Trans Rights – MI Gubernatorial Election.

As a politically-involved trans woman, I frequently ponder about where candidates stand on Trans Rights.

I have a partner in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who will be electing a new Governor in November, so I figured it would be a good idea to ask each of the MI Gubernatorial Candidates about their positions on Trans Rights.

I contacted; Gretchen Whitmer (D), Abdul El-Sayed (D), Shri Thanedar (D), Jennifer Kerland (G), Brian Calley (R), Jim Hines (R), Richard Sills (I), Todd Schleiger (I). I could not find contact details for other candidates, though if you’re an MI Gubernatorial Candidate and are up for answering these questions then please get in touch.

I sent all of them the following email;

Dear [Candidate First Name], 

First of all, full disclosure, 

I am not a US Citizen or resident and cannot vote this year, HOWEVER my partner is, and I will be giving him your answers. 

I’m a 20-year-old trans woman from Coventry, in the United Kingdom. Over Thanksgiving last year, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Michigan so that I could spend the holidays with family. 

The 17 days I was in Grand Rapids was amazing, the community spirit was inspirational and I felt welcome. 

My question is, what will you do for trans people in Michigan, including those who visit Michigan?

As a young woman involved in politics, I look forward to reading your reply.

Best wishes, 


I’ve included their responses below and will update this page as more responses come in.

Gretchen Whitmer

March 23, 2018.


We would like to thank you for reaching out. If you’re in the UK right now we hope you keep warm with all the snow and wind forecasted! You didn’t mention how much you know about Sen. Whitmer so we are going to try to over inform you on where she stands. Gretchen has long been a fighter for LGBTQ+ rights here in Michigan. In the Senate she fought for an anti-bullying law, and fought against any religious exemptions to make sure everyone can feel comfortable being who they are. Gretchen has also sponsored legislation to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include people of all genders, identities, and sexual orientations. Gretchen drew the line when lawmakers tried to exclude transgender people from our civil rights laws. She continues this fight to this day and is prepared to take it into the governors office.

We hope this satisfies your question. If there are other areas we did not discuss as much as you would like, please let us know so we can get you all the answers you are looking for. If you feel like doing some additional reading there is a great interview from Pride Source with Gretchen here: which goes into a couple things not touched on above.

Thank you again for contacting us!


Ryan Geiser

The Whitmer for Governor Team

Abdul El-Sayed

No response yet received.

Shri Thanedar

No response yet received.

Jennifer Kerland

Hello Aimee,

So nice to hear from you. I am Jennifer Kurland’s running mate, Charin Davenport, for Lieutenant Governor. I have several friends and family members in Grand Rapids and visit there often. I just got off the phone with Jennifer and we talked about this issue and your question. My answer to your question may be attributed to us both.

As a Transgender woman and a Trans Rights activist, I can assure you that Jennifer and I will use all the tools of the Governor’s office to ensure that Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are included in our state’s civil rights law, Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

In the past I have lobbied U.S. Congress and our state legislature to include protections for all Transgender people, including those who are visiting or are threatened with deportation by ICE. In May, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission ruled that discrimination on the basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation is sex discrimination. Several state and federal courts have also ruled that discrimination based on Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation constitutes sex stereotyping and is therefore prohibited.

Jennifer Kurland and I firmly believe that Trans rights can be best protected when our civil rights law specifically enumerates protections on the basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. Our rights should not be determined by courts stacked with political appointees, but rather by the law itself.

By the way, I have a friend in the UK who lives near Bath and she worked to help establish Trans Pride in that area. That was a couple years ago. I was genuinely saddened to hear that TERFs in London took over the Pride Parade. Keep your head up, stay positive, and know that the path toward justice and freedom is often narrow and steep.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.


Char Davenport

Green Party Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan

Brian Calley

No response yet received.

Jim Hines

No response yet received.