Veterans—And All Transgender Granite Staters—Deserve Explicit Protection Against Discrimination November 9, 2017

Transgender Granite Staters have served our country and our communities with distinction.

Yet they remain at risk of being discriminated against in those same communities because New Hampshire has no statewide law explicitly prohibiting anti-transgender discrimination in housing, employment and public spaces like restaurants and doctor’s offices.

If the legislature passes #TransBillNH in 2018, that can change—and these brave transgender Granite Staters are working to make that happen.

***

Dusty Fiero | Nashua

After growing up on her grandfather’s war stories, Dusty Fiero enlisted in the Marines in 1993. And when she was discharged after suffering a severe hand injury, she continued to serve by joining the local police force.

“I grew up with the idea that enlisting and serving your country was part of being a citizen,” she says.

Then, one day she was picking up a pizza in Nashua and saw a transgender person being made fun of by customers. Out of fear she said nothing at the time, but knew she needed to take this as a sign and start living as the woman she always knew herself to be.

“I grew up with the idea that enlisting and serving your country was part of being a citizen.”

Now, Dusty is comfortably living openly—but she still fears discrimination, a fact lawmakers could change by passing #TransBillNH next year.

***

Robyn Robison | Nashua

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”—even though she knew that’s not who she was.

After seeing the documentary Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story—a look into the life of the first transgender Navy Seal—Robyn knew she had made the right choice in transitioning, even though it left her vulnerable to discrimination.

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

Luckily, she hasn’t faced housing discrimination because she is a veteran. But, she says, that’s not the case for so many transgender Granite Staters.

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

***

Rachael Booth | Landaff

After high school, Rachael joined the Navy in hopes of finding herself and seeing a world beyond rural Ohio.

And see the world she did, serving her country as a foreign language interpreter and communications technician for 9 years. It was the big change from her childhood she’s always dreamed of.

Then, one day she found the courage to make another change, one she’d been dreaming of for 40 years.

A complete stranger in her place of work said, “I will put my job on the line before I will let this company discriminate against you in any way.”

She told her employer she’d be transitioning. And to her surprise, a complete stranger in her place of work said, “I will put my job on the line before I will let this company discriminate against you in any way.”

But not all transgender Granite Staters are this lucky, and without supportive employers and coworkers, can be discriminated against just because of who they are.

***

Matt Aversa | Keene

From 1979 to 1982 Matt served in United States Air Force, first in the air force reserve and then in the air national guard.

When he completed his MSW in 1999 and got a job at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, he was elated to be serving his fellow veterans again.

But when he went through his gender transition, he faced discrimination at work. A supervisor even outed him to the entire workplace, forcing him to leave a job that he loved.

“It being a military culture, I didn’t know if anyone would be OK with that.”

Luckily, Matt found his niche treating LGBT patients at the Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health and addiction treatment center in Vermont.

“It being a military culture, I didn’t know if anyone would be OK with that.”

It’s clear that too many transgender Granite Staters face discrimination. This situation is especially cruel to veterans who have been willing to risk their safety to preserve our values—values like freedom and fairness.

Let’s ensure that no transgender Granite Stater has to live in fear of this kind of discrimination: Pledge to support #TransBillNH in 2018.