A New Hampshire Democrat on Tuesday became the first openly transgender person elected to statewide office in the country.
Stacie Laughton, a Nashua selectman, will represent portions of the state’s second largest city located on the Massachusetts border in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She and two other Democrats defeated two Republicans who had also ran.
The N.H. House has 400 members from 103 districts. Each lawmaker has an average of 3,300 constituents, but the most populated districts can have up to 13 representatives.
Laughton did not immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment, but she said in a campaign video she would “always fight for the rights of the LGBT community.” New Hampshire lawmakers in 2009 rejected a bill that would have added gender identity and expression to the state’s non-discrimination law.
Laughton told the [Nashua] Telegraph newspaper she hopes her election will inspire other LGBT people to seek political office.
“I believe that at this point, the LGBT community will hopefully be inspired,” Laughton told the newspaper on Nov. 8. “My hope is that now maybe we’ll see more people in the community running, maybe for alderman. Maybe in the next election, we’ll have a senator.”
Gay former state Rep. Ray Buckley, who chairs the New Hampshire Democratic Party, welcomed Laughton’s election.
“Serving in the N.H. House is an extraordinary experience because it brings together 400 citizens from all walks of life to work together,” he told the Blade. “Having a transgendered person as a member of the House will bring a unique experience and perspective to the challenges facing the state.”
Joelle Ruby Ryan, a transgender activist who is also a professor at the University of New Hampshire, agreed.
“Words cannot express how excited I am about the election of Ms. Stacie Laughton to the N.H. House of Representative,” she told the Blade. “As a transgender activist in N.H. for 20 years now, I can honestly state that this is a pivotal milestone in our long struggle for full equality and civil rights.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, also described Laughton’s election as “historic.”
“We’re thrilled she was elected,” said Keisling. “She did it the grassroots way you have to do it in New Hampshire. She’s part of the community and clearly did it right, so it’s pretty impressive she got elected.”
Nashua voters elected Laughton on the same night former state Sen. Maggie Hassan defeated Republican Ovide Lamontagne to become New Hampshire’s next governor.