STREET. PAUL, Minn. — STREET. PAUL, Minn. (AP) —
Tim Walz signed an executive order Wednesday protecting the rights of LGBTQ people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender-affirming health care, while criticizing the tide of other states rolling back the rights of transgender people.
“We want all Minnesotans to grow up feeling safe, valued, protected, celebrated and free to exist as their authentic selves,” Walz said. “Protecting and supporting access to gender-affirming healthcare is essential to being a welcoming and supportive state.”
LGBTQ rights advocates say Republican-led states across the country are trying to erase the legal existence of trans people and restrict the expression of those who are non-binary, genderfluid or who perform in drag. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 150 bills addressing the rights of trans people have been introduced in other states. Walz singled out neighboring South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem signed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors last month.
“I don’t know what a group of people are thinking about Pierre who decides to make life miserable and more dangerous for people, but that’s not going to happen in Minnesota,” Walz said to applause from a room full of LGBTQ activists and their supporters. . supporters
Walz’s executive order parallels legislation awaiting a plenary vote in the state House to make Minnesota a “trans safe haven state” by protecting trans people, families and care providers from a variety of repercussions. for traveling to Minnesota for gender-affirming care, which includes a wide range of medical and social interventions.
While sponsors said they are optimistic about passage in the coming weeks, the governor said accelerating trends against trans rights in other states make it urgent for him to immediately impose protections.
The bill is written by Rep. Leigh Finke, D-St. Paul, Minnesota’s first openly transgender legislator. It would prohibit the state from enforcing court orders or child protection laws from other states if they interfere with a person’s right to seek gender-affirming care in Minnesota.
The importance of the governor’s order to LGBTQ people across the country cannot be overstated, he said.
“The lives of trans and gender-expansive people in this nation are under attack,” Finke said. “There is a large-scale movement in this nation against trans, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender-expansive adults and children that seeks to make our community disappear.”
A separate bill banning so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ children and vulnerable adults passed the Minnesota House of Representatives last month and is awaiting a Senate vote.
Conservatives said the governor’s order will harm vulnerable children rather than help them.
“People struggling with their gender identity deserve compassionate care that helps them feel comfortable in their bodies, not cripples them,” John Helmberger, executive director of the Minnesota Family Council, said in a statement.
Elsewhere, recent efforts in Oklahoma to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans children and pass other anti-trans laws have led to heated protests. The Arkansas Senate on Tuesday gave its initial approval to criminalize transgender people who use toilets that match their gender identity. The governor of Tennessee signed a law last week that prohibits drag performances from being performed in public or in front of children.
“All children deserve to thrive, we can agree on that, but for transgender youth, prosperity and access to life-saving, gender-affirming care is under threat in state legislatures across the country,” said Dr. said Kelsey Leonardsmith. “He is under threat from the bullies who hide behind junk science and the bullies who abuse their positions of power to hurt these precious children.”
Leonardsmith runs clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul that serve transgender youth, including families who have moved from restrictive states. She said they provide “evidence-based care in accordance with international guidelines” and work closely with families to ensure that children and adolescents receive appropriate care according to their stages of intellectual and physical development.
“And there’s no one else in that room making those decisions,” he said.