On Trans Day of Visibility, Rep. Leigh Finke reflects on first year in Legislature and what’s ahead

A woman holds a skateboard in front of a capitol building
Rep. Leigh Finke is the first transgender lawmaker elected to the Minnesota Legislature.
Ben Hovland | MPR News 2023

DFL Rep. Leigh Finke of St. Paul has had a busy first year as a legislator and her second year is set to build upon the work of the last.

Finke was the author of the Trans Refuge Act, which was signed into law last spring by Gov. Tim Walz. She says it was a “rallying moment for trans people both in Minnesota and outside.”

But it won’t end there.

“The promise of security is an ongoing promise,” Finke said. “If we’re going to take care of you, we’re going to need to continue to do that.”

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She is working with the Queer Caucus to pass bills that will ensure families who do decide to move to Minnesota for health care can be comprehensively supported in finding work, housing and mental health care.

Also on her agenda is preventing a ban on displaying rainbows.

“Just the sight of something like that for a young queer person … that’s a very important thing,” she said.

For Transgender Day of Visibility, however, Finke simply plans to celebrate.

“I want to let everyone know that to be trans is to be given a wonderful gift and everyone should be invited to celebrate whether you are trans or not.”

Finke and others celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility at the state Capitol building on Wednesday, but the nationally recognized day is March 31.

For the full conversation with Rep. Finke, click play on the player above.