Governor bans discrimination against transgender government workers

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    Governor Maggie Hassan speaks at the "Monitor" editorial board. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 6/30/2016 6:27:40 PM

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan signed an executive order Thursday that forbids discrimination against transgender people in state government. It comes on the heels of a historic decision by the Pentagon to let transgender people serve openly in the military.

“Throughout our history, it has been clear time and again that we always grow stronger when we work to ensure the full inclusion of all citizens in our democracy, our economy and our communities,” Hassan said in a statement.

New Hampshire law already bars employers from discriminating against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, age, marital status and other areas. Hassan’s order adds to that, saying that state agencies cannot discriminate against anyone’s gender identity or gender expression. The policy covers state government employment, administration of state programs, and all executive branch contracts and grants.

The state Division of Personnel will oversee implementation of the order by Sept. 15.

Christen Bustani of Transgender New Hampshire said she is “elated.”

“It’s a long time coming,” she said. “I am extremely excited to see New Hampshire becoming a progressive state that respects all individuals.”

At least 18 states and the District of Columbia already have policies in place that prohibit discrimination against transgender people, including Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Transgender people do face discrimination in New Hampshire, said Bustani, also co-chairwoman of PFLAG New Hampshire.

During the 2015 fiscal year, there was one transgender discrimination allegation filed at the federal level and none at the state level, according to the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights.

But Bustani said the statistics aren’t totally representative. Many transgender people may not file because they think they can’t win their case, they may not have the money or they are fired for other hidden reasons.

The order, she said, will “help to add necessary protections to ensure that the current and future contributions of this portion of our diverse community are fully preserved.”

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