Children’s Minnesota awarded the author of the state’s new “trans refuge” law with its annual “Children’s Health Hero award.”
The organization announced Tuesday that Rep. Leigh Finke, DFL-St. Paul, was this year’s recipient of the award, given annually “to legislators who champion child health issues at the Minnesota Capitol.”
Finke, who is transgender, was the chief author of a bill to make Minnesota a “safe haven” for children seeking puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender-reassignment surgeries. Known as the “trans refuge” bill, legal experts who work in the family court system warned that the bill could result in parents losing custody if they don’t consent to “gender affirming health care” for their children.
“The insidious thing about this bill is it puts children who are being denied these treatments that are permanent and will sterilize the child for life … they’re now in the same category as kids who are being abused or neglected,” Minnesota attorney Robert Roby previously explained.
“They’re anticipating that people will bring kids into the state for this kind of treatment. The only way that they could do that without interference by the parents is to create this ‘emergency custody’ situation,” he added.
The bill also states that no subpoena from another state will be recognized in Minnesota if it relates to a law “designed to interfere with an individual’s right to receive gender-affirming health care.”
Finke’s bill will directly benefit Children’s Minnesota, which offers a “gender health program” to provide “comprehensive care for transgender and gender diverse kids.” The hospital proudly provides puberty blockers, hormones, and menstrual suppression treatments to children.
Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, the director of the program, said in a September 2020 TED Talk that children as young as three can know they are transgender.
Finke shares similar views. In a 2020 book, Finke wrote that children are the “only authority” on gender identity.
“Being trans is the best. We get to create ourselves outside of any system that wants to dictate who we are. It is freedom unlike any other and you have access to it,” Finke said during a December 2021 rally. “Anyone who tells you differently than this, whether it is a teacher or a pastor or even your parents, is wrong.”
Children’s Minnesota also praised Finke for advocating for a conversion therapy ban in Minnesota.
“At a time when young children are exploring who they are, and where they fit in society, we need to advocate and fight for their right to discover those identities with dignity and compassion,” Finke said in a press release. “We will continue to persevere past the hate and perpetuation of violence to fight for our equal right to love our partners openly, live authentically, and be unapologetic about who we are. It is not enough to just exist, we deserve to live, love, and experience the joys of resistance and life.”