ST PAUL, Minn. — With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Tim Walz made a priority of his administration clear.
"This state will protect you; this state welcomes you; this state wants you," he said.
Surrounding the governor at a press conference Wednesday was a rainbow of lawmakers, one of whom works in the politics of something that is deeply personal to her.
"It couldn't be more personal, right, when someone comes to me and says, 'We are trying to ban gender-affirming care,'" said Rep. Leigh Finke. "What they are saying to a trans person is, 'We would prefer it if you weren't here. It's not easy to hear that you are a part of the population that needs to be erased from public life."
Representative Leigh Finke is the first transgender person to serve in the Minnesota House, so when her personhood is debated time and time again, she remains steady in what she will not do.
"I will never debate my own existence," she said. "They don't need to change their minds. We can live here with our rights protected. You can believe what you want, just acknowledge that your belief about me should not in any way limit my ability or anyone else's to access our care."
Standing alongside her, a parent, who was transparent about his family.
"My partner Gretchen and I are here today because we are parents of a trans child," Hao Nguyen said.
Their child is 6 years old and she was as excited to be at a boring Capitol on spring break as any kid could be. Squirming and fidgeting her way through speeches, she was hardly aware that her existence is why her parents drove five hours Wednesday to speak publicly about her.
"It's 100 percent personal," Hao said. "The safety, happiness, of our kid couldn't be more personal."
"Asher has trusted us enough, believes in our love enough, that she has invited us in to see her whole self and if we don't love her that much the opposite would happen," Gretchen said. "We are lucky, blessed, and we love her.
So much so, they drove to the people's house to talk about her, the person, in a room reserved for talks about politics.
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