INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday marked International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Here in Central Indiana, Indy Pride held an online celebration, putting on a community talent showcase to mark the day.
For the first time in our country's history, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation recognizing the day. He sent out a message on social media calling on Americans to uplift the worth and dignity of transgender Americans.
However, the president's order comes as members of the trans community face the possibility of restrictive laws in several states.
The American Civil Liberties Union says more than 60 bills are considered in state legislatures. Most of them fall into two categories: keeping trans girls from participating in girl's sports and restricting young trans peoples' access to gender-affirming healthcare.
Veronica Pejril, Indiana's first openly transgender elected official, explained why these bills are harmful.
"These kinds of bills that try to disenfranchise and stigmatize trans folks basically make trans kids feel like they don't have much hope in their lives to live as their most authentic selves," Pejril said.
She believes these bills come from a place that over simplifies what it means to be transgender.
"It's not just something that somebody falls out of the wrong side of bed one day and they decide they're going to change their gender marker on their identification," Pejril said.
Every person who identifies as trans has a different journey figuring out how to live their life authentically. Pejril said what they don't need are legislative road blocks hampering that self-discovery.
She said the bills are dehumanizing and run counter to last summer's 6-3 SCOTUS decision about LGBTQ+ rights.
"The United States Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that Title XII applies to sex broadly in a way that includes gender identity," Pejril said.
Many believe, as evidenced by all the proposed legislation, that there are two sides to this issue. Pejril disagrees and explained why.
"When it comes down to matters regarding healthcare, there is no opposing health side. All of the legitimate health organizations in the US and around the world (American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization) they all recognize the value of gender-affirming healthcare of individuals who present as transgender," Pejril said.
"When it comes down to these state bills that are attempting to exclude accommodations and access to students, those things are going to fail when they make their way to the Supreme Court because that's already been ruled on."
Bills that advocates considered anti-trans in three states (Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas) were signed into law in March and are expected to face legal challenges.
In Indiana, two bills that would have impacted transgender members of our community filed but have not received hearings.
Coinciding with Trans Day of Visibility, State Senator Shelli Yoder proposed an amendment to a house bill that would prohibit charter schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status.