Trans state representative Zooey Zephyr makes Time’s 100 Next list

Zooey Zephyr, wearing a single-strap blue dress, speaking during the GLAAD Media Awards.

Transgender state representative for Montana Zooey Zephyr has been named in Time’s 100 Next list in recognition of her fight against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

In 2023 a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced into state legislatures – particularly with the intention of restricting gender-affirming care.

When Zephyr, Montana’s first transgender state representative, called out one such bill in April, telling lawmakers that they would have “blood on their hands,” she was targeted with censure calls and banned from the House floor for the remainder of the 2023 legislative session.

Zephyr was told that she would have to vote remotely for the rest of the year, leading to widespread protests and condemnation from LGBTQ+ advocates across the United States. 

Trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr wears a dark one shoulder dress and rainbow earrings as she poses for the camera
Trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr has been named in Time’s 100 Next list. (Getty)

As Zephyr defiantly continued to show up at the state capitol, fighting for a seat in the building when her access was denied and representing Missoula when Republican lawmakers attempted to disrupt her further, support for her only increased, with critics calling out the House for their severely undemocratic actions.

As her situation gained international attention, Zephyr continued to use her platform to advocate for protections for transgender Americans.

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Eventually, Zephyr returned to the House floor in May and wasted no time in getting back to representing her constituents. 

Reacting to news that she had been recognised by Time’s 100 Next List, Zephyr took to X (formerly Twitter) and wrote: “I’m honoured to be included in Time’s 2023 Top 100 Next. It’s been an absolute joy to represent Missoula.

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“And all of the work – however challenging – always feels light, because I know I’m fighting alongside so many amazing people to build a better, kinder world.”

Zephyr is named alongside entertainers like Mae Martin (Feel Good), Emma Corrin (The Crown), and Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us), and political leaders like Roberta Metsola, Elly Schlein, and Shalanda Young.

Despite the barriers that Zephyr has come up against this year, she has called for more young LGBTQ+ people to enter politics.

In an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Zephyr said that 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 said.

“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.

“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 here,’ you are missing the real opportunity.”

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She continued: “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.”

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