Mitchel Pyles has lived in New Hampshire for more than 25 years. Mitchel is proud to call the Granite State home—even though, as a transgender person, Mitchel cannot access many of the non-discrimination protections afforded to fellow citizens.
Mitchel hopes that will change someday soon: Just this year, a bipartisan group of New Hampshire lawmakers took major steps to advance legislation that would add gender identity to the statewide law against discrimination.
Now, Mitchel is speaking out to both lawmakers and more widely on social media with the goal of making transgender people and the challenges they face more visible. That kind of visibility, Mitchel says, is what spurs change.
In a video posted to Facebook as part of the #EveryoneWelcome campaign, Mitchel describes what it was like growing up without transgender role models—another public blind spot Mitchel hopes to remedy by being more vocal. Mitchel wants to say to all people that are transgender: “You have value and are important members of our communities. Being transgender has made my life more rich and given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.”
WATCH Mitchel’s full video:
#EveryoneWelcome is a public education campaign dedicated to sharing the stories of transgender Americans and the people who support them in an effort to shore up broad and urgent support for transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections. Nearly 100 people all across the country have filmed videos as part of the campaign, including members of Congress, LGBT advocates, celebrities, and athletes. The campaign is a partnership between several organizations, including the Ally Coalition, Athlete Ally, Freedom for All Americans, GLAAD, the Transgender People of Color Coalition, the Trans Latin@ Coalition, and Trans United Fund. Learn more here.
Earlier this year, Mitchel illustrated how vital these non-discrimination protections are, and highlighted why more education is so sorely needed. In a hearing concerning the transgender protections bill in New Hampshire, Mitchel shared a story of being at the doctor’s office for a routine sinus infection but being turned away because the doctor 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 when while attempting to change drivers license information.
Updating statewide non-discrimination laws to include protections based on gender identity would make what happened to Mitchel—and what happens to countless other transgender people on a daily basis—illegal. Though an update to the law was narrowly defeated this year, Freedom New Hampshire—the diverse nonpartisan coalition working to pass #TransBillNH to ensure transgender Granite Staters are protected from discrimination under state law—is already ramping up a broad-reaching storytelling campaign aimed at building support among lawmakers and the general public for a renewed push to pass the bill next year.
Raising awareness of the discrimination that transgender people face through personal storytelling is an important tool that advocates in New Hampshire and around the country are using to make the case for statewide non-discrimination protections, as well as expand general public understanding about transgender people.