We were thrilled to be a tabling organization at Rights & Democracy New Hampshire‘s Trans Rally & Picnic yesterday! The day was a celebration of the success of HB 1319, the bill to prohibit trans discrimination in NH.

Mayor Joyce Craig was there to welcome everyone, saying “It is an honor that you are celebrating here in our fine city… My priority is to make Manchester a welcoming city to all.” Somersworth School Board member and State Rep candidate Gerri Cannon also spoke, giving some history of the fight for trans rights in the workplace and the state house.

There were wonderful poetry readings by trans and nonbinary folks, music by an acapella group called TransPosition Vocal Ensemble and the whole thing was hosted by Chloé LaCasse. This year’s stage manager Skye Payne presented a trans flag to a person in the crowd who raised their hand when asked who was in the crowd was trans and didn’t have a flag. They draped the trans flag over the shoulders of the person to whom they were presenting the flag, noting that they remembered how significant it was to receive their first flag.

Skye and Chloé are both part of Rights & Democracy’s TOLD program. TOLD stands for Transgender Organizing Leadership Development, whose goal is “to educate and organize our trans community and allies to move our state toward truly inclusive legislation and universal protection.” Skye had the idea to organize the first Trans Rally in 2017, when the legal protection for trans folks was not yet law, and Chloé took up the baton to make it happen again this year as celebration, after the governor signed HB 1319 into law.

One of the most powerful moments of the day was when Chloé asked us all to come in and link arms or hold hands to make one big circle. She asked us to look around at our community and feel the support. We then were led in a few chants of, “You are not alone; I am here for you.”

Afterward, many of us convened at the nearby Madear’s cajun restaurant, a welcoming and LGBTQIA-friendly eatery serving tasty Louisiana cuisine. (I tried gator. It was good!) Sensitive Men and The Sequioas played great acoustic sets.

Here are few things I learned about at the picnic:

Keep following Rights and Democracy and the organizations above for more ways to get involved locally — especially as we enter another election season. Your personal story and passion can make a difference in your community!