Republicans, who dominate the Montana House of Representatives voted to formally punish transgender Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr.
Zephyr has been blocked from speaking since last week when she told supporters of a bill to ban gender-affirming care that when they bowed their heads in prayer, she hoped they would see
blood on [their] hands.”
Zephyr says she was alluding to studies that show that transgender health care can reduce suicidality in youth. She said during the debate Wednesday,
I have fielded calls from families in Montana, including one family whose trans teenager attempted to take her life while watching a hearing on one of the anti-trans bills.
So, when I rose up and said
‘there is blood on your hands’
I was not being hyperbolic.
If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, all you are doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression.”
The formal punishment bans Zephyr from attending or speaking during floor sessions. She will only be allowed to vote remotely in the remaining days of the legislative session. It’s a lesser punishment than expulsion, which was also on the table.
Monday, seven people were arrested during a demonstration in the House gallery in protest of Zephyr being blocked from speaking for three consecutive days.
The tension in the Montana House has been building for a while. Zephyr said she ran for office after Republican lawmakers passed legislation restricting the rights of transgender Montanans in 2021.
Now in office, she’s taken a very strong stance against bills to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors, to ban minors from attending drag shows and to define sex as binary in state code.
Though they initially tried to have me removed from the public seating area, I am here working on behalf of my constituents as best I can given the undemocratic circumstances.— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 27, 2023
I’m talking to legislators, listening to debate, voting on bills, and fighting for democracy. pic.twitter.com/Ea8y7a48LC