Montana GOP bars trans lawmaker from House floor

STORY: Republicans in Montana voted to silence the first openly transgender lawmaker in the state, Zooey Zephyr, on Wednesday.

Barring her from joining any more debates because she said this at a House floor session last week:

“If you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there's an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.”

Zephyr was referring to Senate Bill 99 that would ban transgender healthcare treatments for youths in Montana, such as puberty blockers and hormones.

“By this bill and what these amendments do, if you are forcing a trans child to go through puberty when they are trans, that is tantamount to torture.”

The debate, which has drawn national attention, comes as a culture war heats up nationwide over transgender rights.

The Republican supermajority silenced Zephyr within the chamber until she apologized, prompting an uproar in the gallery by her supporters on Monday.

Riot police were called in, and they arrested seven protesters.

Since the incident, Republicans have focused their attention on Zephyr. The ultraconservative Montana Freedom Caucus said she should be punished, while majority leader Sue Vinton, who presented the motion to censure Zephyr, stressed the need for decorum.

The Democratic Party criticized censuring Zephyr as undemocratic. She remained defiant in the statehouse on Wednesday.

“When the Speaker asks me to apologize on behalf of decorum, what he is really asking me to do is be silent when my community is facing bills that get us killed. He is asking me to be complicit in this legislature's eradication of our community and I refuse to do so, and will always refuse to do so.”

Zephyr said to her supporters later she plans to continue speaking forcefully against legislation that the transgender community calls a matter of life and death.

The lawmaker has said that a ban would lead to more suicides.

Republican legislators across the country have sought to ban certain healthcare for transgender youth – a tracker by a group of independent journalists says more than 500 bills have been introduced that they say would infringe on the rights of gender non-conforming people.

Such bills were once mostly limited to regulating changing rooms and women's sports but now also include limiting healthcare access for transgender adults and in some cases seek to charge parents and doctors with child abuse if they provide treatment.