9 ways Michigan Republicans are trying to rip away LGBTQ rights

By Kyle Kaminski

January 30, 2024

Republican lawmakers don’t control the legislative agenda in Lansing—but they’re still trying to go after LGBTQ rights.

MICHIGAN—Human rights advocates have identified (and are actively tracking) several anti-LGBTQ bills that have been sponsored by Michigan Republicans over the past year.

All told, nearly 400 pieces of state legislation have been introduced across the country that target LGBTQ rights and would cause harm for LGBTQ people, according to the ACLU

Nine of those bills have been introduced in Michigan by Republican lawmakers. 

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic lawmakers in control of the legislative agenda in Lansing this year, none of the bills are likely to see a hearing—much less become law. Still, they provide insight into how state laws could change under future Republican leadership.

Here’s a quick overview of each of Michigan’s anti-LGBTQ bills, as identified by the ACLU:

1.) House Bill 4546

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Jaime Greene (R-Richmond)

This legislation aims to prevent transgender students from participating in school sports—namely by requiring rankings, awards, and records for sporting events where there are categories by gender to be awarded on the basis of “biological sex,” Michigan Advance reports.

The bill also attempts to define biological sex as “the state of being female or the state of being male,” based on the “objective biological condition determined at the conception of the human.”

Research shows that laws which prevent transgender students from playing sports can have a negative effect on both mental and physical health outcomes, school retention rates, and more. 

2.) House Bill 4540 

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Brad Paquette (R-Niles) 

This legislation would formally prohibit all forms of gender-affirming care—sometimes referred to as transition-related care—for anyone under 18 years of age in Michigan. It would also create a new four-year felony charge for any physician who is caught providing transition-related care. 

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.

3.) House Bill 4510

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford)

This legislation aims to restrict transgender students from using communal restrooms with new legal requirements that all students only use public bathrooms related to their “biological sex.”

The legislation doesn’t outline how the laws would be enforced. Human rights advocates said that process would be prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, and extraordinarily invasive

The proposed laws could also have broader consequences for academic achievement and mental health for Michigan’s public schools. Studies show that up to 76% of transgender students have reported feeling unsafe while at school because of their gender identity. 

4.) House Bill 4345

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Bill Schuette (R-Midland)

This Republican-led legislation attempts to carve out new legal protections that would allow churches and religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people in Michigan.

Last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to expand the state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression—marking a formal end to a decades-long battle to cement civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community.

Michigan’s civil rights act already prohibited discrimination in employment, housing, and public services based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. The new amendments were designed to curb discrimination for the nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ individuals who report experiencing discrimination in their everyday lives.

Schuette’s legislation aims to amend the state’s civil rights law to allow “exceptions” to certain parts of the law—including on protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression at any religious corporation, association, society, or other faith-based organizations.

5.) House Bill 4257

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Steve Carra  (R-Three Rivers)

This legislation would change the definition of child abuse to include parental consent and assistance in their child’s gender-affirming medical care or transition-related procedures. 

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.

6.) House Bill 4195

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Joseph Fox (R-Fremont)

This legislation—much like House Bill 4510—would require students to use bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their “biological sex,” which is defined as male or female.

The bill doesn’t outline exactly how the invasive laws would be enforced. 

7.) House Bill 4075

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Adams Township)

This legislation—similar to House Bill 4345—aims to limit any state government action or law that would “burden a person’s exercise of religion,” Michigan Advance reports. That would include allowing religious business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people in Michigan.

8.) House Bill 4539

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Brad Paquette (R-Niles)

This legislation, similar to House Bill 4540, would criminalize gender-affirming care in Michigan for anyone under 18 years of age. It specifically provides sentencing guidelines for physicians who provide puberty-blocking drugs or perform “gender reassignment” surgery on teenagers.

The legislation would limit access to medically necessary healthcare for transgender people.

9.) House Joint Resolution E

Lead sponsor: State Rep. Steve Carra  (R-Three Rivers)

This resolution, which Carra has billed as a “Women’s Bill of Rights,” attempts to amend the state Constitution to erase the legal existence of transgender people—namely by defining “sex” as “either male or female, at birth,” based exclusively on their biological reproductive systems.

The resolution also calls for separate—but equal—public accommodations based on biological sex, which would allow transgender people to be legally barred from the bathrooms, sports teams, prisons, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and locker rooms of their choice.

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

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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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