AUDIO: Michigan Republicans want to ban gender-affirming care for everyone

By Kyle Kaminski

January 29, 2024

Republican lawmakers from Michigan want to enact discriminatory laws to strip away life-saving health care for transgender and non-binary people, regardless of their age.

MICHIGAN—Republicans lawmakers are hashing out new plans to ban gender-affirming care, sometimes referred to as transition-related care, “for everyone,” regardless of their age or the deadly consequences associated with blocking access to necessary, life-saving health care.

In recently released audio from a Twitter Space hosted by state Rep. Brad Paquette (R-Niles), multiple Republican lawmakers from Michigan and Ohio can be heard planning out a legislative “endgame” that includes banning transgender health care “for everyone”—including adults.

State Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) reportedly kicked off the “endgame” discussion:

“In terms of endgame, why are we allowing these practices for anyone?” he asked. 

“It’s harmful across the board and that’s something we need to take into consideration,” Schriver insisted on the online forum. “It’s wrong for everyone and we shouldn’t be allowing it to happen.”

Gender-affirming care is a term that covers a wide range of life-saving health care treatments for transgender and non-binary people of all ages—including mental health care, medical care, and social services. Decades of medical research shows that gender-affirming care is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria or distress that results from gender identity transitions.

Among the other Republican lawmakers on the call: Michigan state Sens. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and Jonathan Lindsey (R-Coldwater); state Rep. Tom Kunse (R-Clare); and Ohio state Rep. Gary Click. Click, who sponsored legislation to ban trans health care in Ohio, said Schriver’s “endgame” to ban gender-affirming care for everyone was a “very smart thought.”

“What we know legislatively is we have to take small bites,” Click told Schriver. 

Anti-trans activist Prisha Mosley also lauded Schriver’s remarks.

“I’ve kind of been waiting for a state or a representative or anyone to be brave enough to address that,” she said. “Most of these doctors are straight-up lying about the effects and saying it’ll magically cure every bad feeling you’ve ever had and that you can magically change sex.”

Every major medical and mental health organization—including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association—recognizes that gender-affirming care is medically necessary to support people in affirming their gender identity. Research also shows that trans health care can help save lives—namely by improving the overall health and well-being of transgender people.

In Michigan, legislation passed by Democratic lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has created new legal protections for LGBTQ people—including an expansion to the state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and a new law that banned mental health providers from offering so-called “conversion therapy.”

Still, Republican lawmakers across the US have only sharpened their focus against the LGBTQ community by passing legislation that restricts access to medical care for transgender people. 

More than a dozen states have enacted laws that ban gender-affirming care for high school aged youth. Some states—like Oklahoma, Texas, and South Carolina—are also reportedly considering broader health care bans for transgender people who are up to 26 years old.

As of this week, the ACLU is actively tracking nearly 400 pieces of legislation that aim to directly restrict the rights, safety, or freedoms of LGBTQ people—including nine bills in Michigan.

Toward the end of the Twitter Space conversation, Schriver again emphasized that he wanted to introduce legislation that would effectively ban all forms of gender-affirming care for “all people.”

Paquette responded: “We’ll chat offline about all this good stuff.”

The exchange has since drawn criticism from progressive activists across the state—namely because Republican lawmakers rarely spell out their anti-trans policy strategies so clearly. 

“Gone are the flimsy and veiled comments—now they’re admitting to their real intention: stripping away trans people’s fundamental right to pursue care that’s right for them,” Sam Inglot, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement. “Of course, this isn’t just about the procedures themselves. It’s about the hate, bigotry, and cruelty that drives right-wing extremists, to the point where they would rather see trans people suffer than simply let them exist.”

Schriver, Paquette, and Kunse were elected in 2022. Their current terms end on Jan. 1, 2025. 

READ MORE: Michigan Republican supports death penalty for gay people

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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