A trans Montana lawmaker, who lashed out at colleagues in favor of a ban on puberty blockers, hysterectomies and other medical or surgical treatments for children with gender dysphoria by hoping the next time "you bow your heads in prayer, you see blood on your hands," is now complaining of being misgendered by Republicans calling for the official's censure.
In a statement Wednesday, the Montana Freedom Caucus demanded transgender Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr of Missoula's House District 100 be censured by the House "for attempting to shame the Montana legislative body and using inappropriate and uncalled-for language during a floor debate over amendments concerning Senate Bill 99 – to ban sex changes of minor children." The statement described Zephyr using he/him pronouns.
The bill already passed Montana's House and Senate, and a debate occurred over amendments requested by Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican.
During the debate, Zephyr closed an argument by stating, "The only thing that I will say is 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."
In response, Majority Leader Sue Vinton stood up and stated, "We can debate matters civilly and with respect for each other."
"While individual legislators hand condemned his behavior, the legislature itself has not yet issued a collective statement acknowledging the wrongdoing and upholding a commitment to civil disclosure," the caucus' statement said. "This kind of hateful rhetoric from an elected official is exactly why tragedies such as the Covenant Christian School shooting in Nashville occurred. Combined with former Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson's recent calls for ‘jihad’ and a ‘high to the death,’ there is unmistakable evidence of a desire for some to engage in violence over political beliefs. This must stop."
The amendments were concurred in a 66-34 vote, advancing the legislation to the governor's desk. The Montana Freedom Caucus said the bill was important because it "protects minor children from forced, life-altering and unnecessary surgical procedures."
The statement was signed by 21 members of the Montana state legislature.
In response, however, Zephyr said, "It is disheartening that the Montana Freedom Caucus would stoop so low as to misgender me in their letter, further demonstrating their disregard for the dignity and humanity of transgender individuals. "
"Their call for ‘civility and respect’ is hypocritical given their actions," Zephyr said in a statement. "In response to the Montana Freedom Caucus' call for my censure, I stand by my accurate description of the devastating consequences of banning essential medial care for transgender youth."
Zephyr contended Senate Bill 99 "is part of an alarming rend of anti-trans legislation in our state, which includes over a dozen unconstitutional bills. These bills ban our art forms, our stories, our healthcare, and our very existence in Montana code. Policy by policy, Republicans are legislating the eradication of queer and transgender people from public life."
"When I said there is blood on their hands, I meant it," Zephyr added in a tweet, sharing a copy of a letter. "All legislators (& the Gov) received a letter from an ER doctor who dealt w/ a suicide attempt from a trans teen who cited OUR LEGISLATURE as a factor in their suicidality. 'My state doesn't want me,' is what they said."