To address coming legislation about LGBT civil rights, several trans Hoosiers have come forward to tell their personal stories and share why having full civil rights protections for transgender people is essential in Indiana.
Kimberly Acoff has lived in Fort Wayne since her family moved there when she was in the fifth grade. She works for the state of Indiana in the Department of Child Services.
Kimberly said of her job, “It’s a wonderful experience to be able to help bridge whatever gaps that exist and keep their families together.” It’s that love for her work that has kept her working there for the past nine years.
She loves her community and her work. In addition to her current job, Kimberly is proud of the six years she spent in the Army National Guard, where the training she led was recognized for the excellent training they provided to hundreds of soldiers.
Clearly, Kimberly is the kind of person any community would be proud to count among its members. And yet, under current Indiana law, Kimberly isn’t protected from discrimination.
As a transgender woman, Kimberly has concerns about the lack of protection from discrimination in her community and around the state. Under current Indiana law, Kimberly could be discriminated against in most of the state and she would have no legal recourse.
“I don’t think that’s who we are as Hoosiers,” Kimberly said, adding, “it’s not who we are as Americans, either.”
Kit Malone has lived in Indiana her entire life. She grew up here. She went to college here. She went on to become a high school teacher here. “I love this state,” she said, “I love the people who live in it. I think it’s a great place to live.”
Unfortunately, because she is a transgender woman, in most of Indiana Kit could be fired simply for being who she is. She could be kicked out of an apartment or refused service at a business.
Until recently, Kit worked as a teacher in a rural school. “The students needed talented educators, and I loved my job,” Kit said. She added that both students and staff liked her. So, why would she leave?
“I feared for my safety and my future should my status as a transgender person be discovered by my employer,” Kit said.
Cameron St. Andrew
Thirteen years ago, Cameron St. Andrew answered the call to serve his country and joined the Indiana National Guard. For those 13 years, Cameron served in silence about the fact that he was a transgender man.
Even as the ban on open service by gay, bisexual and lesbian Americans under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was lifted, the ban on service by transgender Americans continued.
“Until recently it was something I merely accepted as the status quo, it was considered selfless service; I stood by that for most of my career but that takes a toll on a person,” said Cameron.
“I felt like I had developed social PTSD; always having to watch my back, wondering who was going to out me, always wondering what day would be the beginning of the end of my career,” he said.
“It came to a point where I couldn’t tolerate it any longer, my anxiety was to the point it was debilitating. I was barley living, merely existing,” said St. Andrew.
Gina Eilers has posted a series of videos on her YouTube channel about her journey and what civil rights mean to her.
Gina: “In preparing possible ways to discuss with legislators and media the civil rights for trans persons, in this video I talk about the cause of the condition for which transitioning is my personal form of healing.”