A bill recently passed by Michigan’s House of Representatives would make causing someone to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened based on their “gender identity or expression” a hate crime.
In Michigan, a hate crime is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or a fine up to $5,000, or both.
Instead of or in addition to imprisonment and fines for hurting someone’s feelings, if the defendant consents, a court could require the offender to complete a period of community service “intended to enhance the offender’s understanding of the impact of the offense upon the victim and the wider community.”
The bill, House Bill 4474, passed 59 to 50 in the Michigan House of Representatives on June 20.
The proposed legislation states that if an individual “maliciously and intentionally” intimidates another individual based on any of the characteristics listed below, they would be guilty of a felony hate crime.
How exactly the bill defines “Intimidate” can be seen below, which states that if someone simply feels terrorized, threatened, or frightened by another’s conduct, they can press charges.
The definition does exempt “constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.”
The bill defines “Gender identity or expression” as “having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth,” which would include things like alternative names and pronouns.
Journalist Greg Price suggested in a tweet that HB 4474 becoming law would result in the misuse of pronouns becoming a felony in Michigan.
Misgendering is already prohibited under California state law in some cases. In February of this year Shake Shack was ordered to pay a former employee $20,000 after he was repeatedly misgendered by co-workers.
“California law prohibits intentional misgendering in the workplace,” said CA Civil Rights Department Director Kevin Kish in a statement after the settlement. “Intentional misgendering and other forms of discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression can be stressful and traumatic.”
On June 23 the Maine Senate shot down a bill sponsored by Rep. Katrina Smith (R-Palermo) that would have required parental approval for a public school employee to use a name or pronoun other than a child’s given name or pronoun corresponding to the gender on the child’s birth certificate.
Rep. Smith’s bill, LD 678, was one of many pieces of parental rights and school transparency legislation killed by Democratic lawmakers this session.
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