About This Story Collection
It’s been an exciting month for the fight for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination! On Friday, June 8, Republican Governor of New Hampshire Chris Sununu signed into law comprehensive and explicit protections from discrimination based on gender identity, ensuring that transgender people are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Three years ago Freedom for All Americans Education Fund recognized an opportunity in the Granite State to help coordinate a powerful statewide conversation around the lack of protections for transgender people. Since then the Freedom New Hampshire campaign has centered the voices of transgender people, who shared their stories and provided their neighbors and representatives a chance to get to know who transgender people are, often for the first time.
These are the conversations that improve lives. These are the conversations that helped ensure that no person in New Hampshire faces discrimination because of who they are.
We’re grateful for everyone who spoke out for #TransLawNH in New Hampshire. Meet just a few of them and read their full stories below:
Freedom NH Campaign Manager: 'So Much Cause for Celebration'
Linds Jakows • Manchester, NH
Linds Jakows has served as campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire for more than a year, working hard to push forward in the Granite State. Now, they are thrilled to see the fruits of their labor lead so beautifully to increased protections for transgender people in New Hampshire.
“Ever since I moved to New Hampshire nearly four years ago as a newly out non-binary person, I’ve needed the strong transgender community this campaign worked to create,” they told Freedom for All Americans. “New Hampshire has never felt more like a home to me, and I’m sure this will be the best Pride season I’ve experienced yet, now that we have so much cause for celebration! I can’t wait wait to see transgender leaders in other states take the lessons we’ve learned — especially that these bills can pass in Republican-controlled state legislatures— and pass non-discrimination measures across the country.”
Transgender Man Who Faced Employment Discrimination: 'We Are Welcome Here'
Liam Magan • Keene, NH
Throughout the campaign, Liam spoke frequently about his experience facing employment discrimination and harassment.
After being harassed daily at work because he is transgender, to the point where he had to quit his job, he was shocked that New Hampshire law didn’t explicitly protect him from this discrimination. Watch the video below where he shares his story.
Now, with HB 1319 taking effect in July, he feels a lot more secure in the Granite State. He said this week to Freedom for All Americans, “This is a big step for the transgender community. It makes the statement that we are welcome here and we are free to live, work, and experience New Hampshire, like everyone else.”
Business Community: 'Discrimination is Bad for Business'
Nancy Huntington Stager • Eastern Bank
The victory in New Hampshire would also not have been possible without allies in the business community. Nancy Huntington Stager serves as EVP of Human Resources & Charitable Giving for Eastern Bank, and throughout the campaign she spoke out to declare why Eastern Bank feels so strongly supportive of full LGBTQ protections.
“Discrimination isn’t just wrong—it’s bad for business, too,” Nancy said following passage of #TransLawNH. “That’s why I have been proud to speak out on behalf of Eastern in support of HB 1319 over the entire course of this campaign. We are thrilled to see it signed into law, joining the rest of the New England states with comprehensive LGBTQ protections. Protecting people from discrimination, including people who are Transgender, allows our employees and our customers to safely arrive at our establishment without the fear of discrimination. When communities are welcoming places for everyone to live, work and raise families, businesses succeed.”
Watch Nancy’s testimony in support of #TransBillNH here:
— Freedom NH (@FreedomNH_) January 31, 2018
Mother of Transgender Daughter: 'Compassion for Our Common Dignity'
Rev. Elsa Worth • Keene, NH
Throughout the campaign Rev. Elsa Worth spoke powerfully and movingly about her daughter Em, who came out as a transgender girl and took her own life in early 2017. Elsa shared Em’s story in memory of her daughter, explaining, “It breaks my heart that our society didn’t feel like a safe place to Em, in large part due to the kind of discrimination she feared she would face.”
As a person of faith and a faith leader, Elsa’s voice permeated many communities, as she referenced her church as a model for how New Hampshire can include and welcome everyone, with all people treating each other the way they want to be treated.
