A woman (Zooey Zephyr) speaks from the Montana House floor.

Montana Republicans Can’t Handle Having to Hear About the Real-Life Impact of Their Anti-LGBTQ Bills

Zooey Zephyr is a modern American hero.

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If you don’t know who she is, Zooey Zephyr is an American politician who currently serves as the Representative for the 100th district of the Montana House of Representatives. She was elected to the House in 2022, and is the first openly transgender woman to be sworn in to the Montana state legislature. She is also an active Twitter user, and shares many of her professional and personal hurdles online.

Representative Zephyr couldn’t have chosen a better time to enter office. Legislative bodies across the United States are currently saturated with anti-LGBTQ legislation. Nine states are attempting to pass bills that would result in draconian bans on gender-affirming care, and some states *cough* Texas *cough cough* are aiming to pass legislation that would prohibit gender-affirming care altogether. It’s a dark time for trans people in the American political landscape, but Zooey Zephyr serves as a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community, and is providing hope for the future of U.S. legislative discourse regarding queer people.

If only Montana Republicans saw it that way.

I Read The Phrase “Montana Republicans” And Threw Up In My Mouth A Little Bit, What Happened?

House Republicans in Montana are drafting a bill that (shocker) is an attempt to ban minors from seeing drag shows. Why? Probably because they’re worried about children “catching the gay”, but also to degrade and erase the rights of trans people by using purposefully ambiguous legal language. On paper, the bill stipulates that “male or female impersonators” are not allowed to perform in front of children, and are therefore banned from presenting in drag in public spaces where children might see. In a legislative meeting about the bill, Zephyr took to the floor in an attempt to explain that this bill could also be interpreted as an attack on the trans community at large. She was quickly interrupted by another legislator who said that this bill had “nothing to do with trans people,” who then threatened that she could “go all day with this,” presumably saying that she would continue to harass and interrupt Zephyr for as long as it would take for the bill to bass.

Zephyr was visibly shaken by the interruption, no doubt sensing the hostility towards her in the room, but continued on undaunted. She went on to say that many private citizens who expressed their support for the bill included trans people in their definition of “male or female impersonators” and added that many of these same people referred to trans people as “groomers and pedophiles” in their statements. She was interrupted again by a lawmaker who objected to her use of the terms “groomers and pedophiles” on the House floor, conveniently forgetting these two terms were first introduced by supporters of the proposed bill. Nevertheless, Zephyr continued on.

Zephyr explained that banning drag performances would effectively ban public pride events (such as pride parades) altogether, and inferred that the bill’s unclear language could be weaponized against trans people whom civilians think are performing “in drag.” She explained that this bill could be used against trans people effectively stop them from existing as who they are in public spaces. She was then reminded by the person leading the discussion of the bill to “stick to the bill” itself, as if that wasn’t what she was already doing.

After continuing on, she was told that she was only allowed to speak for one more minute. She used the remainder of her time to attempt to tell the story of a 14-year-old queer person who attempted to die by suicide after hearing about the bill. She was immediately interrupted by the discussion leader and told to take her seat. The House went on to pass the bill.

This exchange is one of countless examples of the callous disinterest with which Republican politicians regard queer and trans lives. It is also an example of the resilience of trans people when faced with such malignancy. It is my fervent hope that in ten years time that American society as a whole looks back on horror and outrage, and I believe that with fearless politicians like Zooey Zephyr leading us, that day will someday be at hand. Until then, we must continue to resist creeping anti-LGBTQ sentiment from infecting the legislative branches of our government. Trans lives, including the life of Zephyr herself, depend on it.

(featured image: screencap)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.