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MI Court Of Appeals Says Ethnic Intimidation Statute Protects Transgender People

Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The Michigan Court of Appeals says the state law that punishes intimidation based on gender protects transgender people from threatening behavior.

The case centers on a victim who is a transgender woman. She was threatened, taunted, and shot in the shoulder during an altercation at a gas station.

The Wayne County Prosecutor challenged the decision to quash the intimidation charge. The case made it up to the Michigan Supreme Court before it was returned to the appeals court.

The appeals court says the fact that the victim is transgender is encompassed by the language of the intimidation law, which covers threats based on “gender,” as well as – among other things -- race, religion and national origin.

From the decision:

Here, the preliminary examination testimony established probable cause to believe that defendant acted maliciously and with specific intent to harass the complainant on account of her gender. Defendant’s words and conduct were predicated on his belief that the complainant was biologically male.

So the appeals court reinstated the intimidation charge and sent it back to the lower court.

“I could not be more pleased that the Court of Appeals has reinstated these charges and recognized that transgender citizens are now officially included under the Ethnic Intimidation Act,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. “This is a huge win for the protection of the transgender community.”

This decisioncomes as a petition campaign is also trying to add LGBTQ protections to the state’s civil rights law, which is separate from the intimidation statute.

Updated: August 5, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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