One of Missoula’s transgender representatives was banned from the House floor.



A drawing of Zooey Zephyr with a microphone surrounded by red and blue stars.

Montana legislator Zooey Zephyr, who is a trans woman, was barred from entering the court at the end of April after the comments she made were seen as hateful. This comes during a time in the United States where multiple laws and bans are being pushed out against transgender people. Zephyr, who spoke out against the Republican legislators, was removed from the floor and was forced to work remotely from outside of the court.

Representative Zooey Zephyr represents the 100th district for the House of Representatives, which holds about 11,000 constituents. The city she is a part of is Missoula. She was voted into the office in her run in 2022, and fights for the rights of everyone, as well as concerns that affect everyone. Her campaign focuses on the rights for transgender and LGBTQ+ people, but she also aims to bring light to other issues. These include housing inequalities, climate change, affordable healthcare, and infrastructure.

In recent months, the rights of transgender people have come into conflict, and Ms. Zephyr, as a trans woman, is pursuing action to create a better place for her community.

When I rose up
and said there is
blood on your hands,
I was not being

Zooey Zephyr

The United States is not the only country in the world with laws against the transgender community, however it has become a lot more well-known considering its status. Many bills have already been passed against trans people, with a few hundred more awaiting approval. After the banning of drag racing in a few select states (namely, Tennessee) at the beginning of the year, many states have taken it upon themselves to target trans people and youth next. The Spartan Scoop wrote an article about the drag ban that can be found here. A lot of the bills going up are restricting access to healthcare for trans youth (people under 18), with the explanation that kids might not want changes being done to their bodies before they’re old enough to have a fully developed brain. While studies show that most people who transition become happier afterwards, there is a belief here that kids can’t be making decisions for themselves, regardless if their parents give consent as well.

And this is what happened on the Montana capital’s House floor at the end of April. After telling the Republicans in the court that they would see blood on their hands, Zephyr was removed from the floor. There were many reasons believed to be behind why she was removed, and the words she said are thought to be a main reason. The bill that the court had been speaking on that day was a bill that decided whether or not the state should restrict the access to gender-affirming healthcare by transgender youth. Zephyr would go on to say “When I rose up and said there is blood on your hands, I was not being hyperbolic. I was speaking to the real consequences of the votes that we as legislators take in this body”. Research shows that young trans people are more likely to become depressed if they don’t have access to healthcare that would make them feel more like themselves.

Zephyr would go on to release a statement about the “undemocratic decision” to remove her from the court. “In a disturbing affront to democracy, today the Montana House of Representatives voted along party lines to ban me from the house floor, effectively stripping me of the ability to represent my 11,000 constituents in debate.” This removal took up the entire week of the legislative session, and it is unclear if she will be allowed to return during the next session.

After no longer having access to the court, Zephyr took her spot in a seat outside of the courtroom to work remotely. She continued to fight for the rights of the people she represented, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Montana as a whole. Being removed from the floor has also sparked a lot of frustration in the public, with protests taking place outside of the courthouse and in other cities across the state. “Let her Speak” and “We’re with Zooey” can be seen written on signs from protestors in Livingston, Montana.

Believing it was a violation of her rights, Zephyr sued the court. She sought a court order to return, and the Judge denied it. She claimed that it was a violation of her rights, and that it silenced her and the 11,000 people she was supposed to represent. Republican lawmakers and the House speaker Matt Regier said that she would not be allowed to speak again until she apologized for her “hateful rhetoric”. Afterwards, arrests had been made on people who crowded the House gallery, and Zephyr was accused of “standing in the middle of the floor encouraging an insurrection.” These beliefs from the conservative and Republican parties might be considered to be the basis on why Zephyr was not allowed back on the floor. As well, District Court Judge Mike Menahan claimed that he did not have the power to overturn the court’s decision to remove her from the floor.

After Zephyr was barred from the floor, debates continued. The bill that was being heard had passed and was signed into effect by Greg Gianforte, the state’s Republican governor.

More bills are continuing to be passed against the rights and ability to access healthcare for not only transgender people, but the entire LGBTQ+ community. Montana is not the only state that is seeing this in court. But after removing one of its representatives, who is trans, from debating the topic of trans health, it has been one of the top states in the news recently. As these bills continue to get passed, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are at stake. And the only way people can help is to get their voices heard, and to participate in protests or signing petitions. This is only the start to what could turn into a very bad outcome for the United States of America.