Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law on Thursday, which establishes the state as a "sanctuary" for children, including those from other states, seeking gender-altering surgery without their parents' consent. The new legislation grants state courts temporary emergency jurisdiction over any child in Minnesota who has been abandoned, is in need of protection from abuse, or is unable to obtain "gender-affirming health care."
The law defines gender-affirming health care as "medically necessary health care or mental health care that respects the gender identity of the patient, as experienced and defined by the patient." It specifically mentions puberty blockers, as well as chemical and surgical procedures "to align the patient's appearance or physical body with the patient's gender identity."
"In Minnesota, we're building a state where everyone is safe to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence and discrimination," said Democrat Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan after the signing of the Conversion Therapy Ban, Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, and Trans Refuge Bill. Governor Walz, also a Democrat, expressed support for the legislation, stating, "Freedom is on the march in Minnesota. Decency is on the march in Minnesota. Compassion is on the march in Minnesota."
The bill's author, Democrat state representative Leigh Finke, the first transgender person elected to the Minnesota Legislature, said in March, "In the staggering rise of anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQIA2S+ legislation by extremist Republicans, Minnesota is a beacon of hope for trans and gender-expansive children and their families. The passing of the Trans Refuge bill will send a strong message to the trans community that they are loved, supported, and protected here in our state."
However, the bill has faced strong criticism from some, such as Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover), who argues that the legislation undermines parental rights and lacks safeguards to protect children. Scott said, "House File 146 allows children, regardless of age, to receive radical medical treatments."
In March, Flanagan spoke at an event where Governor Walz signed an executive order directing state agencies to protect "gender-affirming" health care, including surgery. Flanagan urged parents not to dissuade their children from seeking such health care, which drew ridicule from conservatives. While wearing a shirt reading "Protect Trans Kids" with an image of a dagger, Flanagan told the crowd, "Let's be clear: this is life-affirming and life-saving health care. When our children tell us who they are, it is our job as grown-ups to listen and to believe them. That's what it means to be a good parent."