Important things are going on, so I have a threefer for you, today:
A. How to help with HB478
B. A copy of my open letter to Representative Jess Edwards, in case anyone needs talking points.
C. A bit of humor, because humor makes life better, and we could all use a little mercy, now.
HB 478 is scheduled to go before the NH House for a vote tomorrow (Wednesday). Right now, there is a movement to table it, and not vote on it. This is because the e-mails they are receiving are running 4-to-1 against. I spoke with one of my reps, Lee Oxenham, yesterday, and she said that she’s seeing a lot of repeat names in the e-mails, which means that some busy beavers are sending as many as they can. Apparently this is having the effect of clogging some representatives’ mailboxes and creating the impression of a tide of opinion against the bill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: According to Lee and other legislators we have spoken with, right now the most important thing is to be seen on the Statehouse steps, Wednesday, at 08:30, with clear signs. Wear green, which is the color of the effort to pass this bill. I will be going down with Sparrow in order to stand up for trans rights. Our signs will read:
“PROTECT TRANS CHILDREN FROM DESPAIR AND SUICIDE”
“TRANS KIDS ARE WATCHING TO SEE IF YOU HATE THEM”
“IT’S NOT ABOUT BATHROOMS”
and on the reverse:
“AND IT WAS NEVER ABOUT WATER FOUNTAINS”
So, e-mail, call, do whatever you can, but IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, please: show up in person.
Show up on Wednesday, 03-08, at 08:30.
Address: 107 N Main St, Concord, NH 03303
If possible, have a sign.
So, Rep. Jess Edwards gave an interview to New Hampshire Public Radio. This is my reply, which I e-mailed to him directly, at Jess.Edwards@leg.state.nh.us.
Good morning, Rep. Edwards.
I just read an interview which you gave, in which you said that although you voted to move HB478 out of committee, you would now be voting to table it in the full House. If you were quoted correctly, then you said that there was “just no evidence” of discrimination against Granite Staters who are trans.
Of course, there IS evidence; you heard it at the committee hearings. Testimonial evidence. I know you did, because I was there, too, and you seemed attentive and asked questions several times.
You say that only one case has gone before the courts. But of course most trans people don’t have access to the money and knowledge which it takes to drive an uncertain case through the court system. And, of course, many times de facto discrimination cannot be proven in court, which doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Often, you can see in the pattern what you cannot prove in individual cases, which is why survey data can be so useful. Trans people are unemployed at a far greater rate than the general population, despite being generally more educated, and despite serving in our nation’s armed forces at twice the rate of the general population. Most trans people who experience discrimination don’t have the footing to challenge it, and simply have to look elsewhere for equal treatment.
You said that you didn’t think there would be a business impact. But you heard testimony from a biomedical researcher, Dr. Elena Long, who is trans, and who testified at the hearing that she was in the process of deciding where to locate her business, and that whether or not NH had trans protections was going to be one of the most important factors in her decision.
When I transitioned at my place of work, my employer, the City of Lebanon, had to hire a lawyer to do the legal research to determine that my employment was protected, (and even after spending thousands of dollars on that, and after training personnel, there were problems). This law would make such costs unnecessary, by clarifying the legal landscape for everyone involved. That would mean a savings for business and government in the Granite State.
In the interview, you also said that our NH constitution already protected trans people. I just looked up what it says: “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights – among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.”
Sadly, we know from our nation’s history that sometimes a constitutional assurance is not enough. Our Federal Constitution was amended in 1869 to prohibit the denial of the right to vote on the basis of race. By 1969, it was clear to everyone that the amended Constitution was not sufficient.
In this case, our NH constitution does not mention gender identity. So, each time there is a dispute, someone has to make the case, all over again, that discrimination on gender identity is discrimination due to sex, and therefore protected. This law would clarify the legal landscape for all parties.
I urge you to vote in favor of this bill. It hurts no one, and it helps to protect a beleaguered minority.
Thank you for hearing me out.
Grace Alden, police officer (ret.)
Finally, because we could all use a bit of humor, some pointed commentary from a white, cis, straight woman who uses bathrooms for their intended purposes, on what would make her feel safe: