New Year brings new anti-trans laws to Concord

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NH State House. File Photo/Carol Robidoux

Submitted Bills

Soon after the New Year came around in 2024, Republican lawmakers in the New Hampshire state government submitted a series of bills aimed at fundamentally ending all legal recognition of any kind for transgender individuals. Bills submitted this year echo those submitted last year, which were part of a nationwide effort to deny transgender people access to medical care, use of public restrooms, and disallowing playing on sports teams that conform with their gender identity, among others.

While at times that effort has slowed down, it has not stopped. On January 4, the legislature passed HB 619, a bill which aims to ban gender-affirming surgery for minors. As of this writing, no provider in NH is providing such a service to minors. Both Darmouth-Hitchock and Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts have set an age limit of 18 for when people can undergo such procedures.

HB 396 a holdover bill from January 2023 which is making its way through the legislature once more starting on January 5. This bill seeks to classify “male and female sexes” based on biological gender, a term which isn’t particularly well-defined. A transgender person who has received surgery or surgeries of their choice may be recognized, or they may not. Rather than seeking to codify a standard of what male and female is and is not, the bill directly takes aim at transgender individuals indentifying with a different gender than they were assigned at birth.

Also submitted are:

  • HB 1011 (https://legiscan.com/NH/text/HB1011/2024): a prohibition on male genital mutilation with the exception of circumcision with parental consent. A bill, in part, aimed towards perceived surgeries of transgender minors.
  • HB 1356 (https://legiscan.com/NH/drafts/HB1356/2024): a prohibition on using preferred names and/or pronouns for individuals at school. This bill defines a person’s sex as being that which is stated on their birth certificate.
  • HB 1312 (https://legiscan.com/NH/drafts/HB1312/2024): requires parental notification of any course material which discusses “sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression.” Prohibits school districts from adopting policies preventing school employees from notifying parents about their child’s well being.
  • HB 1205 (https://legiscan.com/NH/drafts/HB1205/2024): A ban on transgender female minors participating in women’s sports. The bill defines gender as being that which is identified on a person’s birth certificate.
  • HB 1256 (https://legiscan.com/NH/text/HB1256/2024): an establishment of penalties and liabilities for publication and distribution of pornographic material to minors at school libraries. This bill establishes an age verification method for access to certain materials.
  • HB 1308 (https://legiscan.com/NH/drafts/HB1308/2024): allows parents access to a their child’s library records, this bill could be used as a method for parents to prohibit reading of certain books, such as The Color Purple. No mention is made for parents sharing the data online or elsewhere once obtained.
  • HB 1374 (https://legiscan.com/NH/drafts/HB1473/2024): a ban on social-emotional learning in schools. Social-emotional learning is aimed at inculcating empathy for others and management of one’s emotions (https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/). This bill would prevent each school district deciding for itself whether such a program is appropriate for its classrooms or not.

Meanwhile, bills securing rights for people who detransition, such as HB 1664 have been introduced. This bill in particular would allow people who suffered “medical injury” as a result of gender transition to seek damages in court- something that was already called medical malpractice.

Importantly, while many other bills deliberately want to discriminate against transgender people, HB 1664 seeks to provide protections against people who have detransitioned on the basis of gender identity. The House bill is mirrored by SB 304 , which has the exact same text.

The message between these sets of bills could not be more clear: follow a path of gender transition and lose all rights or detransition to gain protection under the law.

A National Effort Continues

Republican lawmakers have taken aim at transgender individuals during their legislative sessions. Montana state representative Zooey Zephyr, who is transgender, was punished by her Republican colleagues for saying that a ban on gender-affirming care would leave “blood on their hands.”

Zephyr’s comment derived from a phone call she had with a family of a transgender person who attempted suicide while watching a hearing on an anti-trans bill in the state government.

On January 17, Missouri heard nine anti-trans bills in one day, one of which was Missouri HB 1674, sponsored by a single Republican named Mark Matthiesen. The bill would bring transgender bathroom bans into the workplace as well as public locker rooms. 

Utah HB 257 would prevent transgender people from accessing federal funding designed to help those who were victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It also would require genital exams for those found in violation of a bathroom ban. A transgender person accessing a public restroom conforming with their gender identity would be charged with criminal trespass and voyeurism even if the person has an amended birth certificate.

Idaho brought back a previously vetoed bill , HB 384. which bans LGBTQ+ material from libraries. The bill was passed in the state house on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15th.

Florida brought forth a bill that would require insurers to cover anti-trans conversion therapy  HB 1639. In May 2023, the Human Rights Commission issued an LGBTQ+ travel warning to Florida  for its hostile stance against the LGBTQ+ community.

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Shana Aisenberg/Instagram

Community Impact

Last December, a long-time resident of Wolfeboro, NH, named Shana Aisenberg attended an event at the Wolfeboro Public Library in which a person who had detransitioned came to speak. According to Aisenberg, the individual had come at the behest of Cornerstone, a non-profit advocacy group which she says effectively functions as an anti-trans hate group. For her, the question was not whether doctors were doing harm to people by introducing transgender care, it was whether societal barriers were doing harm to transgender people by denying access to such care.

Shana, a transgender individual, had gone through a detransition in the 1993 when, as a freelance musician in northern Virginia, found her opportunities closed off. People who had been willing to work with her previously no longer did so. She could not find sufficient medical care for her needs, either. Living authentically as herself came with too high a cost, one that could not be endured.

“I did lose work at that time,” Aisenberg said. “At that time, there was a requirement of about a year to two years of what they called ‘living in the role.’ A person assigned male at birth, as I was, would live publicly for a year to two years before one could get approved for hormone therapy. At a year plus, the therapist I was working with at the time approved me to go ahead with HRT. It was clear this was the right medical approach for me.”

