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Palana Belken
Somersworth, NH

As the assistant manager at Teatotaller Cafe in Somersworth, NH, Palana Belken feels welcomed, supported, and appreciated by her manager Emmett and her patrons. Palana is a transgender woman, born and raised as a male but now living every day as the woman she’s long known herself to be, and the support of her community means the world to her. In 2018, Palana worked with the campaign to pass statewide nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, and helped bring several events to the cafe, including volunteer meetings and innovative ‘Ask a  Trans Person Anything’ discussion panels. She was understandably elated when the protections were passed in 2018.

“I loved the experience of seeing people all across the state come together and fight for something,” Palana said. “I think it’s amazing that this bill went through a Republican-majority House, Republican-majority Senate, and was signed by a Republican governor. It was cool to see that New Hampshire was able to send the message that the two sides are not that divided on this issue.”

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