Minnesota ‘trans refuge’ bill passes first hurdle: ‘They are loved, supported, and protected’

Minnesota activists wave flags and signs of LGBTQ+ pride.

A Minnesota bill looking to provide transgender people with refuge from states preventing gender-affirming care has just passed its first hurdle.

Minnesota bill 146 passed with a close vote of 68-62 after a legislative hearing on Friday (24 March) to be moved onto the Senate floor.

If fully enacted into law, the bill would turn the midwestern state into a “refuge” for trans US citizens who live in states that deny gender-affirming care.

It reads that any US state which authorises a bill “to remove a child from the child’s parent or guardian because the parent or guardian allowed the child to receive gender-affirming health care” would be against Minnesotan policy.

This effectively means that any out-of-state bill attempting to relinquish the parental rights of families who sought treatment in Minnesota would be nullified.

The bill scraped by after an hour of debate on the topic, including speeches from lawmakers, trans people and activists.

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Leigh Finke speaking to members of a protest line.
Leigh Finke introduced the bill to the Minnesota House in January. (Getty)

“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,” DFL representative Leigh Finke said in a statement.

“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.”

Finke, who is the first elected transgender Minnesotan representative, authored and introduced the bill to the House on 9 January.

She said during the Friday debate that lawmakers “have a responsibility” to create a safe space for marginalised communities to “live their fullest authentic lives”.

“This is generations of work from a community that has always existed,” she added.

“[The trans community] is not made up, is not created from social media, is not an invention of a modern era that simply demanded to created.”

Finke added that she was “very upset” by the rhetoric employed by Republicans who have routinely described gender-affirming care as “mutilation”.

“You want to know what the result of gender-affirming care is?” she said while referring to comments made by Republican Representative Walter Hudson, “It’s just me. It’s the people who are here – it’s trans people.

“We’re here, you can see us. Is it so hard to see [us] that you have to ban gender-affirming care, you have to attack us?

“You cannot get a more innate personal example of what gender-affirming care means than to speak to a trans person.”

The bill is set to hit the Senate floor on 27 March, where it will be debated and eventually voted on.