LOS ANGELES: A transgender Democratic lawmaker has been banned from speaking in the Montana statehouse after telling Republicans they would have “blood on their hands” if they ban gender-affirming care in the conservative state.
Zooey Zephyr has been told she will not be allowed to take the floor until she apologises over the comment, in the latest spat over the hot-button issue of trans rights in the deeply divided US.
“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, the state’s first transgender representative, told colleagues on Tuesday.
Republican lawmakers objected to the remark, getting Zephyr’s gender wrong in a statement on Twitter.
“Our caucus is calling for the immediate censure of transgender Representative Zooey Zephyr after his threatening and deeply concerning comments on the House floor earlier today,” the Freedom House Caucus wrote.
The House’s Republican speaker Matt Regier on Thursday refused to call on Zephyr in debates, saying she would not be allowed to speak until she apologises.
A vote along party lines on Friday upheld the move. Republicans dominate the legislature, with 68 of the 100 seats.
The bill, which was ultimately passed, bans transgender minors in the state from receiving puberty blockers, or from having surgery.
Advocates say these are effective treatments for people suffering from gender dysphoria – the clinical condition of distress because a person’s gender identity is not the same as their biological sex.
Supporters say children and young people denied these treatments are at greater risk of self-harm or suicide.
Opponents say children are not adequately equipped to make such life-altering decisions, and are being pressured to undergo drastic procedures by those pushing an ideological position.
Transgender rights are among the frontline issues in America’s culture wars.
Since January, 29 new laws restricting the rights of transgender people have been passed in 14 US states, according to an analysis of data from the American Civil Liberties Union published this week by The Washington Post.
The Montana spat comes weeks after two Black Democrats were kicked out of the Tennessee legislature after demonstrating against what they said was Republican complicity in gun violence. They have since regained admission.