The Soapbox: Do Better, Chris Sununu 

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O P I N I O N

THE SOAPBOX

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.


At a recent Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce event on March 11, Chris Sununu responded to a question from an audience member asking how New Hampshire can provide a safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community. He replied that we’re doing well on LGBTQ+ inclusion and followed up by saying, “I tend not to focus on that stuff. Government isn’t here to solve it.” He later commented that he isn’t for discrimination.  Maybe he should act like it. 

The Republican politicians who have spent the last year filing and voting for over 30 targeted anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the statehouse seem to disagree. Tell that to the parents who are scared for their children’s lives after seeing trans people being bullied, attacked, and murdered across the country just for existing, tell that to the trans people who have to live in fear every day knowing that their fundamental rights are being ripped away by politicians who don’t even know a single transgender person. 

I attended a candlelight vigil in Concord recently for Nex Benedict, a non-binary teen who died after a fight with their classmates in Oklahoma this February. Their story is sadly not an outlier. During the open mic section, dozens of people came forward to share their stories and feelings about what had happened. I heard parents talk about how their child was too afraid to attend the vigil in case their face was shown and their classmates found out. I heard from teenagers the same age as Nex talk about how seeing Nex’s picture reminded them of their friends, of themselves. The vigil took place around the arch in front of the statehouse building, and we all felt scared that our rights were being taken across the lawn from where we stood. 

I don’t even have a long enough word count in this piece to go over every anti-trans bill that’s been filed in the statehouse this year. Just to name a few, HB396 which rolls back non-discrimination protections for trans people, HB619 which bans certain gender-affirming care for minors, CACR17 which forces teachers to ‘out’ students to their parents, and so many more. Just this past week the house passed a bill that would needlessly ban trans girls from participating in school sports singling out young trans girls who just want to participate with their classmates like everyone else.  These bills directly affect me, and yet there are so many of them with hearings almost every week that I have to plan which days I can afford to take off of my full-time job to drive all the way to Concord to testify. Trying to explain why discrimination is bad to a room full of politicians that wrote those same discriminatory bills is infuriating. Screenshot 2024 03 14 083242


 

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And yet, our governor seems to think that LGBTQ+ people are doing just fine in New Hampshire. He’s either being willfully ignorant or just lying. He himself signed non-discrimination protections for transgender people into law back in 2018, but now that trans people have become a main Republican weapon, he seems more willing to throw us under the bus by rolling back those protections one by one. His inaction and complacency is doing real harm to the people of this state.

His heir apparent for governor, Kelly Ayotte, has been ramping up so-called ‘culture war’ rhetoric by claiming that gender ideology is taking over classrooms. Ayotte also recently endorsed Donald Trump, and I don’t need to tell you what that says about her views on LGBTQ+ rights. He also endorsed and campaigned for Nikki Haley, who on national television during one of the Republican presidential debates called the existence of trans women “the women’s issue of our time” among many other horrific comments. For someone who doesn’t pay much attention to LGBTQ+ issues, he sure seems to support those who love using trans people as a pitching wedge. 

New Hampshire ranks last among all New England states for LGBTQ+ equality. The Washington Post recently found that in states with laws targeting LGBTQ issues, school hate crimes quadrupled. Hate, so it seems, trickles down to children. These kids have no idea why they hate gay or trans people. All they know is that the adults are talking about us with disgust, that the government is trying to regulate us out of existence. And so they follow suit. 

Some of these anti-trans bills, despite fierce public opposition, have already passed the statehouse and are making their way to the Senate. Given its current makeup, it’s very likely that they will pass the Senate as well, but we can’t stop fighting against this hate. We have to call on our senators and our governor to not let hate find a safe haven in New Hampshire, for all of our sakes. During his last term as governor, I hope that he might choose to do the right thing here and veto any anti-trans bills that pass the statehouse. It truly is the least he could do.


IMG 20200818 164718395 HDR 1 1 1 scaled e1707535010160Alice Wade is an aerospace engineer from Dover who is the treasurer of 603 Equality, a statewide NH advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights.

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