Make your home page

Transgender Hoosiers seek civil protections in statehouse debate

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) – Transgender Hoosiers are are taking the current public battle for civil rights protections, personally.

“I don’t doubt that they’ll eventually come to it, but it does concern me that it was left out because they didn’t think they could get the votes if it was left in,” said JJ Gufreda, a transgender woman, and president of the Indy Rainbow Chamber. “I don’t understand why we’re that scary.”

She said those in the transgender community are brainstorming how they’ll move forward after a Senate committee passed a Senate Bill 344 offering civil rights protections to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, but not transgenders.

“It puts the discrimination, or possible discrimination into the current discussion where before it wasn’t,” said Gufreda. “I’m a Christian, I don’t understand where in Christianity it says we want to be able to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender people.

“I would rather see this bill scrapped, all we want is four words and a comma, it’s that easy,” said Annette Gross, an LGBT ally, and planner of many statehouse rallies.

The four words she’s referring to are: sexual orientation, gender identity.

“The LGBT community does not want special rights, they just want to be added to what’s existing right now,” said Gross.

“Transgender individuals in Indiana are amongst the individuals most in need of protections: in employment, in housing, and in public accommodations,” said Jane Henegar of the ACLU, which is also working to add transgender people to the bill.

“It sends a bad message and then practically it creates some problems that maybe weren’t there before,” said Gufreda.

Gufreda says she’s spoken with House Speaker Brian Bosma, and says she’s hoping what passes the House includes transgender people.

If that’s the case the two chambers would have to come to an agreement before sending the bill to Governor Pence. Its not clear if he would sign it.