On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an executive order protecting trans youth and adults seeking gender-affirming care in the state. He called it urgent work as a wave of legislation in neighboring states and around the country rolls back LGBTQ+ rights.
“We want every Minnesotan to grow up feeling safe, valued, protected, celebrated, and free to exist as their authentic versions of themselves,” Walz said. “Protecting and supporting access to gender affirming health care is essential to being a welcoming and supportive state.”
Walz called out lawmakers next door in South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a law banning gender-affirming care for minors in February.
“I don’t know what a group of people in Pierre who decide to make life miserable and more dangerous for people are thinking, but it’s not going to happen in Minnesota,” Walz said to cheers from LGBTQ+ activists and allies gathered to witness the governor’s signature.
Actions like Noem’s, the governor said, “pose a grave threat to the health” of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The executive order reads in part: “All state agencies must, to the fullest extent of their lawful authority, pursue opportunities and coordinate with each other to protect people or entities providing, assisting, seeking or obtaining gender affirming health care services in Minnesota.”
More than 150 bills targeting trans rights are moving through red state legislatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Nonbinary and gender-fluid individuals and drag performers are being swept up in the anti-LGBTQ+ campaign, as well.
In addition to Walz’s executive order, a bill authored by Minnesota’s first trans lawmaker moving through the legislature would make Minnesota a “trans refuge state,” providing protection for trans individuals and medical providers seeking or performing gender-affirming care in Minnesota.
Rep. Leigh Finke (D-St. Paul) said her bill would prohibit the state from enforcing other states’ court orders and laws if they contradict patients’ wishes.
“The lives of trans and gender expansive people in this nation are under attack,” Finke said. “There is a full-scale movement in this nation against trans, nonbinary, two-spirit and gender expansive adults and children that seeks to make our community disappear.”
A bill banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ children and adults passed the Minnesota House last month and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate.