SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Wednesday, March 9, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order meant to protect those seeking to receive gender affirming care in the state.

At the center of the order is the fact that Minnesota remains a state where access to gender-affirming care is legal at a time when other states, such as South Dakota, have acted to restrict such care.

With the order, Walz instructed all state agencies to work to protect people or entities providing, assisting, seeking or obtaining gender affirming health care in Minnesota. As part of this, Minnesota will refuse to assist states which seek to penalize gender affirming health care services, will not recognize judgements from other states terminating or restricting parental rights based on the parent or guardian seeking or obtaining gender affirming care for their child, and will not comply with subpoenas issued by states seeking information about a person or their child who travels to Minnesota for gender affirming care.

The order also will allow the state to deny requests to arrest or extradite persons in Minnesota charged with crimes in another state related to the provision of gender affirming care, unless the act would also be illegal in Minnesota.

On Thursday, Erin Reed, a transgender woman and an advocate for trans rights who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the nation, lauded the action by Walz, writing on her Substack that Minnesota’s order makes it one of the safest states in the nation for those looking to leave states which have or are in the process of criminalizing gender affirming care.

In addition to tracking legislation and writing about LGBTQ+ issues, Reed has also produced a map showing state ranging from the safest to the least safe in terms of protecting transgender rights.

On the map, updated March 4, before Walz’ order, Reed has Minnesota marked as a state with low risk within the next election cycle, also noting that it has potential to enter a lower risk category, joining states with the strongest protections, such as Illinois, Colorado and California, among others.

On this same map, South Dakota is marked in dark red, denoting a state with the worst active anti-trans laws.

On February 13, 2023, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed HB 1080, an act that bans the provision of certain kinds of gender affirming care to transgender minors in South Dakota.

Under HB 1080, physicians may not provide the following to minors seeking gender affirming care:

  • any drug to delay or stop puberty;
  • testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone, in amounts greater than would normally be produced endogenously in a healthy individual of the same age and sex;
  • any sterilizing surgery, including castration, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, orchiectomy, penectomy, and vasectomy;
  • surgery that artificially constructs tissue having the appearance of genitalia differing from the minor’s sex, including metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty;
  • remove any healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue.

The bill does have a carve out allowing surgeons to operate on children born intersex.

The bill also requires any physician in the process of providing gender affirming care to a minor to medically de-transition them by December 31, 2023.

Any physician found to violate this law in South Dakota would have their license revoked.

Reed, in a statement to KELOLAND News on March 8, criticized South Dakota’s new law.

South Dakota’s healthcare ban is particularly cruel for transgender youth. It gets between parents and doctors and demolishes a parent’s right to guide the medical care of their children. It tells doctors how to medically detransition the trans youth under their care. This will be an incredibly traumatic experience for transgender youth, many of whom have been on their medication for years. It will force these youth to develop characteristics associated with their assigned sex at birth in front of all of their peers. It will result in higher suicide rates and extreme mental anguish among the population it targets. It is atrocious a cruel bill like this made it into law in South Dakota.

Erin Reed

For some physicians working in South Dakota, Minnesota’s executive order could offer some level of protection through its provisions blocking access to information about those who provide or receive gender affirming care within Minnesota’s borders.

Physicians licensed to practice medicine in both states would be able to provide care in Minnesota with a reduced risk of losing their license in South Dakota, as Minnesota would not be required to turn over information regarding the care they provide to licensing boards in South Dakota.