ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House was moving Thursday toward strengthening the state’s protections for children and their families who come for gender-affirming care by making Minnesota a “trans refuge state,” bucking a national backlash against transgender rights.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order two weeks ago to protect the rights of people from Minnesota and other states to receive gender-affirming health care in the state. The bill on which the House was slated to begin debate Thursday night covers much of the same ground, but supporters said a statute would provide stronger, more permanent protections. Passage was expected.
The chief author of the House bill is Democratic Rep. Leigh Finke, of St. Paul, the state’s first openly transgender legislator. She was named Woman of the Year for Minnesota by USA Today on Sunday for her activism on behalf of trans youth. Her bill is meant to protect trans people, families and care providers from a range of legal repercussions for traveling to Minnesota for gender-affirming care. ...
Gender-affirming care includes a wide range of social and medical interventions, including hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgery, though doctors who work in the field say such surgeries on minors are very rare. ...
House Republicans held their own news conference before the debate to denounce the bill as misguided. Rep. Peggy Scott, of Andover, said the bill “undermines parental rights, and most concerningly, has zero guardrails to protect our kids.”
Minnesota’s Catholic bishops, who were at the Capitol Thursday to lobby the governor and lawmakers on a variety of issues, strongly oppose the trans refuge bill. Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester said in an interview he told Walz that Pope Francis instructed bishops to “stand against the gender ideology.” He said they worry about the long-term repercussions of young people making decisions that could permanently affect the rest of their lives.
“Making Minnesota basically a sanctuary state for those that want this kind of surgery, we think that’s moving it way too fast,” the bishop said. He added that they worry that Catholic doctors, nurses or health care institutions could be obligated to provide gender affirming care.
A similar bill is awaiting further action in the Minnesota Senate after getting a hearing last month. The chief Senate author, Sen. Erin Maye Quade, of Apple Valley, said in an interview Wednesday that she expects a floor vote there soon. But she said she’s still working to make sure it has the necessary support in the Senate, where Democrats hold just a one-seat majority.
Read the complete article from The Associated Press.