Walz signs executive order protecting gender-affirming care in Minnesota
The governor took the action as many states across the U.S. consider bills that would restrict doctors from providing minors with hormones or surgery to help people express their gender identities.
ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, March 8, signed an executive order directing state agencies to take action to protect access to gender-affirming procedures, therapies and hormone treatments for transgender people in Minnesota.
Many states across the U.S., including Minnesota’s neighbors, North Dakota and Iowa, are considering bills that would restrict doctors from providing minors with hormone treatments or surgical procedures to help people express their gender identities. Last month, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed a bill banning gender-affirming medications and procedures for minors.
While the Minnesota Legislature is considering bills that would protect access to gender-affirming treatments, Walz said he directed his administration to act ahead of any bill reaching his desk because of what he said was the issue’s urgency.
“Every single day is a risk to these children and the people involved,” Walz said. “And while we're waiting for the process to work its way through the Legislature, we're making sure that we put up … the protections that we can offer now.”
Walz signed the order at the Governor’s Reception Room at the Minnesota Capitol on Wednesday, surrounded by advocates and lawmakers backing the protections.
Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul, Minnesota’s first openly transgender woman lawmaker and sponsor of legislation to protect access to gender-affirming medical treatments, said Walz’s order is an important step to protect health care that will save lives, and called the recent national rise of anti-trans legislation an effort to “eradicate” transgender people from public life.
“You can believe whatever you want. I'm not trying to infringe on your rights,” Finke told reporters at the order signing. “Just acknowledge that your belief about me should not in any way interfere with my ability or anyone’s ability to access our care.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony was assistant Ramsey County Attorney Hao Nguyen, the parent of a 6-year-old transgender girl, who said his child would be able to worry less knowing that Minnesota will protect the ability to fully express one’s gender identity as other states move to take the right away.
“All she wants is to be protected, all she wants is to be loved, all she wants is to be cared for,” Nguyen said. “All she wants is not to have to be woken up in the morning by her parents to say … it's come to Minnesota.”
Opponents of gender-affirming care say children are too young to make fully informed choices about medical treatments that could have irreversible lifelong consequences. Criticism often comes from religious groups and Republicans.
But supporters say medication and surgical procedures can save lives by allowing people suffering from gender dysphoria — where a person’s body’s sex characteristics do not match their gender identity. The American Medical Association opposes states' interference with treatments, and the American Academy of Pediatrics also supports treatments.
Walz’s order, which goes into effect in 15 days, directs agencies to protect providers of gender-affirming services and their patients. Minnesota will not help other states that try to deprive people of access to gender-affirming care and refuse requests to extradite individuals accused of violating other states’ laws restricting hormone treatments and other procedures for minors.
The health, commerce and human rights departments are directed to investigate and take action against “unfair or deceptive practices” related to the denial of “gender-affirming health care services.” The health department is directed to prepare a report about the “safety and effectiveness of gender affirming health care and its public health effects.”
A bill to ban restrictions on gender-affirming treatments is ready for a vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives, and there’s similar legislation sponsored by Sen. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, in the Senate.
It’s just one bill moving through the Capitol this session aimed at protecting LGBT rights. Last month, the Minnesota House passed a ban on conversion therapy for minors in Minnesota, placing the bill one step closer to the governor’s desk.
Conversion therapy is a practice that attempts to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, which has come under fire for its negative impacts on LGBTQ youth and lack of evidence that it works.
Walz has already signed an executive order restricting conversion therapy.
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