Today by a unanimous vote of 9-0, Portsmouth’s City Council passed a resolution directing the city manager to adopt a non-discrimination policy to protect transgender municipal employees from discrimination.  The resolution was introduced by Portsmouth’s Assistant Mayor, Jim Splaine.

The resolution also supports statewide non-discrimination protections for transgender people. New Hampshire is currently the only New England state without a statewide non-discrimination law protecting transgender people.

“Discrimination against transgender people sadly is pervasive and severe,” said Janson Wu, Staff Attorney for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which supported the resolution with local partners. “We applaud Portsmouth for being a leader on this resolution that will improve the lives of so many Granite Staters.”

Employment discrimination is a serious issue for transgender people. A national survey conducted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force in 2011 found that transgender people suffer unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole; 90 % experience harassment on the job (90%); and 47% experience adverse job outcomes, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion because of their transgender status.  As a result, transgender people experience high rates of poverty.

“Fighting discrimination not only provides crucial protections to an extremely vulnerable and marginalized community, but it benefits the whole community,” said Julian Long, steering committee member for Transgender New Hampshire, a statewide advocacy organization for the transgender community. “That’s why we are seeing more and more businesses and employers adopting similar policies for their employees.”

Portsmouth now joins almost 200 municipalities, 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government, which have all adopted laws or policies protecting transgender people. In additional, over 60% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar policies for their employees.

In addition, both Senators Shaheen and Ayotte have voted in favor of similar employment protections for transgender individuals at the federal level.