“People of all faiths are called to uphold and respect the dignity of every human being,” Elsa said to Freedom for All Americans. “The passage of HB 1319 is a sign of our NH legislators’ compassion for our common dignity as well as their deep respect for the American ideal of equality. I am profoundly grateful for their support on behalf of my daughter, Emelia, for whom such legislation would have made a difference. HB 1319 will bring new peace of mind and a tangible measure of safety to vulnerable NH transgender teens and adults, who like us all, are born to live fully and freely as beautiful children of God.”
Watch a video Elsa filmed in memory of her daughter for Transgender Day of Visibility, and click here to read her story with Freedom NH:
Transgender Man and His Family: 'We're So Relieved'
Kenzo Morris • Gilmanton, NH
Jennifer and Kenzo Morris, who live in Gilmanton with their daughters, have been active contributors to the Freedom New Hampshire campaign. Kenzo, a transgender man, has faced discrimination in a number of ways in the state, including being denied service at the DMV and facing harassment from neighbors.
The passage of HB1319 marks an important step forward for the state, and the family is proud to have contributed.
“My wife and twin daughters and I have felt the sting of anti-transgender discrimination, and it really took a toll on our emotional well-being and feeling of belonging here in New Hampshire,” Kenzo told Freedom for All Americans. “Now that we’ve come together and secured comprehensive protections from discrimination based on gender identity, we’re so relieved – and hopeful that other families like ours won’t have to endure the pain and humiliation of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are.”
Read Kenzo and Jennifer’s full story from Freedom NH, and watch video from Kenzo delivering testimony on HB1319 below:
Transgender Community Leader: 'We Can Publicly Be Proud of Who We Are'
Gerri Cannon • Somersworth, NH
Gerri’s story resonated throughout the campaign, too. Her story of being fired because she is transgender helped many lawmakers and Granite Staters understand the importance of nondiscrimination.
“Ten years ago, soon after losing my job, I was contacted by Representative Ed Butler to help pass a Transgender nondiscrimination bill in the NH Legislature,” she told Freedom for All Americans. “That effort was defeated in 2009, and so were my hopes for passing a similar bill in the future. In the fall of 2016 my hopes were renewed as we made plans to fight for another nondiscrimination bill. During the 2017 Legislative session my hopes were yet again trashed, as the bill wasn’t even heard by the NH House. The effort to educate more of our Representatives and Senators started shortly after that. I was extremely proud of the team of people leading us and the large number of community members that got engaged in this process!”
“Despite the odds, we submitted House Bill 1319 to our Republican-led Legislature and we witnessed the passage in the NH House and the Senate! Even the Governor signed it,” she continued. “My life has changed drastically over the past ten years. My dreams and self esteem has grown! Passage of this bill means that our NH Transgender and Gender Variant Residents won’t have to face the discrimination that I felt in the past. It means that we can publicly be proud of who we are, without fear!”
Read her full story, and watch this video of Gerri delivering testimony about HB1319:
NH Police Dispatcher: 'I Finally Stand on Equal Footing'
Jess MacFadzen • Penacook, NH
Jess MacFadzen’s inspiring story of overcoming adversity at work and ultimately being embraced by her coworkers – the command staff of New Hampshire State Police – helped underline for Granite Staters what is possible when people open their minds and hearts.
“After so many years of convincing myself that the world was gonna end if people ever knew, having the support of those people makes all the difference in the world for somebody going through that transition,” she told Freedom New Hampshire.
Now that HB1319 is law, she expressed her excitement. “As a life long resident of NH and someone who has spent their career serving the residents and visitors to NH I am proud that Freedom NH was successful this year in passing HB1319 with the help of supporters in both the House and the Senate and ultimately Governor Sununu signing our bill and stating unequivocally that discrimination has no place in the lives of the citizens of the state,” she said. “Also, for the first time in my 33 years of serving the citizens of NH, first in the military and now in the State Police, I finally stand on equal footing with all other residents of the state and am free to work, live, and enjoy everything NH has to offer without fear of discrimination. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make my dream, and the dream of so many, a reality.”