LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bigotry is bad for business, and dishonesty is bad for politics

Published 10:30 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

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Dear editor,

Rep. Brad Paquette’s letter to the Leader in support of his recent introduction of bills which make administering gender-affirming care a felony in Michigan is a great example of what is wrong with politics in Michigan, and indeed, throughout the country. There is no room for rational discourse, honest debate, or compromise.

Rep. Paquette has introduced bills which would make gender-affirming care and treatment felonies. Gender-affirming care, pharmaceutical and surgical care for minors who are identified by their family and physicians as needing this type of treatment, can be life-saving and life-enhancing for persons who suffer from some of the highest rates of suicide, depression and anxieties. There are also risks associated with this treatment, as there are for many complicated and intensive treatment of rare disorders, and there should be guidelines for gender-affirming care. Rep. Paquette’s discourse and his legislative work on trans care, however, takes the low road of duplicity and damages the ability of parents and doctors to give much needed care to minors.

Paquette cites a trend in Europe, new restrictions on procedures to treat gender disorder with surgery and drugs which block puberty, to justify his bills to ban such treatment in Michigan. First, it is most ironic that Paquette turns to this European trend to justify his actions, while ignoring other European health care trends, such as government run health care systems, freely available abortion care, strict price controls on drugs, etc. Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands and England all have national health care systems run by their government.

Restricting surgery and drug protocols is, in reality, rationing health care, certainly not something Rep. Paquette is going to write into his laws. The new restrictions in those countries put limits on these treatments for children under age sixteen; Rep. Paquette’s bill puts the age at 18, and makes these treatments felonies, which no European country does. The European countries limiting gender-affirming care allow for exceptions, under strict protocols; Rep. Paquette shows no tolerance for any especially difficult or complicated cases—surgery and puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria on anybody under the age of eighteen is a felony. Period. Like life-threatening pregnancies, those that can will have to leave Michigan for treatment. Or die. Or live a terribly depressing and anxious life.

Rep. Paquette dismisses charges of bigotry from Democrats and his opponents with his purportedly rational discourse, even suggesting “physical action” as a proper reaction to the charge of bigotry. Charges of bigotry don’t silence the anti-trans, anti-treatment folk; in fact, these straw man charges are worn like badges, held up as trophies. “Me thinks the [Rep.] protesteth too much” (apologies to the Bard). But yes, it is bigoted to always come down in favor of government interference in personal health care decisions for women and queer folk, and against government interference in markets or corporate operations. Prove them wrong, Rep. Paquette. Sit down with the other side and compromise, make allowances. Europe did.

Jim Pedersen
Cassopolis, Michigan