Montana Lawmakers Censure Member Who Broke Decorum, Peddled Suicide Myth
The Montana House of Representatives voted Wednesday to censure Representative Zooey Zephyr, who alleged that lawmakers voting to protect minors from gender transition procedures (in SB 99) had “blood on your hands.” At first, House Speaker Matt Regier (R) simply refused to recognize Zephyr until he apologized for breaking the House rules of decorum, but on Monday Zephyr encouraged disruptive protestors in the balcony, refused the sergeant-at-arms’ request to settle things down, and visited the arrested disruptors at the county jail. For the remainder of the 2023 session, Zephyr will be allowed to vote remotely, but he will be barred from the House floor.
“When I rose up and said ‘there is blood on your hands,’ I was not being hyperbolic,” Zephyr, who identifies as transgender, said before the vote to censure him. “When the speaker asks me to apologize on behalf of decorum, what he is really asking me to do is be silent when my community is facing bills that get us killed.” He added in a press release that the speaker’s action was really “driving a nail into the coffin of democracy.”
House Majority Leader Sue Vinton (R) responded, “Freedom in this body involves obedience to all the rules of this body, including the rules of decorum.” Unlike in Tennessee, the Montana legislature did not unseat Zephyr from the legislative body, and Zephyr retains the power to vote, albeit without power to speak on the floor.
“Zephyr’s comments mirror those often made by transgender activists who claim that denying children such procedures will lead them to make harmful decisions, including suicide,” said Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and host of “Washington Watch.” Perkins compared the argument to “scare tactics.” “It’s one of those things that, in a debate, you just throw this thing out here, and it just kind of shuts it all down.”
“This is not based on science,” agreed Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of FRC’s Center for Family Studies and a clinical psychologist, and who testified in favor of Montana SB 99. “When have you seen any scientific issue come into this level of debate and protest? I mean, at the end of the day, we’re talking about, ‘is this intervention — quote unquote, “intervention” — helpful or not?’” The claim that prohibiting gender transition procedures on minors will drive them to commit suicide is “not at all what the evidence suggests,” she said.
In recently published footage, detransitioner Prisha Mosley said “gender affirming” professionals pressured her, as a minor, into life-altering gender transition procedures she now regrets. “They said it was transition or suicide. Like, I was given no choice. I was told, ‘You will kill yourself if you don’t go through with these treatments,’” Mosley recalled.
“When we look at those who are going through transgender procedures, many of them have trauma histories, autism, high levels of social media exposure,” explained Bauwens. “We know that those are risk factors for suicidal thoughts. … If we just factored out the transgender issue altogether, a lot of the folks that are saying they’re suicidal or have suicidal ideation would have that, regardless of any kind of trans identification.”
“If someone had come, and they had depression and they were inclined toward self-harm, the normal protocol would be for counseling, would it not? It wouldn’t be to start treating them with surgeries and irreversible treatments,” Perkins responded. “That’s right,” Bauwens replied. “You would look for underlying conditions.” In a flow chart published last August, Seattle Children’s Hospital recommended gender transition procedures for interested children as soon as they started puberty, while even screening for other mental health issues was tacked on as an afterthought, only recommended for children to whom gender transition procedures could not be given.
Additionally, “There are more complications when kids go through transgender procedures,” noted Bauwens. In 2016, an 18-year-old who had participated in a Dutch study often by transgender advocates, died as a result of a gender transition surgery, which had been made riskier by the physical effects of puberty blockers. “Over and over again, country after country has shown that this is not an effective strategy,” insisted Bauwens. “In Sweden, where they track national data on everyone, they were able to determine that those who went through transgender procedures were 19 times more likely to commit suicide.”
“I would just say to anyone who’s listening and has a child, or a family member, or someone you care about who’s struggling with this,” said Bauwens, “if you’re seeing a therapist and they’re saying, ‘What’s going to help you is to transition,’ that is a lie. And anyone who coerces you on a path to changing who you are, that is not healthy. It’s manipulation. … Whether it’s from a professional with all kinds of credentials or not, that is not a healthy pathway.” Similarly, “If you have a therapist who’s not willing to look at the other issues … I’d say get yourself another therapist,” said Bauwens.
“It’s not just the individuals that are being led down this path,” said Perkins, “but as a culture, we’re being led down this path by fear and guilt.”
“We shouldn’t be legislating from a place of fear and guilt. We should be legislating to health, not out of, someone who’s throwing a tantrum,” Bauwens agreed. “Like the kid in the grocery store that throws a fit, if we change everything we’re doing to accommodate that childish behavior, we’re going to be in trouble.” Bauwens commended the Montana legislators “for their courage, because it takes tremendous courage to fight the transgender activists who really want to, in my view, harm children rather than keep them safe.”
“So what’s left for the other side, when all of the chips are on the table and it’s clear that this is not helpful, is to use fear tactics,” said Bauwens. “For this one particular legislator, who’s obviously bought into this … when you’ve invested all of your life into that identity, of course you’re going to get really angry when the evidence is shown before you that this is not possible, that you cannot form your biological sex.”
“There are obviously spiritual forces at play here,” said Bauwens, “but … there is no scientific basis to this treatment.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.