I Am Tired of Being a Hoosier in the Current Political Climate

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As a child, I thought Indiana was a perfect place to live. The weather, the Children’s Museum, the lakes and the Indianapolis Zoo were key things I remember loving while growing up. However, as I grew older I became increasingly aware of how unideal living in Indiana was. From laws targeting LGBTQ+ people, to gun violence, to anti-abortion laws, I truly am tired of being a Hoosier. If this is what my state represents, then I want to leave.

To begin, as someone who identifies as nonbinary and bisexual, I find living in Indiana a depressing experience. It seems like every few weeks our lawmakers draft a new bill that targets the LGBTQ+ community. For instance, House Bill 1291, which was proposed Jan. 9, aims to replace the usage of “gender” with biological sex, which means Indiana “would recognize a person’s gender based on their sex organs rather than how they choose to identify,” according to the IndyStar. The bill also aims to change the gender on individual’s ID cards to their biological sex, according to WISH-TV

I find HB 1291—although it is now inactive, according to the Indiana General Assembly’s website—to be dangerous and shameful on our lawmakers, because it could encourage more legislation in the future to “out” transgender people. This is scary. From Oct.1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023, 320 transgender and gender-diverse people were murdered globally, according to Forbes. However, that number may be less than the actual figure, as the Trans Murder Monitoring report bases its figures on media reports, according to Forbes. There is no doubt in my mind that outing someone through that person’s government ID card will increase these hate crimes in Indiana.

Gun violence also deters me from wanting to stay in Indianapolis post-graduation. According to WRTV, gun violence in Indianapolis killed 15 children in 2022 and 21 in 2023. What is even more disturbing are the facts that more than 3,000 people have been shot in Indianapolis since 2020, and homicides—mostly committed with firearms— have increased 85% since 15 years ago, according to IndyStar. With only a 9% increase in population during that time, per IndyStar, it is clear that gun violence has become a serious problem. But what have our lawmakers done about this? Insultingly, they passed a law that no longer requires a permit for legal concealed carry, according to IndyGov, which took effect in July 2022. I will give credit where it is due, as Senate Bill No. 24 proposes raising the minimum age to own a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. However, the bill was proposed on Jan. 8 and has lain dormant, according to LegiScan. Because I live in a red state, it looks like the bill has died, according to the Indiana General Assembly’s website

While I am not a woman or person who is able to get pregnant, the anti-abortion bills passed last year ruined the idea of being a Hoosier for me. Senate Enrolled Act No. 1, a near-absolute abortion ban, with very few exceptions, went into effect in Indiana on Sept. 15. SEA No.1 allows for abortion only if the person’s life or health is seriously at risk or if the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly—up to 20 weeks post-fertilization, per WFYI Indianapolis. In cases of incest and rape, according to WFYI, abortion is allowed up to 10 weeks post-fertilizaton in Indiana. Despite this being nearly half a year ago, it still infuriates me to know that reproductive rights in my home state were stripped away and that many are distressed because of it. For instance, according to NPR, researchers estimated that 64,565 rape-caused pregnancies occurred in the states that enacted abortion bans after the dismantling of a Roe v. Wade. Thousands and thousands of women are suffering in these states, which includes Indiana. It makes me wonder what other rights can be taken away, starting with the proposal of a bill. Some may call me paranoid, but I do not believe Indiana’s government will stop at reproductive rights when attempting to control people. Lawmakers could target gender expression, sexuality or anything else that is “untraditional,” which is why we must vote—and vote locally. While I do not plan to stay in Indiana after I graduate, I do recognize the importance of local government. Now that I am of voting age, I can participate not only in the presidential election, but in our state and local elections as well. According to Civic Influencers, because local elections have a lower turnout, our votes actually can have an impact on our state. In 2024 alone, we can vote for governor, our representatives in the U.S. Congress and the Indiana General Assembly, the state supreme court, municipal government officials, and more, according to Ballotpedia. After seeing years of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, gun violence, and the stripping away of reproductive rights, I cannot sit idly by and vote only in the presidential election. I am no longer a lackadaisical child simply happy to exist. I am an adult, and if my vote can have a chance for Indiana, I need to vote for candidates who best represent the progress that is needed for all of us. I urge you to do so, too—Hoosier lives are in danger.

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