Court extends intimidation crime to transgender victims

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DETROIT — A Michigan law that prohibits intimidation based on gender covers people who are transgender, the state Court of Appeals said Thursday.

The court ruled in the case of a transgender woman who was shot in the shoulder after being confronted by a man at a Detroit gas station.

The man “engaged in harassment and intimidation of the complainant based on her gender. He showed her a loaded gun and threatened to kill her, causing her to fear for her life,” judges Michael Gadola and James Redford said.

Michigan law makes it a crime to maliciously harass another person because of race, color, religion, gender or national origin. Physical contact is another factor to consider.

The alleged acts by Deonton Rogers were “gender-based within the ‘traditional’ understanding of that term, and harassing someone on the basis of their male gender — whether perceived or actual — falls within the prohibitions of the statute,” the court said.

Judge Deborah Servitto wrote a separate concurring opinion. The court reinstated an ethnic intimidation charge against Rogers.

“This is a huge win for the protection of the transgender community,” Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

Defense attorney David Cripps said he was reviewing the decision and considering his next steps.

Rogers had won an earlier ruling from the appeals court. But the Michigan Supreme Court told the court to take another look at the case after a 2020 opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court about employment protections for gay and transgender individuals.

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