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Transgender lawmaker silenced by Republican speaker of Montana House

Helena, Mont. – Montana’s House Speaker on Thursday refused to allow a transgender lawmaker to speak about the bill on the House floor until he apologized, saying lawmakers would have “blood on their hands” if they supported the ban. Gender-affirming medical care for transgender youthMember of Parliament Dr.

Rep. Zooey Zephyr, who was deliberately misgendered by a conservative group of lawmakers after Tuesday’s comments demanded her censure, said she would not apologize, sparking a standoff between the first-term state lawmaker and Republican legislative leaders.

The Montana GOP is refusing to let me speak for the rest of the legislative session.

I was elected to represent my 11,000 MPs. No amount of silencing tactics will stop me from advocating for my community, my district and all Montanans.

My lights are on and I’m ready to talk. pic.twitter.com/zr9NFbLB1M

— Representative Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 21, 2023

Speaker Matt Regier declined to acknowledge Zephyr Thursday when he sought comment on a bill to put a binary definition of male and female into state code.

“It’s up to me to maintain decorum, dignity and integrity here on the floor of the House,” Regier said Thursday. “And any representative that I don’t think can do that will not be recognized.”

Regier said the decision came after “multiple discussions” with other lawmakers and has had similar issues before.

Democrats objected to Regier’s decision, but the House Rules Committee and House party-line votes upheld his decision.

“Hateful testimony has no place on the House floor,” Republican Rep. Caleb Hinkle, a member of the Montana Freedom Caucus, said in a statement.

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Zephyr said he stands by what he said about the consequences of banning essential medical care for transgender youth.

“When bills come out targeting the LGBTQ community, I stand up to defend my community,” Zephyr said. “And I choose my words with clarity and precision and I speak to the real harm these bills bring.”


A screengrab from the Montana Public Affairs Network’s April 18, 2023, live broadcast of a debate on the state House floor shows Rep. Joey Zeffir addressing fellow lawmakers about a bill that would ban youth gender-affirming medical services.


Regier declined to recognize Zephyr Thursday when he called to talk about another bill, unrelated to LGBTQ+ issues, and seeking to defund hotels that shelter victims of human trafficking.

“The speaker is refusing to allow me to participate in the debate until I retract or apologize for my remarks during the floor debate,” Zephyr said.

Montana’s Republican Party is refusing to allow me — a transgender representative — to speak on any bills. It is fundamentally undemocratic.

My light is burning, and I am ready to speak for those who elected me. pic.twitter.com/pdijLUQsCc

— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 20, 2023

The issue came to a head Tuesday when Jeffery, the first transgender woman to hold office in the Montana Legislature, referred to the floor session’s opening prayer when she told lawmakers that if they supported the bill, “I hope there will be a call the next time you bow your head in prayer, look at your hands.” blood.”

He made similar comments when the bill was first debated in the House.

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton rebuked Zephyr on Tuesday, calling his comments inappropriate, disrespectful and uncalled for.

Later, the Montana Freedom Caucus issued its condemnation in a letter that stated its “commitment to civil discourse” in the same sentence in which it deliberately misgendered Zephyr. Caucus also misgendered Zephyr in a tweet while posting the letter online.

“It is disappointing that the Montana Freedom Caucus would stoop so low as to misgender me in their letter, which demonstrates their contempt for the dignity and humanity of transgender people,” Jeffery said in a statement Wednesday.

Jeffery spoke passionately and directly to transgender Montanans in February to oppose a bill to ban minors from attending drag shows.

“I have a request for you: Please live,” Zephyr then said, assuring them that he and others would continue to fight and challenge the bills in court.

The legislature also passed a bill stating that misgendering a student or calling a fellow student a dead name is not illegal discrimination, unless it rises to the level of bullying.

At the end of Thursday’s House session, Democratic Rep. Marilyn Marler said the House majority allowed Zephyr to speak on the floor.

“This agency is denying the representative … the opportunity to do his job,” Marler said.

Majority Leader Vinton, before adjourning, said: “I will let the organization know that the representative … has every opportunity to rectify the situation.”

The meeting was held again on Friday afternoon.

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