While eight states have passed laws this year to protect children from gender transition procedures, including puberty blockers, cross sex-hormones and body-altering surgeries, Minnesota lawmakers voted March 24 to advance legislation that would establish its state as a “trans refuge” for children in states where such procedures are illegal.
The Democrat-controlled Minnesota House passed HF 146 in a party-line vote, 68-62. Newly elected state Rep. Leigh Finke, the state’s first transgender lawmaker who was recently recognized by USA Today as Minnesota’s “Woman of the Year,” introduced the proposed legislation.
The bill is meant to ensure that children undergoing gender transition procedures allowed under Minnesota law cannot be constrained by child protection laws of other states.
The proposed law seems to be a direct response to neighboring South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a law earlier this year banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments, and sex-change operations for transgender individuals under age 18. Also, this year seven other states, including Utah, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and West Virginia, have banned gender transition procedures for minors.
Meanwhile, state legislatures in Missouri, Nebraska, Montana and Indiana are expected to ratify laws banning gender transition procedures on minors. And at least six more states have bills to protect minors from gender transition procedures that have passed at least one chamber. Arkansas, Alabama and Arizona were the first states to pass laws banning gender transition procedures for minors over the past two years.
“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving health care,” Finke told reporters ahead of debate on the bill. “Withholding or delaying gender-affirming care can have a dramatic impact on the mental health of any individual who needs it. Rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse are dramatically higher in transgender and gender-expansive individuals who lack access to care.”
But conservative groups and family law attorneys warn that the proposed legislation is deceptively biased against parents who refuse to provide their children with trans-enabling care.
“The most insidious aspect of this bill is the language that adds children who are being denied ‘gender-affirming care’ (defined as everything from therapy to hormone blockers, to transition surgery) to what amounts to the definition for a child ‘in need of protection or services’ in Minnesota, allowing the courts to take ‘emergency custody’ of the child,” said Bob Roby, a licensed attorney in Minnesota.
Roby, with more than 30 years of experience in family and juvenile court, has studied HF 146 extensively in preparation to testify before legislative committees. He said that the way the bill is written, categorizing a child being denied transgender care alongside abuse, turns laws meant to protect children on their head.
“This kind of court power has a long-standing precedent in Minnesota for keeping children safe,” Roby told Fox News Digital in an email. “When a child is at risk of being harmed by a parent or custodian, the State has immediate authority to remove and protect the child from harm. Without this, there would be no way to protect children in those situations. To add children who are being denied ‘gender affirming care’ to the definition of children in need of this kind of drastic emergency action is obviously unwarranted.”
In an effort to protect children as well as parents who don’t support trans-enabling care, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the Parents Bill of Rights (H.R. 5) last week by a vote of 213-208.
If enacted, the bill would grant parents the authority to review their children’s curriculum, meet their child’s teacher twice a year, as well as express any concerns at school board meetings.
“The Parents Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives is an attempt at guarding the relationship between parents and children when schools seek to usurp or divide,” Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand.
According to Kilgannon, the Parents Bill of Rights is “an acknowledgement of God’s design for the wellbeing of children that they are born into a family with a loving mother and father, and the state’s only role is to support that family, with intervention being necessary in only the gravest of circumstances. Secret gender support plans are the exact opposite of that Biblical approach,” she said.
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