Myths and Facts about Gender Identity and Indiana Civil Rights Protections

Facts and Myths

Myth:

Discrimination against transgender people is not a problem in Indiana.

FACT:

Most transgender Hoosiers report having experienced discrimination in a public accommodation setting. Many have either been fired from their jobs or are fearful of being fired if they disclose their trans status. Many transgender Hoosiers (especially young people) have been kicked out of their homes, or are fearful of being kicked out of their homes. Often when people reach out to Indiana Transgender Network for information or help, they do so anonymously because they are fearful of violence or backlash from their jobs or communities.

One of the largest requests we get on Indiana Transgender Network is a recommendation for trans-friendly housing, or requests for homeless shelters that are transgender-friendly. Homeless shelters in rural Indiana settings frequently refuse to help transgender people or kick them out if they discover they are transgender, often because they are run by religious charities.


Myth:

“Public accommodations” means bathrooms and locker rooms.

FACT:

Public accommodations are all the places we go between work, home and school. This includes movie theaters, restaurants, parks, public transportation, and coffee shops. Indiana law does not yet prohibit gender identity discrimination in any of those places.


Myth:

Gender Identity is hard to define in a legal capacity

FACT:

Across the nation, 17 states, Washington D.C., and more than 200 cities and towns have passed non-discrimination laws protecting gender identity in public spaces. That includes 11 Indiana municipalities. Indianapolis provided a legal definition 10 years ago for it’s Human Rights Ordinance that has set the standard.


Myth:

Civil rights protections would give transgender Hoosiers special rights

FACT:

Gender Identity means everyone’s gender identity – including folks who are not transgender! Hoosiers who are not transgender are sometimes the victims of gender identity discrimination, too. This non-trans woman was removed from a restaurant’s women’s restroom because she “looked like a boy.”


Myth:

Non-discrimination protections could be used as cover for misconduct in bathrooms and locker rooms.

FACT:

That’s false. The language of civil rights law prohibits its abuse, criminal laws remain in force, and real-life experience tells a different story:

  • The law explicitly prohibits people from asserting gender identity for any “improper purpose.”
  • Nothing in civil rights protections weakens laws against predatory or invasive behavior. Indecent assault and harassment will remain illegal.
  • The 17 states and hundreds of municipalities that have implemented transgender non-discrimination protections have reported no problems. There have been zero reported incidents in Indiana.
  • Gyms with non-discrimination policies report no problems – including Planet Fitness, the gym franchise with 23 facilities across Indiana, which allows patrons to use the locker room that aligns with their gender identity.

Myth:

The bill would allow men to invade women’s spaces. A man could just “wake up one day” and claim to be a woman, then access women’s facilities.

FACT:

That’s not how gender identity works, and it’s not protected under the law. The proposed laws describe gender identity as “a sincerely held… part of a person’s core identity” that can be demonstrated by reference to medical history, care or treatment, or by being asserted in a “consistent and uniform” manner.


Myth:

Legally protecting transgender people in public places will endanger women and children in public bathrooms and locker rooms.

FACT:

The law does not give cover to anyone – transgender or otherwise – who would engage in inappropriate or illegal behavior. However, forcing a transgender person to use a facility that does not match their gender identity makes them extremely vulnerable to harassment and sexual assault. That’s why women’s groups and organizations that advocate for victims of sexual assault support gender identity civil rights protections.


Myth:

Transgender people will violate modesty norms in locker rooms.

FACT:

Transgender people are as modest as anyone else – maybe even more so. They have every reason to avoid drawing attention to their differences in public spaces, because they are disproportionately victims of violence and harassment.


Myth:

This bill would require businesses to spend money to remodel their restrooms to be gender neutral or add restrooms or other sex-segregated facilities.

FACT:

Businesses will not have to spend a penny on remodeling or new construction. The law will simply guarantee patrons safe access to the existing facilities that align with their gender identity.

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