New Hampshire again considers transgender protection legislation

  • Supporters of a gender identity nondiscrimination bill rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Supporters of a gender identity nondiscrimination bill rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Katharine Daly of Dunbarton holds a sign that reads “Discrimination is not a NH value” during a rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord ahead of a public hearing on a gender identity nondiscrimination bill on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Daly, now retired, is a former Executive Director of the NH Human Rights Commission. “It’s time to do this,”€ she said. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Emily Fishbaugh (right), a transgender teenager from North Hampton, and her mother, Linda, share the microphone during a rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord ahead of a public hearing on a gender identity nondiscrimination bill on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Emily Fishbaugh (right), a transgender teenager from North Hampton, speaks during a rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord ahead of a public hearing on a gender identity nondiscrimination bill on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Emily Fishbaugh, a transgender teenager from North Hampton, holds a sign that reads “trans rights are human rights” during a rally in front of the Legislative Office Building in Concord ahead of a public hearing on a gender identity nondiscrimination bill on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Associated Press
Published: 1/31/2018 1:40:57 PM

Emily Fishbaugh of North Hampton said she was miserable as a young child before she transitioned in fourth grade. Her school has been supportive, she said, including allowing her to use the girls’ bathroom.

“I’m just like any other girl,” she said. “I’m just living my life and I’m happy.”

Like other transgender teenagers and their parents, Fishbaugh urged New Hampshire lawmakers Wednesday to expand the state’s anti-discrimination law, while opponents again focused on the fear of predatory men molesting women and children in public restrooms.

The bill before the House Judiciary Committee would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on someone’s gender identity, in addition to the protections that already exist based on sex, religion and sexual orientation. Lawmakers tabled a virtually identical bill last year, leaving New Hampshire as the only New England state without such protections.

At a rally ahead of Wednesday’s public hearing, Fishbaugh’s mother, Linda, said she grew up conservative and Catholic, and had no “guidebook” for raising a transgender child. But she said it simply came down to love.

“As we started to learn more, and she started to speak more, and we just listened more, then together as a family we were stronger,” she said.

Opponent Mark Warren of Gilmanton told lawmakers that, while he favors equal rights for all, he worries about his three children.

“I don’t live in fear, but I do want to allow my kids to have the same equal freedom and rights to know that when they’re on sports teams, when they’re in the locker rooms, that they know who it is they’re around,” he said.

Beth Scaer of Nashua said she doesn’t fear transgender men, but rather men who would pretend to be transgender to gain access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

The bill’s supporters argued that anyone who goes into a restroom to harass or assault others would be arrested and held accountable.

“It’s an anti-discrimination bill. It’s not an ‘I’m going to let you go into bathrooms and molest someone bill,’ ” said Dover police Chief Anthony Colarusso, speaking on behalf of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Butler, D-Hart’s Location, called it an important step toward “safety, security and acceptance” for transgender people.

The Rev. Elsa Worth of St. James Episcopal Church in Keene agreed. Her 18-year-old daughter, Emelia, killed herself a year ago, shortly after coming out as transgender.

“There is enormous stigma in our culture to being transgender, especially being a transgender girl like Em, no matter how much personal support you have,” she said. “Even if your friends, school and family love and accept you, it is so often deeply apparent that society does not, and that there will be little recourse for you should you come up against discrimination or hostility in housing, or employment or in public spaces.”




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