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What is the Affirming Spaces Project?

The Affirming Spaces Project (ASP) is a Northern New England-based organization dedicated to improving local communities through the development and maintenance of welcoming and affirming environments for patrons, visitors and employees of all genders. ASP was founded by a small group of local residents who share a common goal: improving our communities and the daily lives of all residents.

How does ASP work?

It’s simple!

  • Step 1: Businesses/organizations are trained by ASP. We cover everything from customer interactions, to printed and digital employee and client forms, to the organization and labeling of products. 
  • Step 2: Businesses/organizations (now designated as ASP Community Partners) make small changes to their materials, procedures, and norms to create the most welcoming, safe, and comfortable environment possible for visitors and employees of all genders.
  • Step 3: Community Partners are added to ASP’s online database, making them easier for trans and gender non-conforming folks (and allies!) to find.

Why engage in this work now? And why here?

In 2018, NH House Bill 1319 was signed into law, creating gender-based non-discrimination protections in housing and employment and establishing a new standard for tolerance and inclusion in New Hampshire. His message was clear: the thousands of transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC) people living in New Hampshire deserve the same rights as every other citizen.

The passage of this bill was a victory for all who support fair treatment and equal rights. But even with new protections in place, navigating life as a TGNC person can still be daunting. There is still a significant gap between the bare-minimum protections that businesses must legally afford transgender people and the positive changes in daily habits and language needed to truly create and sustain friendly, comfortable business environments for all. As a result, something as basic as getting a haircut, going for a massage, or calling in a dinner reservation can lead to misunderstanding or poor treatment, even from well-intentioned allies. The Affirming Spaces Project intends to close this gap.

In the years since the passage of HB1319, New Hampshire has seen some encouraging progress: the election of transgender residents to state and local government positions, the passage of additional laws expanding rights and protections for transgender residents, and increasingly vocal support for just treatment for all. However, recent legislative pushbacks have threatened this progress, and the future of trans rights in the state remains uncertain.