Trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr wants more young LGBTQ+ people to enter politics – on one condition
Trans US politician Zooey Zephyr has urged more young people to get into politics – but only if they want to make a difference to the lives of people around them, and not if they only harbour hopes of a political career.
She says it’s important to enter politics for the right reasons, not because someone is “chasing a capital P passion”.
Zephyr exclusively told PinkNews she believes a fundamental part of political activism is to stand up for communities being unjustly treated by society – whether that’s representing a district or supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
“I stood and continue to stand in my legislature in my work as a politician,” she says. “But my work is no more or less important than the rooms each of us chooses to stand in.
“When you stand up in your communities, ask yourself who is doing the work. You could say that I want to stand for LGBTQ+ rights, but actually, more narrowly, I really care about youth homelessness, and that’s the place I’m going to stand in.”
She adds: “It’s important to note that you’re never chasing a capital P passion. If you have an end goal of, ‘I want to be an elected official, I want to be here’, you are missing the real opportunity.
“If you turn that around and say, ‘I want to help my community, I want to do work in my community’, and politics feels like a great avenue for that, someone might say: ‘Yes, that’s great, and six months from now, can you help us at this event?’
“If you’re community-focused… you will find that you don’t have to kick doors down to get into rooms, you will find yourself invited into those spaces.”
Zephyr made the comments following weeks of controversy surrounding her public censure by Montana House Republicans after she spoke out against an anti-trans bill.
The Missoula representative was banned from the House floor after opposing Senate Bill 99, which outlaws gender-affirming care for trans youth.
Following her ban and subsequent return to the House after the period ended on 2 May, Zephyr continued to work with constituents on important bills, such as those concerning housing and the cost of living, despite attempts to remove her from the public eye.
House speaker Matt Regier is “driving a nail into the coffin of democracy”, she says.
“I said democracy will not die that easily. And when I was censured, I went out with my head held high and I made a plan.
“The plan was how do I stay as close to the people’s House as I can? How do I, recognising that we are in an unprecedented undemocratic moment, try my best to get my constituents, my community, the representation that they elected me for?”
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