NH Republicans hammer anti-LGBTQ agenda on second day of 2024 session

New Hampshire House Republicans led by House Speaker Sherm Packard (center) took major steps advancing their 2024 anti-LGBTQ agenda on Thursday. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

January 5, 2024

Republicans in the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a pair of anti-LGBTQ bills on the second day of the 2024 session and succeeded in killing two bills designed to improve gender affirming care for transgender individuals in the state.

Among the bills taken up and passed was House Bill 619, which would prohibit health care professionals from performing gender affirming surgeries for those under the age of 18 and prohibit health care providers from referring minors to providers offering those types of care outside the state.

Rep. Gerri Cannon (D-Somersworth), one of a handful of transgender members of the New Hampshire legislature, said by banning some forms of gender-affirming care for minors, the state was halting all discussions on advances in care moving forward.

“Why are we considering putting medical procedures into New Hampshire law? Medical science is constantly changing. New procedures, drugs and treatments are introduced all the time. The medical community is constantly learning new ways to care for patients,” she said. S “Our job is to protect the people we serve.”

Republicans also voted to pass House Bill 396, a bill that would allow the state and other public entities to prohibit transgender individuals from using public bathrooms, and to allow sex be a factor when separating athletes in sporting events or similar competitions.

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The House also voted to kill House Bill 264, which would have allowed medical professionals to update birth certificate records to change a person’s gender identity from what they were assigned at birth, bypassing a court order that is currently required to make such a change.

A number of Democrats voted with Republicans on these anti-trans bills, including Rep. Jonah Wheeler (D-Peterborough) who spoke against HB 619, saying that the research and expert testimony he was presented with did not overcome his personal beliefs.

“Despite the fact that I am a liberal… the question before us is whether or not children under the age of 18 should be able to get these surgeries. And I, despite being a liberal, who believes in those human rights, do not think that is the case.” Wheeler said.

He said he spoke to multiple lobbyists and stakeholders with lived experience who tried to convince him otherwise, but was unwilling to change his position on the bill.

Democrats in the House were not shy in offering their disappointment with Wheeler and other Democrats’ decision to vote along with Republicans on the bill. Rep. Ali Murray (D-Manchester) a trans legislator, took to social media following the vote to express shock at the loss of rights for  LGBTQ+ people.

“Listening to my colleagues debate my humanity and my rights, and to have people I thought were my friends vote against them. Words can’t describe the pain of betrayal like this,” Murray said, offering resources to trans individuals in the state who could be moved to suicide by the vote.

Liz Canada, Advocacy Director at Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, said these bills failed to adequately address the needs of the people of New Hampshire.

“While we are deeply disappointed in today’s votes, we are so grateful for the unwavering commitment of so many elected officials, from both sides of the aisle, who continue to act in the best interest of all Granite Staters, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, no matter what,” Canada said.

If HB 619 is signed into law by the governor, New Hampshire would be the 21st state to enact a ban on gender affirming surgeries for individuals under 18, joining Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia, who have all passed similar legislation in recent years.

Thursday’s votes comes after Republicans suffered major defeats on transgender rights bills in the House’s 2023 session. In May 2023, New Hampshire House Democrats successfully blocked Senate Bill 272, an extreme bill that would have forcibly outed transgender students in New Hampshire. These anti-trans bills are part of a major influx of anti-trans bills seen across the nation since 2022.

Research has shown that receiving gender-affirming care is associated with better mental health, including lower risk of depression and self-harm or suicidal thoughts among transgender youth. The wave of anti-trans legislation passed in recent years, meanwhile, has raised concerns among psychologists about the mental health impact on trans individuals, especially in children and teens.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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