Transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr has criticized the Montana House after it banned him from participating on the House floor for the remainder of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end by May 5.
Taking to Twitter on April 26, Zephyr, the first transgender lawmaker in the history of the Montana Legislature, called the ban “a disturbing affront to democracy” that had stripped him of his ability to represent 11,000 constituents in debate.
Lawmakers voted 68–32 on Wednesday to bar state Rep. Zephyr, a Democrat, from voting on the House floor after he broke decorum by telling legislators in a debate earlier this week that they would have “blood on [their] hands” if they backed a ban on transgender procedures for minors.
The bill, SB 99, also known as the “Youth Health Protection Act,” bans health care professionals in the state from carrying out transgender medical procedures on minors, although it includes certain exceptions, such as when the child is born with sexual development disorders, injuries, or diseases.
“The only thing I will say is if you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments I hope the next time there’s an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” Zephyr said during the debate.
The Montana Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers, called Zephyr’s remarks “hateful rhetoric,” and demanded he be censured, which he later was.
However, the censuring prompted large protests by Zephyr’s supporters at the statehouse on Monday. Some of the protesters were arrested, according to the Montana Free Press.
‘Relentless Assault’ on LGBT Community
Under the motion passed on Wednesday, Zephyr will still be able to vote on his bills remotely but will not be allowed to speak during floor debates for the remainder of the legislative session.
“After silencing me for a week, they then proceeded to silence hundreds of Montanans who showed up to demand that their representative’s voice be heard,” Zephyr wrote in a statement on Twitter.
The lawmaker went on to accuse the Legislature of having launched a “relentless assault” on the LGBT community in recent months, introducing bills that he said “aim to undermine our art forms, our literature, our history, and our healthcare.”
“As I confronted the ban on gender-affirming care and exposed the previous harm these bills inflict, I held those responsible to account. Subsequently, Speaker [Matt] Regier denied me the right to be heard on any bill moving forward,” Zephyr wrote.