News (USA)

Rep. Zooey Zephyr sues after GOP bans her from House chamber over trans advocacy

Rep. Zooey Zephyr
Rep. Zooey Zephyr Photo: Provided by the LGBTQ Victory Fund

Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), the state’s first out transgender legislator, is suing to be allowed back into the state House after its Republican majority voted last week to bar her from entering the chamber.

House Republicans barred Zephyr from participating in floor debates two weeks ago after she accused Republicans of having “blood on your hands” for supporting a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. They then voted to prevent her from entering the chamber after she raised an inactive microphone toward protestors in the House gallery who repeatedly chanted “Let her speak!” The protestors were later arrested.

After her “blood” comment, the conservative Montana Freedom Caucus demanded that she be censured for “using inappropriate and uncalled-for language during a floor debate” — the caucus also misgendered her in its statement. Republicans claimed that, by silent standing as the protestors chanted, she threatened the chamber’s safety and decorum. However, the protesters were peaceful and didn’t access the House floor, destroy property, assault anyone, or threaten anyone with bodily harm, according to Zephyr’s lawsuit.

Since being banned from the House, her committee meetings have been canceled, and she has been voting remotely on bills while sitting on a bench outside the chamber in the state Capitol building, The Daily Beast reported. The state’s legislative session ends this Friday.

“I’m suing,” Zephyr wrote in a Monday morning tweet. Her lawsuit targets the Montana House Speaker Matt Regier (R) and the state sergeant-at-arms. The suit asks the court to reverse the Republican leaders’ penalties against her because the leaders had no “good cause” to censure her under the laws of the Montana Constitution.

“This effort by House leadership to silence me and my constituents is a disturbing and terrifying affront to democracy itself,” she added in a press release issued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the civil rights group that filed the lawsuit on her behalf.

“House leadership explicitly and directly targeted me and my district because I dared to give voice to the values and needs of transgender people like myself,” she continued. “By doing so, they’ve denied me my own rights under the Constitution and, more importantly, the rights of my constituents to just representation in their own government.”

Alex Rate, legal director of the ACLU of Montana said, “Rep. Zephyr was elected by the people of her district after running on the very principles she is now being punished for defending. In his craven pursuit to deny transgender youth and their families the health care they need, Speaker Regier has unfairly, unjustly, and unconstitutionally silenced those voters by silencing their representative.”

In its lawsuit, the ACLU noted that “the Montana Legislature has seen a proliferation of bills targeting the 2S-LGBTQIA+ community, and in particular transgender Montanans.” It also noted that the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found 93% of trans and nonbinary youth have worried about laws denying them access to gender-affirming medical care, and 86% said debates over such laws have negatively impacted their mental health.

Gender-affirming care is considered safe and essential to the well-being of trans youth, an assertion backed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and other major healthcare groups.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

GOP senator attacks professor for having a transgender child

Previous article

George Santos works hard to reinvent himself… as a fashion expert?

Next article