Trailblazing trans politician Zooey Zephyr uses Dungeons & Dragons to explore gender and politics

Zooey Zephyr during a red carpet event.

Transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr has said she uses popular fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons to explore her political beliefs.

The trailblazing Montana lawmaker, who was famously censured in 2023, said she is an avid fan of the table-top role-playing game and uses it as a way to explore her views on right and wrong.

“I try to wrestle with complex questions through my characters,” she said. “We get to try to stop [evil]. You get to feel like a hero. Many times, there’s a [villain] and I smack it with magic or a hammer. That can be cathartic.”

Speaking to Teen Vogue, Zephyr said she has played Dungeons & Dragons avidly since college and regularly paints figurines for her campaigns.

Zooey Zephyr with her partner Erin Reed.
Zooey Zephyr (L) with partner, journalist Erin Reed. (Getty)

Storytelling in the game, in which she role-plays as fantasy characters fighting evil forces or going on quests, allows her to tackle larger questions about what it means to be a good person and to do right in society.

Subjects she explores include, gender, politics, ethics and learning the value of spaces in a way that isn’t complex or overwhelming.

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The hobby is also a welcome respite from the trials of working as a lawmaker in Montana, which, she said, is about fighting against the odds.

“If we cannot get to a better place in this country, I still believe fighting in the halls of power and voting. Even if we could not fix the prison system, even if we could not adequately address the housing crisis, we can try to save people.”

Who is Zooey Zephyr?

Zephyr is a Montana state representative who was elected in 2023, becoming Big Sky Country’s first trans politician.

The 36-year-old, who represents The Treasure State’s 100th district, was a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, progressive housing policies and other Democratic principles, even before she was elected.

She was briefly banned from entering the Montana State House floor after her speech against Senate Bill 99, Republican legislation that outlawed gender-affirming care for trans youth. Those who supported it would have “blood” on their hands, Zephyr said.

A decision by House speaker Matt Regier to block her from speaking on future bills, set off protests in the State Capitol building.

Republicans then voted to ban Zephyr from the House floor for the remainder of the 2023 legislative session.

After she returned months later, Zephyr said it was a mistake for the district court not to have reinstated her, a decision that “undermined” the democratic principles that the US was founded on, she claimed.

In May, she told PinkNews that it was the third time she had spoken out against the bill, saying on numerous occasions that legislating that sex is binary was like ruling that “the Earth is flat”.

Of the protests, she said: “They were rising in defence of democracy, saying, ‘We have sent a person here to speak on her behalf, let her speak, she is our voice in this room’.”

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