Portsmouth, New Hampshire is perhaps going to be the ignition point for transgender rights in New Hampshire. The state is the only New England state which has not passed protections for transgender people.
New Hampshire is one of four states which has protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation, but not on the basis of gender identity or expression. The others are New York, Wisconsin and Maryland. I reported on efforts to change that status in Maryland in January.
I want to make sure the ‘City of the Open Door’ has a welcome mat for all residents and visitors. There’s nothing more important than the way we treat one another.
Portsmouth Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine
Splaine and transgender advocates spoke Wednesday to the editorial board of the Seacoast Media Group.
Splaine is an openly gay man who fought in the state Legislature for marriage equality for a long time. He says he has constructed a proposed resolution which would enact a Portsmouth Nondiscrimination Policy which will include coverage on the basis of gender identity. He plans to submit it to the City Council on March 3. Besides protecting transgender municipal employees, the resolution will encourage statewide protections for transgender people.
We should not discriminate just because somebody is gay or straight or transgender. It should be a policy in our city government and we should encourage the state to adopt something similar.
The state legislature considered such protections in 2009 but it was de-emphasized so that marriage equality could be addressed.
Splaine said, “It has not been revisited since.” Although he has approached several lawmakers about revisiting the issue, he says he has failed to gain support.
Splaine was joined at the meeting by Janson Wu of Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and Julian Long who is a member of the steering committee for Transgender New Hampshire.
This is a tremendous opportunity to educate the general public about what it means to be transgender.
I’m a transgender Granite Stater and I’ve met lots of people who unfortunately face discrimination both in New Hampshire and other states as well.
Long said he had just completed a job search and was often concerned about whether he would be discriminated against by his prospective employer.
It’s my feeling that discrimination exists wherever discrimination is not actively opposed. It could happen because we don’t have an active policy (ensuring) that it can’t happen.
Although nearly 200 municipalities around the country have passed policies to protect transgender people from discrimination, Portsmouth would become the first locality in New Hampshire with such protections.
Close to 200 municipalities have adopted anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals. These types of protections are really in the mainstream of anti-discrimination protections for people.
It’s time the Granite State joined the progressive side.
New Hampshire lags behind the rest of New England in protecting its transgender residents, not just in employment discrimination, but also in public accommodations.