On January 4, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed two bills attacking LGBTQ rights — one that would permit discrimination against trangender people in public spaces and one that would ban gender-affirming procedures for trans youth.
HB 396 would weaken the guarantee of equal protection under the law for LGBTQ people by permitting the state and educational institutions to discriminate against trans people in athletic competitions, state custody or “places of intimate privacy,” while HB 619 would ban transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming procedures.
“Today’s failure by the N.H. House to protect LGBTQ+ rights is a shameful beginning to 2024 in a state that has historically made overwhelmingly clear that it supports and respects LGBTQ+ identities,” Linds Jakows, co-founder of 603 Equality, said in a statement. “Trans kids and their families need to make private healthcare decisions that are best for them, and they shouldn’t be discriminated against and segregated in schools, carceral settings, or other spaces.”
Democratic Rep. Gerri Cannon, one of the state’s first openly transgender legislators, condemned the bill.
“It’s not right for New Hampshire. It’s not right for the transgender community,” Cannon said. “And I hope that our young people don’t take this message badly, because I’m concerned about the health of many young transgender people.”
Twelve Democrats joined Republicans in voting in favor of the gender-affirming care ban and four Democrats voted in favor of the bill permitting discrimination against trans people in school bathrooms, sports and prisons. A handful of Democrats abstained from voting on the bills or were absent.
“Enough other dems either did not vote, were absent, or voted yes on the bathroom/sports ban to allow it to pass,” transgender activist and journalist Erin Reed said on social media.
New Hampshire state Rep. Maria Perez (I), who had followed and previously messaged Reed about anti-trans bills on social media, allegedly blocked Reed on X when asked about her votes. Perez abstained from voting on HB 396 and voted yes on HB 619. Perez allegedly had a rainbow flag on her X profile, but has since removed it.
“Democrats willing to sell out trans kids in their district to gain popularity points with their Republican friends will likely be primaried in coming months,” Reed said on social media.
The bills now head to the Republican-controlled Senate, where they are likely to pass and head to the governor’s desk.
“By passing legislation attacking access to medical care for transgender youth and to roll back critical, established non-discrimination protections to exclude transgender people from public accommodations and school sports among other restrictions, legislators abandoned New Hampshire’s values of fairness and freedom for fear-mongering and discrimination,” Chris Erchull, attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), said in a statement. “The Senate must vote down these mean-spirited attempts to divide our communities and needlessly single out transgender people for unfair treatment.”
New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu (R) has not yet commented on the House passage of the anti-trans bills. However, in May he joined other Republican governors in opposing the Biden administration’s proposals to bar schools across the country from blocking transgender students from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
“We will continue to fight to ensure the rights of LBGTQ+ people are not violated by these dangerous, discriminatory bills as they make their way through the legislative process,” Jakows said in a statement. “When today’s anti-transgender bills get to Governor Sununu’s desk, he should promptly veto them, because ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ as he said when he signed New Hampshire’s transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law in 2018.”