State Capitol Building of Michigan in Lansing
State Capitol Building of Michigan in LansingISTOCK

A bill approved by the legislature of the state of Michigan, HB 4474, criminalizes deliberate 'misgendering,' using pronouns other than those preferred by the subject, for the purpose of intimidation.

According to the new bill, the perpetrators are "guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000".

A draft of the bill reads:"'Intimidate' means 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 refers to a person's "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression", and states that the deliberate use of the wrong gender designation will be defined as a criminal offense.

In Canada, too, "gender identity or expression" has been included in the criminal law and an offense against it is defined as a "hate crime". Under the law, in certain circumstances the incorrect use of a gender pronoun may be considered a hate crime.

Fox News reports that opponents of the bill s on the First Amendment right to free speech in the United States constitution. "The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class.’ This opens up numerous issues when it comes to the courts and the continued weaponization of the system against conservatives," State Rep. Angela Rigas said of the bill.

She continued, "We saw similar concerns when they wanted to pass blocks on ‘conversion’ therapy. It seems Dems want to be in the business of telling people how to think."

The bill was passed by a 59-50 vote in the state legislature, and will now move to the state Senate. Should the Senate approve it, governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign it into law.