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LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Failure to use a gender-confused person's preferred pronouns in the Wolverine State could come with a hefty fine or even jail time.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4474 on June 20, which, in effect, could make the use of biologically accurate pronouns for so-called transgender people a felony "hate crime" punishable by either a fine up to $10,000 or a prison sentence up to two years — or both.
The proposed legislation would amend the state's penal code so that "a person is guilty of a hate crime if that person maliciously and intentionally"
(a) Uses force or violence on another individual
(b) Causes bodily injury to another individual
(c) Intimidates another individual
(d) Damages, destroys, or defaces any real, personal, digital, or online property of another individual without the consent of that individual [or]
(e) Threatens, by word or act, to do any of the actions described [above].
The bill defines intimidation as a "willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened."
The bill further defines "gender identity or expression" to mean "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."
Leftist media outlets are working to downplay the rampant negative reactions the bill is receiving from conservative-leaning outlets and on social media.
For example, The Detroit News published a piece on Tuesday titled "Michigan Lawmakers Aren't Trying to Criminalize Pronoun Use." The author of the article noted, "House Bill 4474 doesn't even contain the word 'pronouns,' much less set out any sort of legal framework to criminalize misidentifying of gender or disagreeing with an individual's preference to be referred to as he, she or they."
Though the author is technically correct, the bill's broad text opens the door to the possibility of prosecuting a speaker for not using a gender-confused individual's preferred pronouns if the scientifically correct diction causes the gender-confused individual to "feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened." And there are sundry instances of transgender people reacting with great emotion — that is, feeling a strong negative impact and taking great offense — in response to being described with biologically accurate words.
For example, in 2019, a viral video showed a biological man going berserk in a store when the cashier and others apparently used the word "sir" instead of "ma'am."
Consequently, disquiet about the bill's future interpretation and implementation is by no means unreasonable. If one only needs to feel offended to prosecute pursuant to the bill in its current form, then using non-preferred pronouns could easily be treated as a hate crime in Michigan should the bill become law.
So articles such as Main Wire's "Michigan House Passes Bill to Make Hurting Someone's Feelings a Hate Crime" are largely valid. In fact, the aforementioned article highlights that there is precedent for punishing failure to use a person's preferred pronouns in Democrat-run states.
"Misgendering is already prohibited under California state law in some cases," the article reports. "In February of this year, Shake Shack was ordered to pay a former employee $20,000 after he was repeatedly misgendered by co-workers."
Despite the attempts of The Detroit News and other outlets to minimize the plain undertones of H.B. 4744, the majority of reactions to the bill by nonpartisan media outlets and on social media are judiciously unfavorable.
Should the proposed legislation become law, the implications are an obvious threat to the Catholic Church in Michigan, since the Church has clear teachings on the binary nature of the human race and on the sinful nature of bearing false witness, which is what using one's preferred pronouns ultimately amounts to.
None of Michigan's seven dioceses has published any statement on or done anything public regarding H.B. 4744. The Michigan Catholic Conference has remained silent as well.
Church Militant reached out to the Michigan Catholic Conference for clarification but received no response as of press time.