Brave Zooey Zephyr ‘up and ready to work’ despite being mocked and intimidated at Montana state House

Zooey Zephyr

Montana’s first-ever trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr has stood up to intimidation at her place of work after four women took her seat and proceeded to stare and laugh at her in the state House.

Since being sworn in at the start of this year, Zephyr has faced discrimination in her role as a US lawmaker for standing up for LGBTQ+ and trans rights.

On 26 April, Republicans voted to ban her from the House floor for the remainder of the 2023 legislative session, after she delivered a powerful speech against a bill that would prevent trans youth accessing gender-affirming healthcare.

As if being silenced wasn’t enough, Zephyr has now been subjected to intimidation from women who appeared to be laughing at her while she worked. 

A photo circulating on Twitter shows three women sitting where Zephyr has been conducting her work since being banned from the Montana House, while laughing and staring at her as she works from a lunch counter outside the Representatives’ chamber.

On Monday (1 May), a social media user tweeted the images with the caption: “These photos really say it all.

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“The women on that bench represent a culture of hate, a society that has stigmatised trans people over generations.

“For them, barring Zooey Zephyr from the chamber and gallery was not enough. They took the bench too.” 

Zooey Zephyr
Trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr now works in the hallways of the Montana House of Representatives on this bench following her ban from the floor. (Twitter/Zooey Zephyr)

The initial Tweet featuring the images has been viewed more than a million times.

Countless comments under the post see people comparing the intimidation to the same abuse Black citizens were subjected to during the years of racial segregation in America. 

Others commented on how pleased the women look, with one social media user remarking: “They’re always so proud of their bigotry.” Another said: “These are such important photos.”

“They are just so happy and gleeful about doing what they can to make Rep. Zephyr’s ability to work harder,” another person wrote.

“They enjoy hurting her any way they can. They have downright evil, mischievous looks on their faces.”

Unfazed by the apparent attempt to intimidate her, Zephyr posted one of the images on her Twitter page and captioned it: “Some folks showed up early this morning and sat on the public benches near the entrance to the House, so Seat 31 has moved.

“I’m up and ready to work. Plus, I hear stand desks are all the rage these days.” 

The determined lawmaker has seen her post flooded with positivity, with supporters calling her an “inspiration” and “wildly impressive”.

Although Zephyr will be allowed to vote remotely, her ban from the House floor followed her delivery of a passionate speech on 18 April against a bill that would prevent trans youth accessing potentially life-saving gender-affirming healthcare. 

In the speech, she said that Montana Senate Bill 99, also known as the Provide for a Youth Health Protection Act, would harm young, trans people.

“If you disallow the use of medical care that is accepted by every major medical association,” Zephyr stated, “the only therapy left is either meaningless or conversion therapy, which is torture.”

She said those who backed the ban would have “blood on their hands”. 

Montana Republicans demanded she be reprimanded for “inappropriate and uncalled-for language”.

House Speaker Matt Regier refused to acknowledge Zephyr or let her speak in the chamber, and on April 26 the House voted to ban her.

Following the vote, Zephyr tweeted a picture of her microphone turned on, highlighting her readiness to work, although she is currently unable speak in the House.

“The Republican Party of Montana is refusing to allow me – a transgender representative – to speak on any bill. This is fundamentally undemocratic,” she wrote.

“I was elected to represent my 11,000 constituents. No silencing tactics will deter me from advocating for my community, my district, and all Montanans.

“My light is on and I am ready to speak.”

Republican Montana governor Greg Gianforte signed the highly controversial trans healthcare bill into law on 28 April. It will go into effect on 1 October.

Hundreds of people have since protested the silencing of Zephyr in Montana.

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