MI Republican Introduces Anti-Trans Prisoner Bill


Michigan Representative Thomas Hooker last week introduced a bill that would ban gender reassignment surgery for prisoners, and possibly all gender reassignment surgeries funded through tax payer assistance programs.

Last Wednesday, in a move that largely went unnoticed, Rep. Hooker sent out a statement under the banner of ‘Moral Values Bill Introduced in the House’ saying that he had introduced a bill that would prevent tax-payer money being used for gender reassignment surgery.

From the press release:

“State dollars come from taxpayers and they are a limited resource right now,” said Hooker, R-Byron Center. “Paying for a prisoner’s sex change is not something people want done with their money.”

The issue is one that the American Family Association has listed among its legislative goals for the current session.

House Bill 4889 has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Currently, Michigan law allows for gender reassignment procedures for prisoners where there is a pressing need for reassignment surgery in accordance with the diagnosis and treatment of Gender Identity Disorder.

Hooker has admitted he knows of no instance in the state where this law has actually been used but argues that it is enough that there is potential for it to happen to warrant action, saying in a recent interview: “It’s something that’s kind of a common sense thing. I’d much rather be proactive than reactive. It’s definitely something we want to prevent.”

Equality Michigan, as quoted by The Michigan Messenger, has hit back saying this is an example of Hooker pandering to Gary Glenn, the head of the anti-LGBT American Family Association of Michigan:

Representative Hooker’s bill is ill-conceived and is yet another attack on the gay and transgender population of Michigan by this Legislature. To the best of my knowledge, only one other state — Wisconsin — has ever passed such a bill and the federal courts struck it down as unconstitutional. Lawmakers should not be in the business of legislating medical care and should not be substituting its judgment for that of the medical profession in such matters. For Representative Hooker to dance to the tune played by Mr. Glenn, the head of an organization labeled as a hate group by the Southern Law Poverty Center is the very antithesis of the “common-sense” he purports to be exercising. I extend an offer to Mr. Hooker to meet with me and discuss this issue in greater detail.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court ruling striking down a Wisconsin law that banned tax-payer funded gender reassignment-related treatment for transgender prisoners. In the court ruling the judge said: “had the Wisconsin legislature passed a law that DOC inmates with cancer must be treated only with therapy and pain killers, this court would have no trouble concluding that the law was unconstitutional. Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no valid penological purpose and amounts to torture.” You can read more on that here.

Others have slammed Representative Hooker for introducing this legislation at a time when the state needs to focus on job creation.

There are also concerns reportedly expressed by Jay Kaplan, the staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, that the language of the bill could ban gender reassignment surgery through other public assistance programs because the legislation does not specifically state how the new provision should be applied. This would be a blow to Michigan’s trans population who, like all trans people throughout the U.S., continue to suffer disproportionate levels of poverty and joblessness.

Related Reading:

GLAAD Scores TV Networks on LGBT Inclusion

APA Unanimously Supports Gay Marriage

Police Warn Potential Pattern in DC Trans Shootings

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Donna B.
Donna B6 years ago

I have to agree here. NO tax payer money should be spent on this. They can have the surgery when they are released and pay for it themselves.

Scott L.
Scott L6 years ago

Sorry, I don't need to pay for Gender reassignment surgery for any prisoners. Its ludicrous. With at LEAST 9.1% of the US population is out of work and people demand that the States & FEDS (which are financially strapped already) cough up money to make sexually confused criminals feel BETTER about themselves. Screw that. That money needs to be used in our educational infrastructure.

But here's an alternative, the LGBT community can have as many car washes, bake sales and other charity activities as possible and BANK that money for when the 1st prisoner stands up and demands gender reassignment.

timothy m.
timothy m6 years ago


David Anderson
David Anderson6 years ago

Jayna W.

5:17AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

I can remember hearing stories my parents told about Hitler and the Nazi's during World War II. Hitler hated Jews, gypsies and homosexuals. He would have his soldiers round them up and put them on trains and sent to concentration camps where they would be tortured and murdered. He executed millions of these people.

There is a big difference between exterminating demographic groups and refraining for paying for elective surgeries. The state's responsibility is to treat ailments which threaten their life and health in teh conventional sense, not changing their physical attributes to the inmates' satisfaction.

Marianne C.
Marianne C6 years ago

While I feel sympathy for trans men thrown into prison, and I certainly support keeping them apart from the general population for their own safety, I don't believe that paying for their reassignment surgery is the public's responsibility.

It's not the same thing as needing back surgery, or a hip replacement, or a hysterectomy. We don't pay for liposuction of breast enhancement, or for plastic surgery of other kinds -- sexual reassignment is a different issue is some ways, but in others, it's the same as any other self-improvement elective surgery. I don't object to anyone having the surgery, and feeling better and happier for it. My objection is to paying for it with tax dollars when so many other people are losing vital health care and food programs because of cuts in other areas. While you shouldn't be singled out for abuse because you're trans, neither should you be singled out for special treatments and procedures.

Barbara Dahms
Barbara Dahms6 years ago

When I first saw this article I forgot MI was Michigan. I was thinking it was Mississippi. When I realized my mistake I could scarcely believe we were speaking of Michigan. What Moral Values?
Oh. yes, Fred K, do you realize what DOMA is? The Defense of Marriage Act. You must be for that. We are going to have to start using words again.

Tery G.
Tery G6 years ago

Typical republican, wasting our money on their social agenda for a problem that exists only in his mind. Why do we keep electing people that have signed "pledges" of their loyalty, not to the state or to the people that elected them, but to special interest groups?

Nancy Roussy
Nancy Roussy6 years ago

Why should these criminals receives those surgeries and treatments free of charge when many people who have done no crime and needs these same surgeries and treatments have the help of noone? Why is it that the rights of criminals are often more important than the rights of people who are not criminal? This crap is absolutely disgusting! Criminals should have no rights and they should not have a free ride to anything!

Robert B.
Robert B6 years ago

Mr. Hooker has prostituted himself for the sake of easy votes from the ignorance sector. Mr. Hooker should be addressing REAL PROBLEMS. Like saving and creating descent jobs. But I guess that is too hard for him. Instead he goes for the low hanging fruit. Typical hypocritical political hack.