I am one of the founders of an organization called Project RAI. I am also a childcare provider for a local nonprofit. We are an ally organization and work with youth ages 3-14 to affirm their identity, help them make connections, and allow them to gather with other children who might be exploring their gender identity.

I urge everyone to contact Governor Burgum and demand a veto on HB 1298. The children I work with need to know their caregivers love and accept them. They thrive in an environment of acceptance which allows them to be the true individual they are inside and out. These children will grow up to be kids who are secure with who they are, have high self-esteem, and reduce the risk of suicide. One affirming adult in a trans kid's life reduces the risk of suicide by 40%. As an organization that works with trans youth, we cannot underscore enough how dangerous this bill is to youth of North Dakota. Signing this bill tells trans youth that they are not valid; their existence and their identity is something politicians can vote on, that they are no more important than a bill related to roadwork or a building project. Our youth are our future, and we need them to know they are important to North Dakota.

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One big problem North Dakota has had in the past has been trying to keep younger people in this state. The way we legislate here does not make North Dakota an attractive place for young people to move to. North Dakota is seen as a place of religious extremism instead of an opening and welcoming place as the ads depict. Why would youth and young people stay here when it is clear they are less than human and unwanted. Minnesota looks pretty great right about now.

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Our state legislators seem to love the idea that spending funds on preventable lawsuits to hold up some religious idealism is the way governing should go here. It is incredibly frustrating to see the types of bills and the warped priorities coming out of Bismarck; there are so many other things our legislators could be focusing their time on; I mean, they only get 80 days every two years. It's truly ridiculous.

If you believe that trans kids are valid, and their existence matters, please contact Burgum and urge him to veto HB 1298.

Kristin Nelson lives in Fargo.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.