- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - In a story Feb. 21 about a bill creating protections for transgender people, The Associated Press reported erroneously the source of comments at a public hearing. Beth Scaer was reading the testimony of a friend she identified only as Mary, not her own testimony. The Associated Press also misspelled Scaer’s last name. It is spelled Scaer, not Scare.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Bill adds gender identity to anti-discrimination protections

Transgender men and women, police chiefs, doctors and business leaders are backing a bill that would bar discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment and public accommodations

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE

Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Kenzo Morris remembers being mocked when he went to change the gender on his driver’s license. Shana Aisenberg recalls losing a job teaching music after she came out as transgender. Gerri Cannon says she’s been harassed in restaurants just for the way she looks.

These are the stories House lawmakers heard Tuesday as they weighed a bill to prevent discrimination against transgender people. If passed, New Hampshire would join about 20 states that bar discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations such as restaurants. It has bipartisan sponsorship.

“I love this state, but I always am aware that someone may take an issue with who I am and cause me harm and take issue and just berate me,” Cannon told the committee.

The state already bars discrimination based on age, sex, race, creed, color, marital and familial state, national origin, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability. Even though gender identity isn’t included, the state’s Commission for Human Rights has been taking on transgender discrimination cases since 1988, chairman Paul Phillips said.

Adding gender identity to the law would ensure everyone is protected, he said. Police chiefs, doctors, some religious leaders and the state’s Business and Industry Association also came to support the bill.

But opponents, including residents, conservative activists and a marriage and family therapist, warned against the bill, saying it could have unintended consequences, such as men improperly using women’s restrooms and assaulting people. The same argument has been used to defend so-called “bathroom bills” in places like North Carolina. Beth Scaer, a resident of Nashua, read testimony from a friend she identified only as “Mary” who felt the bill would put women’s safety at risk.

“I would be too frightened to use a public bathroom if I knew there could be a man there,” Scaer read from the testimony.

David Pickup, a therapist from Texas and representative of the American College of Pediatricians, suggested the bill attempts to “redefine what it means to be human.” His group has warned against “gender ideology.”

But supporters said those fears are misplaced, and noted the bill lays out criteria for how someone can prove their gender identity, including disclosing their medical history or evidence that the gender they identify with is a core and consistent part of their identity.

“These are nothing more than myths,” Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said about bathroom concerns.

Morris, who testified he was harassed by employees at the Division of Motor Vehicles, said he has faced discrimination his entire life because he grew up as the child of an interracial couple.

“Just being yourself shouldn’t give people the right to harass you or treat you poorly,” he said.

He told committee members his parents were denied housing in the 1980s because they were an interracial couple.

“I am shamed, as a lifelong New Hampshire native, to think that over 30 years later this is still being allowed to happen to different groups of people,” he said.


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