Montana bans gender-affirming care for trans minors day after removing Rep. Zephyr from House floor

Friday, April 28, 2023
Montana transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr barred from 2023 session
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Transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr was barred from participating on the House floor as Republican leaders voted to silence her for the rest of 2023.

HELENA, Mont. -- Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill Friday to ban gender-affirming medical care for young transgender people - the battle over which ended with the removal of a transgender lawmaker from the House floor.

Montana is one of at least 15 states with laws to ban such care despite protests from the families of transgender youth that the care is essential.

Debate over Montana's bill drew national attention after Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr told lawmakers they would have blood on their hands if they passed the bill. House Speaker Matt Regier refused to let Zephyr speak on the House floor until she apologized. She has not.

NOTE: The video in the media player is from a previous report.

On Monday, Zephyr stood defiantly on the House floor with her microphone raised as protesters shouted "Let her speak," disrupting House proceedings for at least 30 minutes. Zephyr was then banned from the House and its gallery and voted on bills from a bench in the hallway outside the House on Thursday and Friday.

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Montana have said they would file a court challenge against the ban, which is set to take effect on Oct. 1, starting a five-month clock in which Montana youth can try to find a way to work around the ban or to transition off of hormone treatment.

"This bill is an overly broad blanket ban that takes decisions that should be made by families and physicians and puts them in the hands of politicians," the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has said.

Gianforte signaled his willingness to sign the bill on April 17 when he offered some amendments to make it clear that public funds could not be used to pay for hormone blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgical procedures.

The bill "protects Montana children from permanent, life-altering medical procedures until they are adults, mature enough to make such serious decisions," Gianforte wrote in his letter accompanying the amendments.