Michigan Bill Would Make Gender Reassignment Procedures for Minors 1st-Degree Child Abuse

Michigan Bill Would Make Gender Reassignment Procedures for Minors 1st-Degree Child Abuse
Toddler At Children's Hospital for Surgery on Oct. 11, 2022. (Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers in Michigan recently introduced legislation that would outlaw medical procedures for gender reassignment of transgender minors and consider it first-degree child abuse.

The proposal comes just days before the nation's first trial over a state's ban on such care begins this week.

A person, including parents, guardians, and licensed medical professionals, would be guilty of first-degree child abuse in Michigan if they knowingly or intentionally consent to, obtain, or assist with a gender transition procedure for a child, according to the Republican-backed proposal, House Bill 6454.

Child abuse in the first degree can lead up to life imprisonment or any term of years, according to the legislation, which was filed on Oct. 11. Republican state Reps. Beau LaFave, Ryan Berman, Steve Carra, Luke Meerman, and Steve Marino introduced the measure.

“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,” LaFave told The Hill on Oct. 12. “They’re not ‘responsible enough’ to smoke a cigarette until they’re 21.”

The lawmaker said he’s optimistic that most Republicans in the state legislature will support the measure. If passed, the state would become the second in the nation to make it a felony to provide such care to minors.

A new Alabama law in April banned certain transgender procedures and substances for people younger than 18, such as hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or gender-changing surgery that includes sterilization. Yet in May, a federal judge halted its enforcement while a legal challenge to the legislation moved ahead.

State Actions

The proposal comes a week before the nation’s first trial over state restrictions on gender-related care for children takes place in Arkansas.

Arkansas was the first state to prohibit physicians and health care professionals from providing gender transition procedures to youth or referring them to other health care professionals for the procedures.

The state doesn't see it as a serious crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year. Medical providers who violate the law could face disciplinary actions from the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board.

However, the law, targeting transgender treatments for minors, also faced an immediate court challenge in July 2021, as U.S. District Judge Jay Moody temporarily blocked it from taking effect for more than a year.

On Oct. 17, Moody began hearing testimony and evidence for the case. The families of four transgender youths and two doctors who provided gender-affirming care previously claimed that the legislation was unconstitutional and undermined the rights of transgender youth, parents, and doctors. But advocates of the law have argued that the prohibition is within the state’s authority to regulate medical practices.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Arizona has also passed its own version of the Arkansas law to ban youth younger than 18 from accessing so-called "gender-affirming" surgeries, S.B. 1138, which took effect in late September.
On Aug. 19, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced the first piece of federal legislation, the Protect Children’s Innocence Act, to make gender transition procedures on minors a class C felony nationwide. The penalty under her measure is up to 25 years in prison with a maximum fine of $250,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.