Dana Black: Watch HB 1291, other legislation closely this year

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Dana BlackIn a story reported by NWI.com, in anticipation of the 2024 General Assembly session, House Speaker Todd Huston said, “We’ll probably take a pretty measured approach to what we address and what we attack. We’ll have fewer agenda bills to signal that leadership is of the ‘less is more’ opinion right now.”

When Republicans met behind closed doors to discuss which bills would move forward into committee, they could have done away with House Bill 1291, authored by Rep. Chris Judy and co-authored by Rep. Joanna King, Rep. Michelle Davis and Rep. Robert Morris. This bill, introduced in the Judiciary Committee on Jan. 9, is defined as addressing “specific terms for purposes of certain statutes that concern sex discrimination and benefits and services that are designated based upon sex.”

This might sound innocuous—at face value, who doesn’t want a bill with clear and understandable terms? However, that is not the intention of this bill. What this bill attempts to do is legislate away the existence of humans who identify as transgender and non-binary by changing critical language in current law and determining who can receive state government services by changing the term “gender” to “biological sex.” As explicitly stated: “Sex” means the biological, genetic identity of a person as either male or female. This term does not include gender identity or any other term that conveys a person’s subjective identification of a term other than male or female.”

Look at these legislators trying to tell you who you are because they know you better than you do. Once again, Indiana Republicans are demonstrating that not every Hoosier has the right to exist as they see themselves, especially if how you identify does not line up with their very narrow view of humanity.

Instead of solving a problem, these legislators are creating another one. They just want to wreak havoc on Hoosiers when they could be finding a way to make their lives better. You would think they would get tired of trying to bully people into submission, considering the way people live their lives has absolutely nothing to do with them. As hard as they try, they cannot erase people. They are causing trauma!

It is obvious that this language is designed to prevent transgender and non-binary humans from exercising their basic rights. This legislation would allow the Indiana government to discriminate against a community that pays into the system that cares for Hoosiers. I did not see any language in this legislation that would permit Hoosiers who do not fit into this narrow view from contributing tax dollars that would support discrimination against themselves. Where is that language?

The frustrating part, other than the blatant bigotry, is that lawmakers have the opportunity to do something that actually improves lives, like common-sense gun legislation so children will not be gunned down in schools, malls, at concerts, or in church; legalizing recreational cannabis, which would increase our state’s tax revenue versus sending that revenue to surrounding states; or funding more affordable housing in all 92 counties to help reduce the homelessness rates. Instead, these people are just trying to find another way to “other” people.

So much for that quiet 2024 General Assembly session; that was just a bait-and-switch to keep many of us from looking at legislation more closely. But because Indiana has a history of denying humans their rights, people are watching and drawing attention to the problematic bills that do not help but harm lives.•

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Black is former deputy chairwoman for engagement for the Indiana Democratic Party
and a former candidate for the Indiana House. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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One thought on “Dana Black: Watch HB 1291, other legislation closely this year

  1. Remember, the Republican Party is for limited government, except when it comes to our bedrooms and personal lives, in which case they’re all about legislating!

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