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Trans Refuge Bill Passes off the House Floor

Friday, March 24, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - This morning, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF 146, the Trans Refuge bill, with a 68-62 vote. The bill, authored by Representative Leigh Finke (DFL-Saint Paul), prevents out-of-state laws from interfering in the practice of gender-affirming health care. 

“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,” said Rep. Finke. “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. The trans community has been a part of human history for centuries and we refuse to stand by and watch Republican extremists deteriorate and eradicate us from society. I want every young trans person to know they are valued, their lives matter, and they are exceptional for who they are and who they will become.”  

Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, chief education officer, and medical director of the Gender Health program at Children's Minnesota spoke in support of the legislation. 

“Gender-affirming care is healthcare. It is specialized healthcare provided by teams with training and expertise in evidence-based care just like any other pediatric specialty,” said Dr. Goepferd. “Today, thanks to the leadership of Rep Finke, we have sent a clear message to those in Minnesota and beyond that all kids deserve access to the healthcare they need to thrive.”  

Legislators in at least 24 states have introduced legislation that would restrict or outright prohibit trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, a wide range of social and medical interventions to affirm one’s internal gender identity that may include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, voice therapy, and surgical interventions. Governors in eight of those states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, and South Dakota – have signed such restrictions into law. 

Gender-affirming care is recognized as safe, evidence-based, and medically necessary by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Endocrine Society, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, the American Psychiatric Association, and the United States Department of Health & Human Services. Research indicates that withholding or delaying gender-affirming care can have dramatic impacts on the mental health of individuals who need it; trans and gender expansive people who lack access to this care face higher rates of depression, suicide, and substance abuse, while those who receive care have dramatically improved health outcomes. 

“All people deserve to be loved, accepted, and valued for who they are. We want to be clear that we stand with our trans community, that we support them, and we will protect them in Minnesota. Gender-affirming care is life-affirming care,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “We are continuing to work to make Minnesota a more welcoming place and inclusive place.” 

“We are seeing an ugly, hateful wave of legislative proposals across the country that extreme politicians are using to turn children into political props and divide us,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “But here in Minnesota, we are going to stand up and be an inclusive state where all are welcome, and all are respected for who they are. I’m grateful to Rep. Leigh Finke for her leadership and I’m honored to be her colleague.”   

In response to this wave of legislation targeting an already marginalized community, lawmakers across the country have introduced similar “trans refuge” bills which afford protections to individuals traveling from out-of-state in search of gender-affirming care. 

Gender-affirming care saves lives. Withholding or delaying gender-affirming care can have dramatic impacts on the mental health of individuals who need it. Rates of depression, suicide, and substance abuse are dramatically higher in transgender and gender-expansive individuals who lack support and access to care. Gender-affirming healthcare practices have been demonstrated to mitigate lower rates of mental health issues, build self-esteem, and improve an individual's overall quality of life. 

You can watch the presentation and testimony of the bill here.