Republican lawmakers in Montana have passed a motion to exclude freshman Democratic Representative Zooey Zephyr from the chamber floor and gallery for the remainder of the legislative session. The move came after Zephyr, the state's only transgender lawmaker, spoke out against a bill that would prohibit gender-affirming care for minors.
Zephyr, who represents Missoula, can still vote via Zoom but is prohibited from physically attending the floor and gallery in Helena, the state capital.
During a session on Monday, she directed her microphone towards her supporters in the Statehouse gallery as they chanted, "Let her speak!" The vote to exclude her was split along party lines, with 68 Republicans in favor and 32 Democrats opposed. Some Republicans had even considered expelling her altogether.
Shortly after leaving the House chambers, Zephyr published a tweet which included a photo of her pressing the green light at her podium which signals when it's a lawmakers turn to speak.
She captioned the photo with the following message:
"As I left the House chambers, I pressed my light to speak—a reminder that this legislature is removing 11,000 Montanans from discussion on every bill going forward."
"I will always stand on behalf of my constituents, my community, and democracy itself."
You can see Zephyr's tweet below.
Many have expressed their support for Zephyr and praised her for taking such a bold and public stance.
During a passionate speech last Tuesday, Zephyr vocalized her concerns about a proposal that would prevent transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming medical care.
Zephyr warned the Republicans they would have "blood on [their] hands" if the proposal passed.
Here is an excerpt from that speech:
In response, the Republicans complained Zephyr's comments were improper and lacked in respect.
Zephyr spoke again on Wednesday, after being banned from the floor and gallery in Helena.
She stated she had "risen up in defense of my community" and "democracy itself" over the past week.
Zephyr believes when the Speaker of the House requested she apologize for her remarks on behalf of decorum, he was in essence attempting to silence her.
Zephyr explained speaking out against the anti-trans bills was her way of demonstrating the real consequences of the legislative votes taken in the House.
Zephyr also shared she has been receiving calls from families of transgender youth in dire situations, including one family whose transgender teenager had attempted suicide while watching a hearing on one of the anti-trans bills.