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  • State Rep Ryan Berman. Photo: Michigan House of Representatives

This Michigan Legislator Dreams of Putting Parents of Trans Kids in Prison for Life

Proposed House bill would make gender-affirming care for minors a felony

By |2022-10-24T15:34:26-04:00October 14th, 2022|Election, Michigan, News|

A new bill introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives would make it illegal for parents and guardians to get gender-affirming care for minors. HB 6454 would make obtaining such care a felony, punishable by up to life in prison, under the category of first-degree child abuse. The bill was introduced by Republican State Rep Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.), who had the audacity to bring it forward on Tuesday, Oct. 11 – National Coming Out Day.

“Gender affirming care is medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender youth,” said Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott in an action alert sent out in response to the proposed bill. “Medical decisions belong to trans youth, their parents, and their doctors.”

Berman, the same state rep who seeks to ban drag shows from Michigan schools — not that there has ever been one — was joined by co-sponsors and fellow state reps Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), Steve Marino (R-Harrison Twp.) and Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville)

“People are abusing these children,” LaFave falsely said to The Hill. “The idea that we would be making potentially life-altering changes to 11-, 12-, 13-, 14-, 15-year-old kids when it is illegal for them to have sex is insane. I mean, they’re not responsible enough to smoke a cigarette until they’re 21.”

If this horribly misguided bill were to pass the house (where Republicans have a 3-person majority) and state senate (where Republicans are in charge 22-16), it would make Michigan the second state (after Alabama, where puberty blockers and hormone therapy for trans youth is outlawed) to classify providing gender-affirming care as a felony. Arkansas has banned some gender-affirming care, and a recent Arizona law bans minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries, something that is rarely done.

Even if passed by both chambers of the Michigan legislature, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would undoubtedly veto the medically unsound bill. However, if queer-phobic Tudor Dixon were to somehow win in a few weeks, the bill would certainly be signed into law. Dixon and other Republican candidates across the state have been actively campaigning on an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to rally their culturally antiquated conservative base. 

These efforts are clear attempts to distract from the fact that Republicans are behind in the polls on issues such as a woman’s right to choose, a topic sure to play a large role in next month’s election. Playing on such fears has long been a successful way for Republicans to raise funds from the radical right. 

Matthew DePerno, who is running to replace Attorney General Dana Nessel, a lesbian, called her “Michigan’s Groomer General” on Twitter in a weak attempt to play on outdated and disproven stereotypes that queer people are predators. 

Nadine Hubbs, a professor in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan and the director of the institution’s Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative, commented on the ploy for a story on mlive.com.

“We LGBTQ people … we have a long history of being framed as sexual suspects,” said Hubbs. “It’s easy, then, to rouse that aura of suspicion around an LGBTQ politician or public figure because you just splash water on all the old myths and stereotypes.”

The American Medical Association came out in support of trans youth in an open letter the group issued last year urging legislators to leave medical decisions to doctors.

“Such decisions must be sensitive to the child’s clinical situation, nurture the child’s short and long-term development, and balance the need to preserve the child’s opportunity to make important life choices autonomously in the future,” read the letter in part. “We believe it is inappropriate and harmful for any state to legislatively dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate and limit the range of options physicians and families may consider when making decisions for pediatric patients.”

Knott is calling on progressive Michiganders to contact their state rep and urge them not to support this horrible bill.

“The Michigan House of Representatives are trying to come between youth and the care they need,” Knott wrote in the Equality Michigan action alert. “House Bill 6454 is a reckless bill that, if passed, will have dangerous effects on transgender youth.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael has been with Pride Source since 1999 and is currently senior staff writer. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.
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