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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Hundreds of members of the local LGBTQ community gathered on the lawn of the Allen County Courthouse Saturday afternoon for a rally in protest against the various bills currently circulating through the Indiana Statehouse in the on-going Legislative Session.

The “No Hate In Our State” event was organized by Fort Wayne LGBTQ Activist, Thad Geradot and featured several guest speakers to help raise awareness of the issues that the LGBTQ community currently faces, particularly those who are transgender.

Dr. Eric Shoemaker, a Fort Wayne Physician commonly provides counseling to youth who are commonly facing questions when it comes to trans issues and believes there are several misconceptions. “I don’t think people know what gender dysphoria is,” Shoemaker stated, “It is rooted in misunderstanding and fear.” Shoemaker also said that people as a whole struggle to learn more about transgender issues. “The biggest misconception is that people are doing it (transgenderism) for the heck of it, but that is so far from the truth,” Shoemaker stated.

Last Monday, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, issued a to several “youth gender clinics” questioning the motivations and reasons for the clinic’s existence. Rokita’s letter proclaimed that “Doctors, clinics, and hospitals are increasingly prescribing puberty blockers, sex hormones, and even surgeries to minor children without disclosing the known risks,” with one of those risks being sterilization. Shoemaker says that the statement is false. “Transgender care is so much more than surgery, so much more than medicine. It is behavioral health, it is being there for people,” Shoemaker explained, “To limit what transgender care is in just a letter is just impossible and to say those things about it, it’s based in fear, and it’s based in misinformation, and it’s not based in fact.”

LGBTQ inclusiveness is also on the minds of local lawmakers including Democratic Candidate for Fort Wayne City Council At-Large, Stephanie Crandall. “We hear every day from businesses that the biggest issue is talent attraction and retention,” Crandall expressed, “We need to make sure that we have a community that can provide workers and that they have the opportunities to thrive here. We need not do anything to diminish that ability.”

Several downtown businesses displayed pride flags on Saturday in unison with the event to show their support to the LGBTQ community, a business community that Crandall overall wants to do what she feels is the right thing to do. “Businesses want to do the right thing for their customers, and their community and they want to make sure that they have those workers that can meet their needs.”

Several speakers spoke during the rally including Democratic Indiana State Representative, Phil GiaQuinta. GiaQuinta serves Indiana House District 80 and presently serves as the House Minority Leader. GiaQuinta emphasized that Indiana House Democrats as a whole stand in unison and will continue to campaign for the rights of the LGBTQ community to stay protected and to try and combat the bills currently proposed in the statehouse to limit transgender care as a whole.

The legislative session is set to resume on Monday and is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, April 29th.