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New Hampshire’s Legislative Crossroads: Transgender Rights in Peril

In New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu faces pressure to veto four bills that impact transgender rights. Passed by Republican lawmakers, these bills include prohibitions on gender-affirming care for minors and restrictions on transgender athletes. Advocates, including Linds Jakows and the New Hampshire Youth Movement, argue these measures are discriminatory and harmful. The outcome will significantly influence the state's reputation and the lives of its transgender residents.

In 2018, Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire signed a landmark bill that added gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Many people applauded this action, including Linds Jakows, a transgender rights activist who personally thanked the governor. Sununu’s simple response, “Oh, it’s just the right thing to do,” resonated with many in the LGBTQ+ community. Today, however, the same community is urgently seeking Sununu’s intervention once again, as four controversial bills that could significantly impact transgender rights await his decision.

The Bills at Hand

The bills in question, passed by Republican lawmakers, are:

  1. House Bill 619: Prohibits gender-affirming care for individuals under 18.
  2. House Bill 1205: Prevents transgender girls from competing on public school female sports teams from grades five to 12.
  3. House Bill 1312: Requires public school teachers to provide two weeks’ notice before teaching any material related to sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, and allows parents to opt their child out.
  4. House Bill 396: Rolls back provisions of the 2018 gender identity rights bill, allowing organizations to classify people based on their biological sex for bathrooms, locker rooms, athletic competitions, and more.

Republican supporters argue these bills promote public safety and fairness. However, LGBTQ+ rights advocates, including Jakows, see them as direct attacks on transgender individuals, undermining the progress made in recent years.

Progressive advocates and LGBTQ+ rights groups are mounting a vigorous campaign, urging Sununu to veto these bills. The New Hampshire Youth Movement, for instance, has been relentless in their efforts, flooding the governor’s office with phone calls and emails. Grace Murray, the organization’s political director, emphasized the importance of equality and the potential economic impact of these bills.

“The bottom line is we’re supposed to live in a country where we’re all supposed to be able to live freely, and especially in this state, these bills make that impossible,” Murray said. “Signing these bills could brand New Hampshire as unfriendly to transgender people, which could affect business participation.”

Voices from the Community

Amy Manzelli, a parent of a transgender girl, has also been vocal. She penned a heartfelt letter to Sununu, hand-delivered to his office, highlighting the positive impact sports participation has had on her daughter, Iris. Manzelli warned that HB 1205’s ban on transgender girls in sports would devastate her daughter.

“This issue of really just not understanding what a transgender kid is and modern transgender care and how it results in a person that is no more dangerous than any other girl on the sports team just really needs to get out there,” Manzelli said. “That basic information just needs to get out there.”

Jakows, now a lead organizer for the Granite State Organizing Project, noted that these bills have been a major topic of concern at LGBTQ pride events. The community is apprehensive, awaiting Sununu’s decision with bated breath.

The Governor’s Stance

Sununu’s position on these bills has been mixed. While he has voiced support for HB 1205, framing it as an issue of fairness and safety, he has not publicly commented on HB 619, HB 396, or HB 1312. His previous actions, such as signing the 2018 anti-discrimination bill, provide a glimmer of hope for advocates.

“I am holding on to some hope that Governor Sununu will 100 percent do the right thing,” Manzelli said.

Beyond the moral and ethical arguments, there is also a significant economic angle. Advocates argue that passing these bills could harm New Hampshire’s reputation and economy. As a state known for its small businesses and individual liberties, branding it as unfriendly to transgender people could deter companies and professionals from engaging with the state.

The situation in New Hampshire is part of a broader national trend. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a case concerning a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming care for minors. The court’s decision, expected by June 2025, could have far-reaching implications for states like New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the United States this year, with the majority targeting transgender youth. Advocates for transgender rights at the state level are feeling more pressure than ever thanks to this surge in legislation.

The Bottom Line

As Governor Sununu faces a decision on these four bills, the transgender community, their families, and allies are anxiously waiting. The stakes are high, and the potential consequences are profound. Whether Sununu will stand by his earlier conviction that supporting transgender rights is “the right thing to do” remains to be seen.

For now, the advocacy continues, with a determined focus on ensuring that New Hampshire remains a state where all its residents, regardless of gender identity, can live freely and without discrimination. As the battle for transgender rights intensifies, one thing is clear: the voices of the community are not backing down.

Transvitae Staff
Transvitae Staff
Staff Members of Transvitae here to assist you on your journey, wherever it leads you.


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