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Families Fleeing States Banning Gender-Affirming Care Might Get Aid in MN

The goal of the legislation is “to help create a soft landing” for such transplants, State Rep. Leigh Finke said.

LGBTQ+ activists rally before the Minnesota Senate introduces the Trans Refuge Bill at the State Capitol Building in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on April 21, 2023.

Minnesota lawmakers are considering allocating $1 million to aid families who are moving to the state to seek gender-affirming care.

The proposed legislation, HF 3386, would designate $1,000,000 in 2025 for a grant to the PFund Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing community and providing aid to LGBTQ organizations and individuals through grants and scholarships. According to the bill, these funds would “support LGBTQ individuals and their families who are in the process of relocating to Minnesota or who have recently done so” in order to access gender-affirming care protections in the state.

The goal of the legislation is “to help create a soft landing” for such transplants, Rep. Leigh Finke (D), the state’s first openly transgender legislator and author of the bill, said during a committee hearing last week.

As of October 2023, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law estimates that over 100,000 transgender youth between the ages of 13 and 17 reside in any of the 22 states where gender-affirming medical care is banned. Many transgender youths and their families have been forced to flee their home states over such care bans.

“When you uproot and move your whole family, sometimes you need a little help getting into your new life,” Finke said.

Minnesota is among the 14 states that have enacted a gender-affirming “shield” law, safeguarding access to care by shielding doctors and parents who prescribe or seek medical treatment for transgender youth.

Last April, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) enacted the shield bill into law, fortifying existing state legislation that upholds the legality of access to abortion and gender-affirming care. “In Minnesota, we’re protecting rights — not taking them away,” Walz said on social media.

According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), this means that “if a person travels from a state where transgender healthcare is banned and receives that care in another state, a ‘shield’ law can protect the recipient and/or provider of that healthcare against civil or criminal charges from the state where healthcare is banned.”

The safeguarding of gender-affirming care for transgender youth from other states has resulted in a rise in patient numbers in Minnesota. For instance, Children’s Minnesota’s gender health clinic experienced a 30 percent increase in inquiries from new patients in 2023. Additionally, one community survey conducted by PFund Foundation within the initial six months after the shield law was enacted identified 150 people who intended to “seek refuge” in the state. Approximately one-third indicated they would be accompanied by family members.

“The passage of the Trans Refuge law in 2023 was monumental,” the report says. “It made Minnesota a beacon of hope for LGBTQIA2S+ people across the country.”

Advocates assert that the grant HF 3386 would distribute to Pfund would not only help families who move to the state but would also facilitate the training or recruitment of over six new health care providers. Aaron Zimmerman, the foundation’s executive director, approximates that this would lead to an additional 250 patients being treated each month.

“This is a little money in one of the very, very few places in the entire country that is looking out for this community,” Finke said.

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