Trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr says Republicans using LGBTQ+ ‘boogeyman’ to hide real problems in US

Zooey Zephyr edited into an image of protestors masked with a gradient of pink and blue.

Trans Montana politician Zooey Zephyr has said she thinks Republicans are masking America’s real issues by stirring up fear of a transgender “boogeyman”.

The Missoula representative exclusively told PinkNews that state and national Republicans are using LGBTQ+ issues to mask “inadequate solutions to major crises” in the US.

Zephyr became the subject of controversy in April after she was censured and banned from the Montana House for the remainder of the 2023 legislative session after speaking out against the anti-trans Senate Bill 99.

The bill, which was signed into law by governor Greg Gianforte on 28 April, halted gender-affirming care for under-18s by preventing access to physically reversible puberty blockers.

It also bans “surgical procedures”, which no private or public healthcare system currently practices on under-18s.

Since her ban and subsequent return to the House on 2 May, Zephyr has been outspoken in her opposition to both the Republican legislation she called out and the decision to censure her, which she has described as “undemocratic”.

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“The extremism that we’re seeing in Republican-controlled legislatures is deeply out of step with the desire of people across this country,” Zephyr told PinkNews.

“There is a growing acceptance of trans people [and] there’s a growing frustration with bills targeting our community.

“Seeing what the right is willing to throw away to achieve their extreme ideological goals, it should be concerning for anyone who cares about democracy in this country.”

The Montana House representative took issue with House speaker Matt Regier, who refused to acknowledge Zephyr after she accused anti-trans Republicans of having “blood on their hands”.

She said that Regier, whose family holds a number of offices in Montana’s state capitol, was “driving a nail into the coffin of democracy” when he decided to reprimand her for speaking up against the bill.

“When I was censured, I went out with my head held high. I made a plan, and the plan was how do I stay as close to the people’s House as I can?”

During that time, she was seen working in the hallway outside the room where her colleagues were going about their political work as usual.

“I sat as close to the House as I could get, which itself took effort because the speaker tried to remove me from the public eye and put me in the minority leadership office.

“But I was able to stay in the public space and do the work there.”

Zooey Zephyr says Republicans have created LGBTQ+ ‘boogeyman’

Zooey Zephyr told PinkNews she believes Republicans have created an LGBTQ+ “boogeyman” to hide legislative injustices in other parts of society – such as housing or the cost of living crisis.

She described right-wing solutions to inherent societal issues as “inadequate”, and added that attempts to censure her are only making those problems worse.

“There is such a deep, deep housing crisis in our state that needs serious solutions across the gamut,” Zephyr explained.

“What we saw throughout the session is that Republicans were not interested in the breadth of legislation necessary to address the crisis.

“You saw deregulation, you saw development encouragement for market rate and higher developments. Not a lot done for renters, not a lot done for homebuyers.

“I think when they bring those anti-LGBTQ+ bills, they’re doing it because when you turn to the issues impacting Montanans in their day-to-day life, you don’t have answers.”

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