Minnesota becomes refuge state in US for gender-affirming care

Governor Tim Walz said, “We want every Minnesotan to grow up feeling safe, valued, protected, celebrated, and free to exist as their authentic versions of themselves."

A room of people witnessing Minnesota State Governor, Tim Walz, sign an executive order protecting those seeking gender-affirming care.
Image: Twitter @GovTimWalz

While many Republican-led states across the US are attempting to eliminate trans rights, Minnesota State Governor, Tim Walz, has signed an executive order which protects those seeking gender-affirming care.

Executive Order 23-03 requires state agencies to use their power to support access to gender-affirming healthcare, and it protects healthcare providers from potential legal repercussions.

Gov Tim Walz spoke to a room of LGBTQ+ activists as he signed the order, saying, “We want every Minnesotan to grow up feeling safe, valued, protected, celebrated, and free to exist as their authentic versions of themselves. Protecting and supporting access to gender-affirming health care is essential to being a welcoming and supportive state.”


The legislation defines gender-affirming care to include medical and surgical care, and counselling. Gender-affirming care for minors may include access to reversible puberty blockers or hormone therapy, but contrary to the misinformation that has circulated, surgical interventions are not typically offered to children.

The executive order also addresses states that have restricted and criminalised trans healthcare, effectively making Minnesota a refuge for trans people and their families who travel to the state for gender-affirming treatment. Furthermore, Minnesota state agencies will not assist with investigations or comply with subpoenas that seek information about trans people who travel to Minnesota to obtain care.

Addressing South Dakota’s recent ban on gender-affirming care, Walz said, “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.”


The order further affirms that out-of-state laws that terminate parental rights or restrict parents from contacting their child because they helped them obtain gender-affirming care will not be recognised in Minnesota. This comes in response to a bill introduced in Florida that would allow the state to remove trans children from their parents’ custody. 

Minnesota’s first openly transgender legislator, Democratic Representative, Leigh Finke, stressed that the state will support trans people arriving from out-of-state. Finke told the Minnesota Reformer, “Families who have fled are already here, and many more are planning to come. We’re going to be ready to take care of them, and to provide them with the health care they need.”


Lawmakers are in the process of passing additional legislation to protect LGBTQ+ rights in Minnesota. A bill that bans so-called ‘conversion therapy’ passed in the House in February and now awaits a floor vote in the Senate.


Across the country, activists continue to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, as well as the hate and falsehoods spreading about transgender healthcare. Activists in Tennessee have organised a fundraising concert in opposition to the state’s drag ban and other anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

Irish musician Hozier is set to perform alongside LGBTQ+ musicians and allies, with proceeds from the event going towards LGBTQ+ groups, including the Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, OUTMemphis, and The Tennessee Pride Chamber.

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