During my teenage years (in the Sixties) I had heard about Harvey Milk and his efforts to fight for the GLBT Community in San Francisco. I didn’t realize how his efforts might help me as a transgender youth, because I was hiding my secret from the world. But I did recognize that he was bold and persistent in his actions to create awareness of a community that had been victimized and was not treated equally by the rest of the City of San Francisco.
Much like Harvey Milk, I was just an average person trying to educate people about the injustices the Transgender community faced. I became a Speaker for Speak Out Boston and educated a lot of people and organizations. I started a support group for transgender people and their families. I joined PFLAG NH to support Parents and other GLBT people. Most importantly, I was helping others.
During those years there were no antidiscrimination laws in NH to protect Transgender people like me. In 2009 I was contacted by a NH State Representative and a Lawyer from GLAD, to become the spokesperson for a Transgender Nondiscrimination bill in our Legislature. I became an independent lobbyist, educating Legislators on both sides of the aisle. The Transgender Bill didn’t pass that year, but it was close.
In 2017 and 2018 we submitted another transgender equality Bill. This time it passed. In 2017 I also ran for the Somersworth, NH School Board and won! There was no discussion about me being a Transgender person. In 2018 I ran for the NH State House and won! There were no major issues with me being a Transgender Woman.
What I learned from Harvey Milk is that you can’t accept failure. You need to keep trying! Becoming a Politician was not on my list many years ago. Now it’s my passion!
-New Hampshire State Representative-elect Gerri Cannon