We had to leave Texas, and quickly. Measures aimed at transgender minors were on the increase, so Mary reviewed the American states where her child could fully live out her identity. This is how the family packed their bags, heading to Minnesota.

“The idea of ​​the state (of Texas) betraying us in this way, I still can’t really get used to it,” Mary told AFP, sitting in a Minneapolis public garden alongside Jasper. , 16, on an unusually hot April day.

The hurt is all the more acute because Mary and Jasper – aliases they chose to protect themselves – have, like many Texans, a strong sense of belonging to their state. They miss their extended family and friends. This afternoon, Jasper, who now identifies as a boy, came over with a crossed out T-shirt with the name of his hometown, Austin.

But in Minnesota, where they settled last summer, “it feels much, much safer,” says Mary. The welcome was so warm despite the harsh winter months, the procedures for having Jasper’s first name recognized at school so simple that his mother cried with emotion more than once as she was about to leave. claws, she says.

This northern state is indeed committed to it: it will be a “refuge” for families fleeing the avalanche of legislation aimed at restricting the rights of transgender children elsewhere.

Like abortion or racism, the question of transgender minors is at the heart of the “culture wars” which are widening the gap between American states.

In areas they control, the Conservatives have gone on the offensive to outlaw transitional treatments for teenagers or ban transgender students from using the toilets of the sex with which they identify.

No student born with a male sex in the girls’ toilets, they insist, despite statistics showing no increase in aggression.

In Texas, parents have even been investigated by child protective services.

On the contrary, states run by the other camp like Illinois or California want to be “sanctuaries” for young trans people.

The local Minnesota parliament has just adopted a law guaranteeing care for trans people from elsewhere.

“We’re trying to not just say that being trans is okay, but that you can come here and be safe,” Leigh Finke, Minnesota’s first openly transgender elected official, who led the legislation, told AFP.

Because, she recalls, “the average lifespan of trans people is very low”. “We know what it means to force people not to be themselves: it’s either the coffin or the closet.”

That’s why caring for transgender minors “saves lives,” pediatrician Angela Goepferd, program director at Children’s Minnesota, a major medical center, told AFP.

Children with access to it “are less depressed, think about suicide less often and take action less often”, she insists.

Beyond the partisan divisions, which see one side accusing the other of “mutilating” children, some parents, even of progressive sensitivities, say they fear that irreversible treatments will be offered too soon to minors in full questioning about their identity. and who might later regret their choice.

According to Angela Goepferd, the surgery is “almost exclusively for people over the age of 18,” although some minors — “less than one percent of older teenagers, 16 or 17” — may have access to mastectomies ( breast removal).

Care is mostly, she says, “meeting families, answering questions, helping to see how to support a young person at school”.

“Then, for some children who are at puberty or older, it may involve medication: hormone blockers, the pill (to stop having periods), testosterone or estrogen.

With the battle between conservatives and progressives showing no signs of abating, Leigh Finke expects “thousands of families” to move to Minnesota.

Mary is aware that with her husband and Jasper, they were lucky to have the means to leave Texas. She says she knows families “who can’t and are just holding their breath.”

Jasper is still very nostalgic for his home state and can’t wait to get back there on vacation this summer, but his mother is confident about his adaptation to Minnesota.

As for herself, she continues to gasp with relief every time Minnesota passes a measure in favor of transgender people, she says.

05/26/2023 12:29:16 – Minneapolis (United States) (AFP) – © 2023 AFP