Minnesota lawmakers have advanced legislation introduced by a transgender representative that could strip custody from parents who do not support their child changing genders.
The bill, HF 146, moved forward with a vote of 68-62, along party lines.
The bill says that the state can claim temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child if they are in the state and “the child has been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care.” It is meant to prevent law enforcement from removing a child from parental custody based on an order made outside the state.
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Leigh Finke of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, who is transgender.
“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving health care,” Finke told reporters ahead of debate on the bill, according to a report from Fox News. “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.”
Fox News explains, “this legislation is meant to ensure that children undergoing gender transition procedures allowed under Minnesota law cannot be governed by child protection laws of other states. It’s a direct response to neighboring South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a law banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments, and sex-change operations for transgender individuals under the age of 18.”
However, conservative legal experts and advocacy organizations are warning that the way that it is written means that Minnesota parents can lose custody of their children if they do not consent to sex change procedures, puberty blockers, or hormones.
“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,” Bob Roby, a licensed attorney in Minnesota with more than 30 years experience in family and juvenile court, told the network.
“This kind of court power has a long-standing precedent in Minnesota for keeping children safe. 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,” Roby continued. “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.”
The bill is now being sent to the Minnesota state Senate, where Democrats have a one-seat majority.