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Michigan bans efforts to encourage kids to accept their biological sex
Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michigan bans efforts to encourage kids to accept their biological sex

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ratified Democratic legislation Wednesday banning efforts by therapists to encourage children to embrace their biological sex and/or a straight orientation. Meanwhile, the state still permits conversion therapies for children if the aim is to render them transgender or non-straight.

House Bill 4616, first introduced in May by Democratic state Rep. Felicia Brabec of Pittsfield, prohibits mental health professionals from "engaging in conversion therapy with a minor."

A corresponding amendment, House Bill 4717, defines "conversion therapy" thusly: "Any practice or treatment by a mental health professional that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behavior or gender expression or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward an individual of the same gender."

Since this definition might, on its own, implicate attempts to coax children into attempting to change their sex or embrace non-heterosexual lifestyles, the following clarification has been added:

"Conversion therapy does not include counseling that provides assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition, counseling that provides acceptance, support or understanding of an individual or facilitates an individual's coping, social support, or identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral intervention ... as long as the counseling does not seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity."

Some critics have suggested that this law will prevent health care professionals from treating kids' gender dysphoria or encouraging them to embrace the bodies they were born with, forcing them instead to either feed the delusion or remain silent.

State Rep. Neil Friske (R) suggested the definition was too broad, adding that the bills would serve to criminalize providers who are "simply upholding natural law and refusing to buy into the new age left-wing gender schemes," reported The Hill.

Republican state Rep. Donni Steele said in protest, "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."

Bill co-sponsor Brabec claimed that the bill, which does not prevent transgender conversion therapy, would help to ensure kids can "express themselves without the fear or threat of damaging pseudo-psychology," reported UPI.

"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," added Brabec.

The bills passed in the state House on June 14 with a 56-53 vote and the state Senate on June 27 with a 21-15 vote.

As a consequence of Whitmer's ratification the two bills, which take effect in October, Michigan has joined 26 other states that have enacted partial or total bans on so-called conversion therapies.

The Democratic governor indicated on Twitter that this was part of a broader effort to make "Michigan a more welcoming, inclusive place."

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