Updated May 1, 2023, 11:52am EDT
politicsNorth America

Banned trans lawmaker Rep. Zooey Zephyr sues state of Montana

Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr.
REUTERS/Mike Clark

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Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the transgender lawmaker who was banned from the state House floor last week, sued the state and its legislative leadership on Monday in an effort to undo her censure.

The lawsuit, which Zephyr filed alongside the ACLU of Montana and several of her constituents, also seeks a temporary restraining order that would bar Republican lawmakers from taking away her legislative privileges until a court can settle the issue.

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Zephyr, the only trans member of the Montana legislature, was barred from the House floor and gallery last week after facing backlash from Republicans during the debate over a bill that prohibits gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.

Zephyr said that anyone who votes for the bill would have blood on their hands.

Even before a formal vote to censure Zephyr, House Speaker Matt Regier refused to recognize her during debates, saying he wouldn't do so until she could "maintain decorum." That sparked protests at the state Capitol in Helena.

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The lawsuit claims the Republican leadership violated her First Amendment rights and her constituents’ rights to representation in the legislature.

“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,” Zephyr said in a statement.

The lawsuit names the state of Montana, Regier, and House Sergeant at Arms Bradley Murfitt as defendants.