Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first “transgender woman” to serve in the Montana Legislature, has been barred from speaking on the state House floor because of the “hate-filled testimony” delivered about a bill that’d ban transgender medical care for minors.
“The only thing I will say is, if you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” Zephyr said during a floor debate on Tuesday.
Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr told lawmakers they would have “blood on their hands” if they banned gender-affirming medical care. Republicans have refused to let the transgender lawmaker speak on the chamber floor until she apologizes for her remarks. https://t.co/ei8sBvd2bz pic.twitter.com/jB8wsOHKWj
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 22, 2023
Zephyr’s Republican colleagues were not pleased.
“House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, a Republican, immediately called Zephyr’s comments inappropriate and disrespectful. That evening, a group of conservative lawmakers known as the Montana Freedom Caucus demanded her censure,” the Associated Press reported.
“Hate-filled testimony has no place on the House floor,” caucus member Rep. Caleb Hinkle said, according to Fox News.
“The Montana Freedom Caucus demands Representative Zooey Zephyr of Missoula’s House District 100 be censured by the House for attempting to shame the Montana legislative body and by using inappropriate and uncalled-for language during a floor debate over amendments concerning Senate Bill 99 — to ban sex changes of minor children,” a press release from the caucus states.
“This kind of hateful rhetoric from an elected official is exactly why tragedies such as the Covenant Christian School shooting in Nashville occurred. Combined with former Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson’s recent calls for ‘jihad’ and a ‘fight to the death,’ there is unmistakable evidence of a desire for some to engage in violence over political beliefs. This must stop,” the caucus added.
Our Caucus is calling for the immediate censure of transgender Rep. Zooey Zephyr after his threatening and deeply concerning comments on the House floor earlier today. #mtpol pic.twitter.com/fDggbLKsJS
— Montana Freedom Caucus (@MTFreedomCaucus) April 19, 2023
When Zephyr tried to speak up again two days later, Montana state House Speaker Matt Regier, a Republican, blocked him.
“Regier said he took specific issue with Zephyr telling other lawmakers they should be ashamed of their votes on SB 99. He said he would see how things ‘unfold,’ but that essentially he will not recognize Zephyr on the floor until she apologizes for her remarks,” according to the Montana Free Press.
“It is up to me to maintain decorum here on the House floor, to protect the dignity and integrity. And any representative that I don’t feel can do that will not be recognized,” the speaker said in his own words.
But Zephyr is refusing to apologize. With his Democrat colleagues and the media predictably supporting him, he’s now doubling down.
“I want to be clear: no amount of silencing tactics will deter me from standing up for the rights of the transgender community. This year, I have lost friends to suicide, and I have listened to the heart-wrenching stories of families dealing with suicide attempts, trans youth fleeing the state, and people being attacked on the side of the road — all due to legislation like this,” Zephyr said in a statement.
“I will not apologize for speaking with clarity and precision about the harm these bills cause. Montana Republicans say they want an apology, but what they really want is silence as they take away the rights of trans and queer Montanans,” the transgender added.
The Montana GOP is refusing to let me speak for the rest of the legislative session.
I was elected to represent my 11,000 constituents. No silencing tactics will deter me from advocating for my community, my district, and all Montanans.
My light is on and I am ready to speak. pic.twitter.com/zr9NFbLB1M
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 21, 2023
On Friday, Regier reportedly once again barred Zephyr from speaking.
As for the public, some say Zephyr is in the right, while others say he’s completely in the wrong. Conservatives for their part all say he’s in the dead wrong.
When you lie about science and reality, why should anyone take you seriously? #TransWomenAreConMen
— Simon Coates (@SimonSidleman) April 21, 2023
Dude – act appropriately, apologize for your inappropriate words, and all is back to normal. Cut the temper tantrum
— Gerald Beuchelt (@beuchelt) April 21, 2023
Maybe you and other men like you should stop trying to push your way into women and girls’ private spaces. Just a thought.
— MrsLibertyBelle pronouns: bad/bitch (@MrsLibertyBell1) April 21, 2023
You were way out of line. The actions of the other reps have nothing to do with your genitalia and you know it.
— Raicilla USA (@RaicillaU) April 21, 2023
Well, your integrity went out the window long ago! I doubt someone pretending to be the tooth fairy would be taken seriously either! Good luck in life dude!
— Rick Brashear (@tortuga89r) April 21, 2023
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