To Wrap up Transgender Awareness Week, Two Transgender Granite Staters Share Their Stories November 17, 2017

From November 13 through 17 of this year, individuals and organizations around the country will commemorate Transgender Awareness Week, in advance of the annual Trans Day of Remembrance on Monday, November 20.

This week serves to elevate the voices of transgender people and raise visibility nationwide. In New Hampshire, it is more important than ever to hear the stories of our transgender friends, family, and neighbors as we work to pass #TransBillNH, which will ensure comprehensive non-discrimination protections for transgender people across the Granite State.

In our campaign to pass this law, we know there’s nothing more important thank putting the voices of transgender people—and the friends, family and neighbors who support them—front-and-center.

What follows are two stories from transgender Granite Staters who are using Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance to share their stories. They’re also thanking transgender advocates who have come before them. Visit our Voices page to read more stories. 

Jess MacFadzen

A 27-year veteran of the NH State Police, Jess MacFadzen works as a dispatcher, making sure that emergency services are available to people in need, and they are cared for efficiently. Today, Jess lives openly as a transgender woman, but her journey has been a difficult one, with many stops along the way.

Jess first began to understand what it means to be transgender at the age of 16, but it wasn’t until the age of 45 that she started leaving the house as a woman, gaining more confidence as time went on. However, she knew all along that if something were to happen to her, there were no explicit laws in place protecting her from discrimination in public accommodations.

Jess’ worst experiences, unfortunately, came at her place of employment. She was working with the NH police when she began living as a woman, but at work she continued to present as a man. After about a year, a co-worker started spreading rumors about Jess, which led to cruel jokes and derogatory comments. Jess felt extremely disrespected and dreaded going to work. At one point, she even considered suicide.

“I really think one of the most important things we can do to advocate for ourselves and for the young people coming up behind us is to be out and visible, living our lives, not only showing them that we can be healthy and happy but that it does get better.”

However, one day, two co-workers pulled her aside and asked, “how can we help?” this made Jess realize that she was cared about as a person, and she began her transition at work to live openly as the woman she’s always known herself to be.

Jess is keenly aware of the fact the there are currently no protections in the law for transgender people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. She has vowed to fight to pass #TransBillNH, to secure dignity and equality for all.

“I really think one of the most important things we can do to advocate for ourselves and for the young people coming up behind us is to be out and visible, living our lives, not only showing them that we can be healthy and happy but that it does get better.”

Brooke Matthews

Brooke Matthews owns a Christmas tree farm, Freedom Firs. While helping her customers get in the holiday spirit, Brooke is also aware of the opportunities that come her way to be a teacher to people about what being transgender means.

“If people ask, I will engage in conversation and answer questions,” she says. “I enjoy educating the public when opportunities present themselves, and my experiences have been positive.”

Brooke says she has only ever had one occasion where she was made to feel uncomfortable because she is transgender, but she says there was a silver lining as well. She was at a gas station where a man began harassing her; however, the person working the counter told the gentleman he had to leave the premises, which made Brooke feel valued and welcomed.

“I have great respect for all the transgender men and women who came before me. I’m not sure I would have had the conviction I have to be me if it wasn’t for their examples.”

“It was nice having someone see me for who I am and show their support in such a way,” she says.

For Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance, she’s keeping in mind the history of how transgender people have worked to fight against discrimination. It inspires her, she says, to fight by being visible in the community.

“I have great respect for all the transgender men and women who came before me. I’m not sure I would have had the conviction I have to be me if it wasn’t for their examples.”

If you’re a transgender Granite Stater or ally who also wants to raise your voice in support of #TransBillNH, share your story with us.