Montana Representative Zooey Zephyr Blocked from Speaking in Legislature



Representative Zephyr holding her microphone up in solidarity with protesters at the Montana legislature.

Nadia Khazei, Journalist

On April 18, 2023, Democratic Representative Zooey Zephyr spoke in response to the Montana House hearing four anti-transgender bills in one session. Being the first openly transgender woman in the history of Montana’s legislature, she felt passionate about the issue, even stating that those who voted in favor of the bills passing would have, “blood on their hands.” Due to this statement, Rep. Zephyr was blocked by Speaker of the House Matt Reiger from participating in debates and speaking for the rest of the remaining Montana session, only being able to cast her votes remotely.


Speaker Reiger’s reasoning for this decision comes from the rules of decorum that the legislature puts on all of its representatives. He ruled that Rep. Zephyr’s language was hostile and could result in the endangerment of all of the other representatives. As per his ruling, she has been blocked from participation. “[Rep. Zephyr] broke the rules,” one anonymous student says. “She insulted the other representatives. I think she should face some consequences for that.”


This sparked outrage in Rep. Zephyr’s supporters, who staged a protest outside of the Montana House to show their support for her. They claim that Speaker Reiger’s reasoning of ‘maintaining decorum’ in the House is unfair, and she is being unjustly targeted due to her gender identity. They also worry about her constituents, as she is not just the representative for 11,000 Montana residents but also transgender residents outside of her jurisdiction, offering a voice of support in opposition to bills that restrict them.


“Rep. Zephyr is incredible,” another anonymous student states. “She’s standing up…in such a scary time. What the Republicans are doing to her is unfair…and they need to let her speak again.”


As of the writing of this article, Rep. Zephyr has not been welcomed back to the Montana legislature. The session will end within the next few weeks, but it is unclear whether she will continue to face a similar situation after a reconvergence of the legislature.