June 23, 2021
Thoughtful Action Extends Beyond Pride Month
Michigan Attorney General
As Michigan’s first openly gay Attorney General – and the first to hold a statewide office in the history of our state – it is an honor for me to represent 10 million residents as our state’s top law enforcement officer. I also take great pride in recognizing what my position means for the millions of residents who identify as LGBTQ+. Elected leaders should be a diverse reflection of the constituents we serve and I remain steadfast in my commitment to representing the LGBTQ+ community to the best of my ability.
That is why I am proud to announce the new Transgender Policy for the Michigan Department of Attorney General that took effect at the beginning of June. This policy, which can be viewed on the Michigan Department of Attorney General website, is an important and proactive step to reinforce our commitment to equal treatment and protection under the law – not just for members of my staff, but for anyone who interacts with this office.
One of the policy’s purposes is to address the needs of transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming employees of the Department by clarifying how the law should be implemented in situations where questions may arise about how to protect the legal rights and safety of all employees.
For instance, the Department will change an employee's official record to reflect a change in gender upon presentation of a court order or current government issued identification card issued in the employee's new name and/or gender.
Additionally, the policy makes clear it is a violation of the guidelines for an employee performing their work duties to discriminate against or harass any transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming individual.
Another purpose, equally significant, is to strengthen the expectation that employees of the Department will not just treat colleagues with dignity and support, but will treat all transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals who interact with the Department with the same respect.
This policy means being sensitive to the proper pronouns of someone involved in a court proceeding. It also reinforces the importance of supporting a colleague who has confided their decision to transition.
The Department’s Transgender Policy also acknowledges those who may transition on the job. Employees receiving treatment as part of their transition may use sick leave under applicable employer regulations.
It is my hope other agencies and offices across our great state, and this country, will use this policy as a blueprint to enact their own inclusive policies in the workplace and beyond.
While this inclusive mindset has been at the forefront of my approach to this office, a policy is a tangible commitment to ensuring all communities and people our department represents are treated equally, while also supporting and uplifting the staff who proudly serve this state. I know policies such as this can have a real impact on increasing trust and cooperation between communities and law enforcement agencies. It’s this type of thoughtful action that is critical in creating an environment where all individuals feel respected, welcomed and appreciated.
As Pride Month comes to a close and the celebratory events end, it's important to remember that fighting for inclusive treatment is year-round work, which includes seeking justice for those who are targeted because of who they are.
Shortly after I took office, I launched the Department’s Hate Crimes Unit. Hate itself is not a crime and our civil liberties protect the right to speak about even the most terrible of things, but when a criminal offense is committed against a person or property and it is motivated by an offender’s bias against a particular group, my office will act. This unit makes clear that senseless acts of hate and terror have no place in Michigan.
Throughout my term, I have worked to be an advocate for the residents of our state and prioritized resources in the Department of Attorney General to reflect that advocacy. This includes prioritizing investigations such as our Clergy Abuse, Flint Water and, most recently, Boy Scouts of America investigations.
We also launched the nation’s first, state-wide conviction integrity unit shortly after I took office. Last month, Gilbert Poole became our first exoneration after spending nearly 32 years in prison.
When I ran for this seat in 2018, I did so to be the People’s Attorney. That includes all Michigan residents, from all walks of life and backgrounds, who deserve an advocate willing to protect them and fight for them. I’m proud to serve the people of Michigan and I’m proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community in this role as Michigan Attorney General.
Dana Nessel is the 54th Attorney General of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @dananessel. To learn more about the important work the Michigan Department of Attorney General is doing visit its website or follow the department on Twitter @MIAttyGen.