Transgender Hoosiers to rally for civil rights protections

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Transgender Hoosiers are planning a Monday-morning rally at the Statehouse to push for civil rights protections.

The rally will give the activists a chance to meet with lawmakers who are set to decide the issue.

“All we really want to do is live; that’s kind of it in a nutshell,” said Jackie Patterson, the executive director of Indiana Transgender Wellness Alliance.

But for transgender Hoosiers, it’s about living with the same rights and protections as everyone else.

“We have to get everyone caught up; we have to get everyone educated. But everyone also has to embrace the idea that there are things that they need to learn, there are things that they can maybe see differently,” said Patterson.

Patterson says she’s met with many lawmakers as the debate continues over whether or not to include the 40,000 to 60,000 transgender Hoosiers in the state’s Civil Rights Code.

Senate Bill 344 passed a Senate committee last week. It grants protections to gays, lesbians and bisexuals but leaves the transgender community out. Instead, it would create a committee to study the issue.

While some of the debate has centered around bathroom use, Patterson says the issue is more serious. The suicide rate among the transgender community is 41 percent, and she says they’re 26 percent more likely to be victims of violence, and that they’re at a disadvantage in the workplace.

“They’re Hoosiers; they’re taxpayers; they’re people in our community and they deserve to have their rights protected,” said Jennifer Wagner of Freedom Indiana.

Freedom Indiana is planning Monday’s rally. It’s also led the charge to get protections for the LGBT community since RFRA was signed into law.

“If you don’t include gender identity, you’re effectively saying. ‘Let’s leave in place legal discrimination against these people,'” said Wagner.

Patterson  says it comes down to two things.

“Give us the respect and the integrity, and I think we’ll surprise you,” she said.

The rally is planned for 8:30 a.m.

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