Trans Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) protested the state’s latest attack on trans healthcare yesterday with a scorching rebuke to her fellow lawmakers.
“If you are denying gender-affirming care and forcing a trans child to go through puberty, that is tantamount to torture, and this body should be ashamed,” Zephyr admonished legislators from the floor.
“If you vote yes on this bill, I hope the next time you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.”
The remarks sent shockwaves through the Montana state capitol and the Republican conference behind the discriminatory legislation.
“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 statement posted shortly after the debate read.
A tweet sharing the release doubled down on the lawmakers’ transphobia when they misgendered the rep, calling for Zephyr’s immediate censure “after his threatening and deeply concerning comments.”
Zephyr was unbowed.
“When I said there is blood on their hands, I meant it,” Zephyr posted to Twitter. “All legislators (& the Gov) received a letter from an ER doctor who dealt w/ a suicide attempt from a trans teen who cited OUR LEGISLATURE as a factor in their suicidality. ‘My state doesn’t want me,’ is what they said.”
S.B. 99 would deny gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth and force those undergoing treatment to leave the state or detransition. The bill had already passed both the Montana State Senate and House when Zephyr took to the floor with her impassioned speech, as amendments proposed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte were being debated.
In a letter accompanying the amendments, Gianforte wrote of trans youth and adults, “I understand their struggles are real, and my heart goes out to them. I firmly believe that, as with all of God’s children, Montanans who struggle with their gender identity deserve love, compassion, and respect.”
The amendments, however, only strengthen the prohibitions denying medically-necessary treatment for trans minors.
Gianforte went on to argue that “‘Gender-affirming care’ for children is Orwellian Newspeak, a seemingly innocuous, even solicitous phrase that masks its true nature of permanent, invasive, life-altering and surgical procedures, performed on children whose young minds and bodies are still developing.”
In her remarks, Zephyr took aim at the governor for his own doublespeak.
“Gender-affirming care is not ‘Orwellian Newspeak,’ as it says in this letter,” Zephyr said. “It is accepted by every major medical association.”
While Gianforte’s amendments define gender as binary, Zephyr added, “You could not legislate binary sex any more than you could legislate that the Earth is flat.”
“Intersex people exist, trans people exist, and this bill doesn’t change that.”