Trans Rights Advocates Turn Out in Force To Fight Bills in Senate Judiciary

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Signs left from previous rally at the State House Jan. 3.


CONCORD – The transgender rights community came out in force on a snowy Tuesday to push back on Republican bills that single them out, including the definition of sexual identity and creating a legal action against doctors who perform gender transitional care.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard powerful testimony from those who have transitioned and parents of those who are transitioning and the impacts of potential bills on them and their loved ones while supporters of the bill said the action is needed to protect others and their rights.

Alice Wade of Dover asked each member of the committee to answer which bathroom she should use  to illustrate how unenforceable is Senate Bill 562, realtive to the definition of biological sex. 

She asked why, when the state is facing a housing crisis and other pressing issues, they were there, again “debating my rights?”

Despite snowy weather, Wade came “but, I shouldn’t have to.”

Michelle Cilley Foisy of Temple, who said her teen is beginning transitioning for gender dysphoria, who spoke of witnessing their isolation and troubles after an attempted suicide said it has been an anguishing experience having to come to Concord to protect their rights.

She said it is very hard to listen to made-up stories that gender dysphoria is being pushed by doctors who want to make money.

“Patients should be able to receive the care they request,” she said in opposing Senate Bill 304, creating a cause of action for medical injury for those who perform transitioning surgery before someone transitions back to their birth sex.

She said as a mother she would oppose such bills that attempt to put such gender affirming care “out of reach.”

But state Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua who is sponsor of SB 562 said it would give privacy and competitive protection for girls who need it in the face of existing law.

Senate Bill 562, defining sexual identity, is similar to a bill which passed the House recently. House Bill 396 permitting classification of individuals based on biological sex passed narrowly on a vote of 192-184.

While there are rights against LGBTQ+ discrimination, this similar measure was seen by some testifying as harming an estimated 10,000 LGBTQ+ New Hampshire residents.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also heard about artificial intelligence and its uses which is bringing a whole new category of crime to the internet where children and adult images are being manipulated for sexual reasons.

To deal with that, Senate Bill 564 was introduced relative to crimes involving children in sexual images, said its sponsor.

Senate Bill 464 prohibiting the nonconsensual publishing of synthetic sexual images was also heard.

State Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham acknowledged the rapid changes in AI software now being used to exploit children.

She said the bill expands the language in law to define not only a child as under the age of 18 but “something that is portrayed to be someone under the age of 18 and therefore, indistinguishable from a child.”

“The scourge of people abusing children in the production of child sex abuse imagery, exploiting those children for life by selling and exchanging those images and videos on the internet and the black market exchanges,” needs to end, Altschiller said.

She testified with Portsmouth Police Lt. Eric Kinsman commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force who said the AI photos are indistinguishable from real photos and pedophiles don’t need to cut and paste anymore, with AI tools increasingly being promoted to create these images.

Senate Bill 464, sponsored by the chair of the Judiciary, Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, is similar in that the bill looks to address revenge pornography and attempts to destroy careers and individuals through distribution of false likenesses. 

The bill expands existing law that addresses nonconsensual images to include digitally created images and make it a crime.

She said it could not come at a more urgent time when advances in technology are leading to people being falsely represented or “deep fakes” on sexual videos and images.

These synthetic images are used to harass and can have consequences to mental health, Carson said. She noted it is consistent with other acts the state has taken to protect people from being victimized “in such a disgusting way.”

Kinsman said individuals can use billions of images available on the internet to manipulate them into sexual content.

Steven Andrews, Assistant Merrimack County Attorney also supported this as a “proactive” measure which could protect individuals.   

The most lengthy testimony was on how people define biological sex.

Avard, who sponsored the bill, said it protects young ladies from having to compete with men in sports and allows them a measure of privacy.

Nancy Brennan, said she was happy to play a small part in a victory for LGBTQ people and their families when a bill passed several years ago protecting them and now, efforts to reverse those strides are again surfacing.

“Why are we trying to take away those rights?” she asked. Brennan said passing the bill would cause harm to many, unnecessarily.

Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown, a member of the committee, said his daughters cannot compete playing sports with boys, that they could get hurt. He asked Brennan how to deal with that fear and lack of opportunity of being recognized by a college.

Brennan said she has listened to a lot of testimony on sports and her personal feeling is that they just want to play on a team.

“I just feel it is so important for kids to feel they belong,” Brennan said.

Supporting the bill was Joanna Brown of Manchester who said she tried unsuccessfully to get Manchester schools to allow females to have private bathrooms and she had to enroll her in a private school to preserve her safety and privacy saying “kids are taking advantage of the lack of control” over the high school bathrooms and said mostly non-trans kids are causing the problems.

She said pulling her daughter impacted her spot on the varsity lacrosse team, and Gannon noted that it impacts a person’s competitiveness to be selected by a college.

Steve Scaer also supported the bill. He has been outspoken on the transgender issue and said he had dog feces thrown in his face a week ago.

He said people are frightened to speak out, responding to State Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton’s questioning of Avard that his bill was designed to harm people who are already feeling disenfranchised, marginalized and suicidal Scaer said “don’t be blackmailed by the suicide myth.”

Courtney Reed, policy advocate for the ACLU of New Hampshire, spoke in opposition to several of the bills including the one that targets healthcare for one type of person. 

Senate Bill 304 would drive qualified providers out of the state and medical malpractice rates could soar.

It also changes the language of the law which weakens protections for LGBTQ+, she said.

Ava Hawkes, director of advocacy for the NH Medical Society, opposed the bill noting it singles out one particular aspect of medical care and would impact medical malpractice.

Paula Tracy is a senior writer at with 30 years experience.

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