Why are Montana Republicans trying to silence their transgender colleague Zooey Zephyr?

The latest high-profile example of legislative leadership determining who can be heard during legislative debates is Montana Where transgender lawmakers were silenced Republican Party leader.

Rep. Zooey Zephyr, who was mentioned by some conservatives for his deliberate use of male pronouns, said lawmakers would have “blood on their hands” if they passed a gender-affirming healthcare ban. Montana is one of a wave of states to pass legislation that opponents say could endanger transgender teens.

The Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives said he would not allow Zephyr to speak on the floor until he apologized.

Here’s what you should know about the situation:

Who are the transgender legislators at the center of this?

Last year, Zephyr became the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana legislature. She became one of a record number of transgender legislators to enter service across the United States.

The 34-year-old is from Missoula, a left-leaning college town, and has served on the faculty of the University of Montana. She spent most of her life advocating for her LGBTQ+ rights, working behind the scenes in Congress in 2021 to stop the movement to ban gender-affirming healthcare.

After the November election, she hopes her appearance in Congress will help people understand what it means to be transgender. He wanted to enlist moderate Republicans to fight back against what he called

Instead, she and her fellow Democratic minorities were powerless to stop Republicans from passing legislation banning gender-affirming care for transgender children. Another bill states that misgendering or naming a student is not unlawful discrimination unless it reaches levels of bullying. Dead naming refers to using the name that a transgender person used before transitioning.

What started this controversy?

Ms Zephyr spoke after the opening prayer on Tuesday as the House debated amendments to a bill proposed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte to ban gender-affirming care.

“I hope the next time I have a prayer, when I bow my head and pray, I will see blood on my hands,” she said.

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, a Republican, was quick to call Mr. Zephyr’s remarks inappropriate and disrespectful. That night, a group of conservative legislators known as the Montana Freedom Caucus demanded her denunciation, and deliberately referred to Mr. Zephyr in letters and tweets using masculine pronouns. Known — uses pronouns that are inconsistent with a person’s gender identity.

Ms Zephyr had swayed legislative leaders with emotional testimony prior to this session.

She made similar “blood on your hands” comments when the House first heard the bill, and also gave emotional testimony showing that bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights lead to suicide. Speaking directly to transgender Montana about the bill banning drag queen story hours in February, Zephyr said:

In a statement Thursday night, Zephyr said she does not apologize for her comments and explained the harsh impact she is seeing on the trans community from Congress’ actions.

“This year I lost a friend to suicide. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of families coping with suicide attempts, transgender youth who fled the state, and people being attacked on the side of the road. ‘, she wrote. “Republicans in Montana say they want an apology, but what they really want is a disenfranchising silence for trans people.”

Who is trying to silence her?

The Conservative Party formed the Montana Liberal Caucus in January, attended by at least 21 of the state legislature’s 102 Republicans.

Its ideological leader is a US congressman Matt Rosendalea hardline conservative who was among a core group of Republicans who endorsed former President Donald Trump’s false statements about fraud in the 2020 election and opposed the election of US Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House. sect.

Members of the caucus said Zephyr’s comments displayed “hateful rhetoric” and called for “commitment to public debate.”

Two days after the caucus letter, Speaker Matt Liger refused to allow Mr. Zephyr to speak out against a bill that would include binary definitions of men and women in state law.

Liger said he silenced Zephyr after speaking with other lawmakers. Although Democrats opposed, the decision was supported by the committee and by the entire House in a partisan vote.

So was she condemned?

Formally no, practically yes.

Condemnation in the Montana Legislature is a public rebuke. The House has not gone through that process. But Mr. Legier exercised his powers under House rules to determine matters of order, privilege and recognition.

Is this related to the expulsion of a Tennessee legislator?

Although not direct, the debate epitomizes tension and harsh rhetoric around culturally divisive issues such as firearms, racial justice, and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Tennessee ban stems from a dispute over gun control. Republicans fired two black lawmakers after joining the protest, but drew accusations of racism after retaining a third white lawmaker involved.

This week alone, the state legislature has taken numerous actions aimed at the trans community.

Florida’s House of Representatives has passed bills on gender reassignment treatment, toilet use, and keeping children out of drag shows. Lawmakers in North Carolina have approved a ban on transgender athletes. The governor of North Dakota also signed a bill restricting medical care for transgender people.

Other measures have either stalled or been blocked.

The Democratic governor of Kansas on Thursday vetoed a bill limiting restrooms for transgender people and restricting gender-affirming care for minors, but Republican lawmakers had the vote to invalidate her. Earlier this month, North Dakota failed to overturn a Republican governor’s veto over a bill that would bar public school teachers and employees from recognizing pronouns used by transgender students.

what’s next?

No one knows for sure. The next House session is Friday afternoon, and Zephyr will continue to try to speak. Regier is expected to stick to his stance of not speaking until Zephyr apologizes. It remains unclear whether conservative groups will continue to seek formal condemnation, with the Montana legislature set to adjourn in early May.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/zooey-zephyr-montana-transgender-lawmaker-b2325241.html Why are Montana Republicans trying to silence their transgender colleague Zooey Zephyr?

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