In reading the story on Gov. Tim Walz's executive order to increase access to transgender medical interventions, I was shocked to see this being promoted for children as young as 6 years old ("Walz moves to protect gender-affirming care," front page, March 9). When I was that age not long ago, I sincerely believed Santa Claus was real and birthday cake was a healthy food (apologies to any children reading this). How on Earth can we expect small children to comprehend how their bodies work, much less give even remotely adequate consent to such drastic and permanent changes to their physiology?
I'm not the only one taken aback by this. In recent years the hardly right-wing health ministries of the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden (among others) have severely restricted or even banned treatments such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery in minors. They found little reliable evidence that they actually improve health outcomes, while greatly increasing the risk of long-term conditions such as osteoporosis and infertility.
I'm all for giving those of us who struggle with their gender identity as much help and support as is needed. But please, we have lab rats for a reason. Let's let our kids be kids.
Patrick Freese, Minneapolis
METROPOLITAN COUNCIL MEMBERS
Try some elected, some appointed
The Metropolitan Council's job is to provide long-range planning for the entire metropolitan area and to balance the needs of its many jurisdictions so that we may all prosper.
A legislative proposal for an all-elected council — 17 members focused on their own constituents and needing their votes for re-election — seems inconsistent with doing this job well ("Make it an elected body," Readers Write, March 11). I, for one, am tired of a short term, not-in-my-backyard approach to major issues like transit, sprawl and a regional response to global warming.
Maybe a mix could work: some elected members balanced by appointed leaders recognized for their wisdom and ability to work toward consensus. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Richard Adair, Minneapolis
Private insurance can't do it well
Contrary to her claims, state Sen. Julia Coleman could not be further from the truth on the impact that the current DFL paid family and medical leave proposal will have on small businesses ("Free market plan does more good, less harm," Opinion Exchange, March 8). This legislation levels the playing field for Minnesota's small businesses, which make up a huge portion of private-sector jobs.
The last thing Minnesotans need is another unaffordable private insurance scheme proposed by the insurance industry. It has yet to show it can deliver on what Coleman claims in the marketplace, especially for small businesses.
While many large corporations have plans that provide paid family leave, only 13% of private sector workers have access to paid family leave. The state plan provides small businesses, which still make up a vast majority of Minnesota's private business sector, with an unprecedented opportunity to recruit and retain valuable employees and increase productivity without creating significant administrative burdens.
In rural areas, needs are higher and access to paid family leave is lower. The burden on small businesses is compounded without a state solution. Additionally, paid family and medical leave would attract and retain young families and young talent looking for these kinds of benefits to the state. Paid family and medical leave will boost our local economies up.
It's time for Minnesota to make the smart business decision and pass paid family and medical leave, leveling the playing field for the small businesses that drive Minnesota's economy forward — because all Minnesotans deserve the freedom to care for themselves and the people they love, and they should not have to sacrifice food on their plate, health in their body or a roof over their head to have it.
Rebecca Waggoner, Minneapolis
If the paid leave bill passes, there will be some unintended consequences. My wife had hours cut until she quit at a past job for being pregnant. One of my employers also wouldn't hire a qualified woman because she had too many kids. Small-business owners will simply pass on hiring women if they even suspect they are planning a family. It is illegal, but you can't prove it. For many business owners with 10 or fewer employees, you almost can't blame them for not hiring somebody who may not be there for months out of the year. Sure, you could sue an employer who does these things, but most normal people have no time or money for that. There needs to be a carveout for small businesses or there will be fewer women in the workforce.
Matt Laszlo, Fridley
I am a member of Main Street Alliance and owner of Downtown Dogs, a dog day care and boarding center in downtown Minneapolis.
In 2011, my wife suffered a massive stroke and was hospitalized until her death six weeks later. At the time, I was a senior executive with a major Twin Cities employer. I was able to step away from my daily responsibilities and spend those final weeks with my wife without fear of losing my job or not being able to pay my bills.
I now own a small business with 30 employees. I pay them well, provide paid time off and fully paid health insurance. Despite this, many of them live paycheck to paycheck. Few could give up a week's pay — let alone six — to care for a family member or themselves.
Over the years, several have faced that difficult situation and choice. In the absence of a public program, I gave them paid time off. We spread their hours and responsibilities across the remaining employees with significant increases in overtime and labor costs.
With a universal paid family and medical leave program, my employees and I would chip in a small amount to ensure our stability when we need extended time off to care for ourselves or a loved one. This bill saves costs for true small businesses and invests in our local economy. After what small businesses went through the past few years, it is time to invest in us by passing this vital safety net.
Ralph Bernstein, Minneapolis
What reform actually looks like
In the past week the Star Tribune has published two above-the-fold, front-page stories ("Judge: Juvenile plea deal must stand," March 9, and "Anger over leniency for teens in killing," March 8) about a plea deal for two teens in a Brooklyn Park killing, followed by letters to the editor complaining that new Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty is actually fulfilling her campaign pledge to follow data-based best practices in criminal charges ("That was a mistake," March 9, and "Off to a troubling start," March 10). It's clear the newspaper intends to stir up opposition to Moriarty, against whom the newspaper repeatedly railed during last fall's campaign. Was there ever a similarly placed headline for Moriarty's predecessor, like, "County attorney chooses to decrease public safety with adult charges"?
In this case it was, according to charges, a 15-year-old boy who shot the victim, urged on by her ex-boyfriend. If you don't think 15-year-old boys are rash, impulsive and easily manipulated, you haven't met a large enough sample. Moreover, study after study has found that incarceration of minors with adults leads to increased recidivism; prison doesn't rehabilitate, it hardens. I'm astounded that people continue to (and continue to be led to) believe, against all evidence, that "tough on crime" policies such as adult charges for minors will solve community violence. The U.S. simultaneously has some of the highest rates of incarceration and homicides in the world. (Of course, we wouldn't want to increase economic and educational support for impoverished communities, the surest way to reduce crime.)
Moriarty's predecessor as county attorney was "tough on crime," and yet here we are, decrying high rates of criminality. Moriarty is working to change those conditions, using actual data to inform her decisions. I'm ready for an improvement in Hennepin County public safety. Are you?
Teresa Sutton, Minneapolis