Montana governor signs bill saying trans people don’t legally exist

Hundreds gather in Love Park in Philadelphia in response to the Trump administrations memo defining gender as an unchangable biological characteristic. October 23, 2018.
A transgender rights rally in Philadelphia. Photo: Shutterstock

Last Friday, May 19, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed a bill that legally erases trans and nonbinary identities.

S.B. 458 says that a person’s sex can be only male or female and that they are defined based on gamete size and chromosomes. The law says that one’s sex cannot be changed and that the “subjective experience of gender” is not important for the application of the law.

“And this cruel legislation is the epitome of that blind extremism – a far-reaching bill written by lawmakers who can’t even articulate its implications,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana president and CEO Martha Fuller, who said the bill is part of Republicans’ “most disgraceful, heartless, and targeted attacks” on LGBTQ+ people, told HuffPost.

“Simply put ― this disgusting legislation purely seeks to harm the people of Montana.”

The law’s text defines “female” as “a member of the human species” with “XX chromosomes and produces or would produce relatively large, relatively immobile gametes, or eggs, during her life cycle and has a reproductive and endocrine system oriented around the production of those gametes.” It says that “male” means “a member of the human species” with “XY chromosomes and produces or would produce small, mobile gametes, or sperm, during his life cycle and has a reproductive and endocrine system oriented around the production of those gametes.”

The bill attempts to account for intersex people – people whose bodies at birth do not fall into either category – by tacking on the statement that “an individual who would otherwise fall within this definition, but for a biological or genetic condition” is female or male to each definition, although it does not say how one determines whether someone would be male or female in a hypothetical situation if their existing, physical bodies don’t meet the state’s definition of either male or female. That is, it doesn’t say how a person can meet the biological and genetic requirements of either definition and simultaneously have a “biological or genetic condition” that makes them not fit under either definition.

Gianforte signed the bill even as his own nonbinary and gay son David Gianforte pleaded with him not to, calling the anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed by the state legislature this year “immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.”

In April, Gianforte signed a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, S.B. 99, which bans reversible puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, which have been shown to be life-saving for transgender youth. Republicans were so offended that out transgender state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) opposed the bill and said that Republicans would have “blood on your hands” if they passed it that they blocked her from speaking on any bills or even stepping foot on the state house floor for the remainder of the legislative session.

During a debate on the legislation, Montana state Rep. Kerri Seekings-Crowe (R) said that she would rather have her daughter die by suicide than let her transition. 

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