely on the law. … There was nothing I could call on.”

But when she did that, and notified the company, they fired her. Gerri couldn’t fight the termination because she needed the severance package to stay afloat financially—and there was no clear discrimination case, since New Hampshire law does not explicitly protect transgender people from employment discrimination.

“The frustration was that there was no way to fight it. In my situation, I couldn’t rely on the law. … There was nothing I could call on.” But if HB 1319 passes this year, there will be.

Kenzo Morris | Gilmanton

Shortly after Kenzo transitioned, he went to the Concord Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver’s license. He left humiliated, and without an updated ID.

The DMV worker raised her voice, laughed and pointed at Kenzo for being transgender. She denied him a driver’s license that accurately reflected his gender because he did not have all the surgeries required by the New Hampshire DMV.

“I was extremely ashamed and humiliated,” Kenzo said, but he didn’t give up. He took his fight directly to the DMV, and he won. The New Hampshire DMV changed their policies and now allow transgender people to obtain a new license reflecting their gender identity with no surgical requirement whatsoever.

“No one should have to go through this type of discrimination. We just want to live our lives peacefully like everyone else.”

But not everyone has the resources to fight back when they’re discriminated against. Transgender people, like all other Granite Staters, should be able to walk into a public place with the expectation they’ll be treated fairly and respectfully.

With HB 1319 on the books, they will.

Liam Magan | Keene

When Liam started his transition to living as a transgender man, he received support from his assistant manager at the Five Guys burger joint where he worked. Unfortunately, that support would not extend to higher up the management chain.

“I was harassed almost daily,” Liam explained. “Many of my coworkers respected my identity—by calling me by my name, Liam, and addressing me as he, him and his—but senior management did not.”

He asked management not to be scheduled with coworkers who harassed him about being transgender, but instead they began to only schedule him with those coworkers. It felt like he was being intentionally targeted, he said.

“I was harassed almost daily. Many of my coworkers respected my identity—by calling me by my name, Liam, and addressing me as he, him and his—but senior management did not.”

Things came to a breaking point when the district manager threatened to out him in retaliation for minor slip-ups at work. Liam found another job—but he shouldn’t have had to do that. No one should be harassed at work because they are transgender. Passing HB 1319 will say clearly that the law agrees.

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Not every transgender Granite Stater has a story of discrimination. But as long as New Hampshire’s non-discrimination law does not explicitly protect transgender people, all live daily under the threat of discrimination—and their stories reflect the toll that takes on their ability to simply live their lives.

Passing HB 1319 will ensure that transgender Granite Staters can finally live free from that threat. If you agree these protections are long overdue, sign the pledge of support for HB 1319 and join our campaign to update the law.