Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) recently signed legislation banning efforts by therapists to encourage children to take pride in their biological gender or “identity.” The state still allows conversion therapies for children if the goal is to make them “transgender” or non-straight.
House Bill 4616, which was first introduced by state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D), prevents mental health professionals from “engaging in conversion therapy with a minor,” as reported by The Blaze.
A corresponding bill, House Bill 4716, defines “conversion therapy” as a practice that seeks to change a person’s gender identity, including efforts to change behavior or gender expression as well as reducing or attempting to eliminate romantic feelings toward an individual of the same gender.
Considering that this definition might imply an attempt to persuade children to change their gender or embrace non-straight lifestyles, a clarification was added.
The clarification stated that “conversion therapy” does not include counseling that assists an individual undergoing a “gender transition,” but instead includes counseling providing “support” toward an individual’s coping with their “identity,” including orientation.
That does not include counseling that provides assistance to people undergoing a gender transition. https://t.co/oo5xakHVM8
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) July 27, 2023
Several critics of the law have suggested that it will prohibit medical professionals from training children’s gender dysphoria or encouraging them to embrace their biological gender, instead forcing them to either choose delusion or remain silent.
As reported by The Hill, state Rep. Neil Friske (R) suggested the bill’s definition was too loose, and that it would serve to criminalize healthcare providers who are “simply upholding natural law and refusing to buy into the new age left-wing gender schemes.”
State Sen Donni Steele (R) echoed Friske’s remarks, saying, “I cannot in good faith vote for misguided legislation that potentially harms our children. Kids should not be expected to make such difficult decisions.”
“The child’s parents, in consultation with qualified medical professionals, are better qualified to make important decisions regarding a child’s development – not lawmakers in Lansing,” Steele added.
Brabec claimed that the new law, which fails to prevent therapists from encouraging children to undergo gender-changing surgeries, would help ensure kids can “express themselves without the fear or threat of damaging pseudo-psychology.”
“I can confidently say that this law will help to ensure that therapists like myself continue to do no harm in our practices while protecting the LGBTQ youth in our state,” Brabec added.
The bills were passed in the state House on June 14, 2023, by a vote of 56-23 and were passed in the state Senate on June 27, 2023, by a vote of 21-15.