The Potluck

Walz signs executive order reaffirming right to gender-affirming care in Minnesota

By: - March 8, 2023 2:26 pm

Gov. Tim Walz hands Hildie, a trans girl who testified in support of the Trans Refuge Bill, the pen he used to sign an executive order protecting access to gender-affirming care in Minnesota. Photo by Grace Deng/Minnesota Reformer.

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday signed a mostly symbolic executive order reaffirming the right to access gender-affirming care in Minnesota for trans and gender non-conforming people. 

“In this state, hate has no home,” Walz said at the signing while surrounded by Minnesotan families with trans children and gender-affirming care providers. “In this state, love and acceptance is what we preach.” 

The order will direct state agencies to ensure people seeking gender-affirming care in Minnesota will not face legal repercussions. That includes out-of-state people seeking care — state agencies will not be allowed to cooperate with other states where gender-affirming care is criminalized. 

The order also directs state agencies to refuse approval of health plans that do not cover gender-affirming care and to investigate any complaints about denial of gender-affirming care. 

The executive order comes amid a slew of legislation in GOP-controlled states barring access to gender-affirming care for trans and gender non-conforming people, especially minors. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in 2022 to investigate families for child abuse if they helped their their trans children receive care. In Florida, a recently introduced policy would allow courts to remove children from a parent’s custody if they are “at-risk” of receiving gender-affirming care.

“Many states are asking their people — their queer people — to find two spaces that are comfortable: the closet or the coffin. We are saying we are not going to accept that in Minnesota,” said Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul.

Finke, the first openly trans lawmaker in Minnesota, drew connections between a right-wing media personality, Michael Knowles, saying “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life” to past persecution of LGBTQ people, such as the Lavender Scare in the 1950s and the apathetic response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. 

“We cannot be eradicated,” Finke said. “You cannot take a population out of existence — let alone one as tremendous and fabulous as ours.” 

Walz called on the Legislature to pass Finke’s “Trans Refuge Bill,” which would seek to protect people who travel to Minnesota seeking gender-affirming care from legal repercussions in the state they traveled from. 

Finke said she is in talks to move the bill to a vote on the House floor. Chief author of the companion bill in the Senate, Sen. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, said she is treating the bill as an “emergency action.” 

Walz said the anti-trans legislation being introduced and passed in other states has prompted him to start planning travel to other states in order to provide an “anti-bullying” perspective.

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Grace Deng
Grace Deng

Grace Deng was a reporting intern with the Minnesota Reformer. They studied legal studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. The Seattle native has previously been a statehouse intern with USA TODAY Network Ohio and an editorial fellow with Washingtonian Magazine.