Montana Representative Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first transgender representative, filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging the Republican-led state legislature’s decision to ban her from the House floor.
The legislature voted along party lines last Wednesday to bar Zephyr, a Democrat who represents Missoula, from the House floor over her remarks against SB 99, a bill that bans gender-affirming care for minors, they viewed as a breach of decorum.
While speaking against the legislation on the House floor, the state representative argued that forcing a transgender child to go through puberty would be “tantamount to torture” and that she hopes the bill’s supporters will “see the blood” on their hands.
The scuffle comes as Republican-led states across the country continue passing legislation targeting gender-affirming care and other rights of the transgender community. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law last week, making it the 19th state to enact bans on gender-affirming care for minors.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), at least 469 bills targeting LGBTQ rights have been introduced in current legislative sessions.
Zephyr is now mounting a legal challenge to the ban, arguing it violates both her First Amendment rights, as well as the rights of her constituents, she said in a statement released by the ACLU on Monday.
“This effort by House leadership to silence me and my constituents is a disturbing and terrifying affront to democracy itself,” she said. “House leadership explicitly and directly targeted me and my district because I dared to give voice to the values and needs of transgender people like myself.”
Montana State Legislature
Newsweek reached out to Zephyr and Montana House Speaker Matt Regier via email for comment.
In the complaint, Zephyr’s attorneys argued that the ban “effectively removed” Zephyr from the legislative process and therefore deprived “her 11,000 constituents of the right to full representation in their government.”
The lawsuit seeks for the Speaker to be prohibited “from refusing to recognize” Zephyr from future House proceedings.
This is a developing news story that will be updated when more information becomes available.