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New Hampshire introduces bill to protect trans people

Jessica Geen March 23, 2009
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The US state of New Hampshire is introducing a bill to protect trans people from discrimination.

The bill means the words “gender identity” or “gender expression” will be added to current laws protecting from discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, creed, colour, sexual orientation or religion.

State representative Ed Butler, who is gay, filed the bill, claiming it is a “natural step”.

He told “I’m a gay man and I have been involved [in efforts] to achieve equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered for many years. This seemed a natural step on that road.”

The bill is expected to go before the full House for debate and a vote this week.

As in Gainesville, Florida, last week, opponents are focusing on the issue of public toilets.

They say it may increase sexual attacks on women and girls, claiming that it will open the way for predators and stalkers to use women’s facilities.

Amherst Republican representative Bob Rowe voted against the measure, arguing that ‘gender identity’ had not been strongly enough defined.

“Any man could walk into any female changing room, any bathroom,” he said.

However, Butler argued there has not been a single instance of such an incident.

He said: “In these 13 states [which prohibit discrimination against trans people], there has never once been a reported instance where a transgender person has been a sexual predator in a bathroom or not in the bathroom. It’s a red herring. It’s something to generate people’s fears.”

He added that the main purpose of the bill is to ensure that transgendered people are not discriminated against in housing and employment.

Voting began last Monday on whether to repeal a Gainesville, Florida, ordinance that gives protection to LGBT citizens.

If passed on the March 24 election, the Charter Amendment 1 will make the ordinance conform to the Florida Civil Rights Act, cancelling the anti-discrimination protections Gainesville extends to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

Opponents say they have one reason to seek the amendment – a clause which allows trans men and women to use whichever public toilets they feel most comfortable with.

Related topics: Americas, Employment

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