At that time, Aisenberg had to get a referral for an endocrinologist. Primary care doctors would not prescribe hormones as they may do now. The endocrinologist would not accept her as a patient because the appointment was related to transgender medical care.

“I was not able to access the care I wanted,” Aisenberg said. “Between that and the discrimination, I detransitioned. I did not say, ‘oh, I’m not trans.’ It was more that to continue working in my profession it just seemed that I needed to present as male and use the name I was assigned at birth.”

Eighteen years passed before she felt comfortable enough to pursue HRT once again. This time, she encountered an environment less hostile to her situation. She has since been living full-time as a woman with all of her identification documents changed to reflect her identity.

In 2012, when she found herself able to receive medical care, “it just felt right.” She envisioned herself as a woman, and when she was able to live and function as one, she began feeling much more comfortable with herself. 

“The outward looks more like how I feel inside,” Aisenberg said.

Linds Jakows of 603 Equality spent a great deal of time last year working to help defeat various anti-LGBTQ+ bills that appeared. Some have returned once more.

“We pulled off defeating the parental rights bill by a very slim margin of five votes last May,” Jakows said. “We saved kids from being forcibly outed and potentially kicked out of their homes because of it, or receiving other kinds of abuse.”

Jakows cited the involvement of other organizations as being crucial to the efforts of defeating certain proposed legislation. The ACLU of New Hampshire and Waypoint, a shelter for young people, worked hard in this regard as well.

“Waypoint spoke to the fact that 25% of people in their shelter are LGBTQ+,” Jakows said. “Unfortunately, that still does happen. There’s definitely a national effort by anti-trans groups to pivot to attacking trans young people and healthcare specifically because I think that’s an area where your average non-trans person doesn’t necessarily know a lot about.”

Jakows went on, “I think it’s just part of the national anti-trans movement. We’ve seen in the last couple of years that there have been hundreds of bills introduced all across the country. New Hampshire is not an exception. They are designed to attack, demonize, spread fear and misinformation against trans people.”

They view a national anti-trans effort as a method to divide people so that communities don’t ask why their schools aren’t sufficiently funded, why workers are making poverty wages, why people haven’t come together to solve big economic and social problems because “we’re pointing the finger” at trans people.

Gerri Cannon courtesy photo
Gerri Cannon loves living in Somersworth and is also an activist for transgender rights and a Somersworth school board member who was one of seven transgender candidates across the country and she won her race in November. Her facebook page says, “I’m a Confident Transgender Advocate, using my voice to help others.” Photo/Deb Cram

Gerri Cannon, a Democrat state representative from Strafford District, has encountered difficulties in her position since she last gave an interview with me on this subject. Cannon is a transgender senior citizen who is a semi-retired carpenter and long-haul truck driver. She is a person of faith who regularly attends her local Universal Unitarian Church.

“It feels like all over the country, and even here in New Hampshire,” Cannon said. “We’re under attack. It doesn’t feel good. For me, I live my life full-time as a transgender person. I’m warm and kind and outgoing to everyone in my community. Then I walk in to try and defend my community of transgender people in the state. The people I’ve met and the people I’ve helped are dear to my heart. I see the pain they’re going through.”

Cannon has been working on a legislative effort to make things equal for transgender people, which would mean being a resident of the state with all the same rights as anyone else. One part of her experience has been that she didn’t ask or request to be transgender, she simply was. Much of her work centers around supporting and helping others for who they are.

Legislation that creates difficulty for transgender individuals also has an adverse effect on the families of those individuals.

“Parents are seeing that in their kids at a very early age,” Cannon said. “As the kids get into their teenage years, they are looking for ways to take care of their kids, especially as kids are questioning themselves as to why they are the way they are.”

Medical care for transgender has improved over the last forty years during Cannon’s lifetime, which in turn has helped people with mental health concerns and concerns over body dysmorphia. The goal for transgender care for minors, which most often involves puberty blockers, is to help them become healthy adults. 

Even while legislation seeks to prevent treatments and therapies, much of it is based on misinformation. Common myths include: surgeries being performed on five-year-olds, doctors prescribing trans care to have repeat customers, transgender individuals altering the chemical composition of their bodies to follow a trend, schools deliberately inculcating their students to transition as part of a conversion process. All of it is fundamentally based on the premise that the existence of a transgender person is unacceptable.

“The help they are getting is not directing them to be who they are,” Cannon said.

In addition, procedures such as breast augmentation or rhinoplasty for minors who are not trans does not require the same types of therapist approval and bureaucratic processes that would occur if the same procedure were applied for a transgender minor. Alteration of the penis through circumcision, when performed on a male infant, is seen as being permissible while gender-affirming surgery for a male-to-female transgender minor is not.

“Any trans person I’ve ever talked to has said there’s too many hoops to jump through when you’re trying to access medical care and medical transition,” Jakows said. “Of the transgender people I know, a few of them have decided for one reason or another to detransition. It’s not because they realized they’re not trans, it’s because they are having a hard time being socially accepted or experiencing workplace discrimination or don’t have access to health care.”

“I’m not happy at all about any of this,” Aisenberg said, referring to the current state of the legislature. “Basically, the New Hampshire state house seems to be taking whatever other states are doing on a national level and trying to pass them here as well.”

“The transgender kids have been singled out,” Cannon said. “Some people say it’s not discrimination, but in my book it’s discrimination.”


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Winter and Chase 1Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester.

About this Author

Winter Trabex

Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester and regular contributor to Community Voices.