USA Today’s MN ‘Woman of the Year’ advances trans bills at the legislature

As part of its Women of the Year project, USA Today is choosing one person from each U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to honor during March’s Women’s History Month.

Today, the newspaper announced its honorees. For Minnesota, first-term state Representative Leigh Finke (DFL-St. Paul) was chosen. As reported by the St. Cloud Times,

Leigh Finke has always fought to change the world for the better.

Growing up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Finke was always interested in politics but never planned to be a political candidate herself. In November after her first bid for public office, Finke became the first transgender legislator appointed to the Minnesota House of Representatives after winning 81% of the vote in her district.

The Times adds,

After transitioning in 2017, Finke said politics began hitting “a lot closer to home.” Witnessing national and coordinated attacks against the rights of transgender people and others in her community motivated her to be the representation Minnesota was lacking.

The state’s Lt. Gov., Peggy Flanagan, took to Twitter today to praise Finke’s award:

Rep. Finke has already made great strides in promoting her cause at the legislature. Finke is chief author of HF 146, which would transform Minnesota into a “trans sanctuary state.” That bill has passed through committee and is awaiting action by the full House.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order earlier this month covering much of the same ground and drawing national attention.

Finke’s HF 1655, adding gender identity to the list of protected classes under civil rights law, is also awaiting final action in both chambers of the legislature.

HF 2280, Finke’s “Gender-Affirming Rights Act” (GARA) has already moved through its first committee stop.

Finke has also introduced HF 2607, requiring health insurance companies to cover gender affirming care.

All this and Woman of the Year honors only three months in.