Minnesota becomes a refuge for transgender children facing conservative laws in other US states

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Transgender youth and their families have increasingly found themselves at the heart of a contentious nationwide debate in the United States, with parents like Mary and her 16 year old child, Jasper, seeking refuge in states that offer them protection and support. Their tumultuous journey started in Texas, but due to mounting concerns for their child’s well-being, the family soon relocated to the northern US state of Minnesota. With an outpouring of support in Minneapolis, they found solace and refuge miles away from their friends and families back in Texas.

Minnesota public officials have made a concerted effort to make their state a safe haven for transgender children whose rights and access to medical care are being threatened across the US. As such, states like California, Illinois, and Minnesota have declared themselves “sanctuaries” for transgender youth.

Minnesota recently passed a “trans refuge” bill ensuring legal protection for transgender people coming to the state for medical care. Leigh Finke, the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker and sponsor of the initiative, said…

“We’re trying to not just say it’s okay to be trans, but you can come here and be safe.”

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This is in stark contrast to the conservative atmosphere prevalent in some Republican-controlled states, which have restricted access to bathrooms for transgender people and limited certain medical treatments, reported Bangkok Post.

Access to healthcare for transgender youth is crucial, according to Angela Goepferd, program director for gender health at Children’s Minnesota, one of the largest pediatric health systems in the US. Gender-affirming care significantly reduces anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among transgender children. While surgical treatment is a complex issue and generally reserved for people over 18, healthcare providers should focus on “meeting with families, answering questions, and helping support young people in school, their community, and their families.”

With policies continuing to diverge between Republican and Democratic-controlled states, Finke expects “thousands of families” to seek refuge in Minnesota. Mary feels fortunate to have had the means to relocate her family, as she fears for those families who cannot escape states with hostile policies towards transgender youth.

While life in Minnesota presents new challenges, it brings newfound hope and acceptance for families like Mary and her child, Jasper…

“Every time Minnesota does something that’s trans-affirming, or trans-welcoming, it still kind of takes my breath away”

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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