LGBTQ+ advocates oppose proposed legislation in the Montana Legislature

HELENA – Lawmakers and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights rallied near the state Capitol on Tuesday to denounce proposed legislation they say would negatively impact the LGBTQ+ community.

To date, two bills have been formally introduced and a number of draft proposals on LGBTQ+ issues have been submitted.

Many of the proposals mirror similar laws introduced in other states across the country, such as

“We recognize that given the overwhelming majority in the legislature, we have quite a battle ahead of us,” said Shawn Reagor of the Montana Human Rights Network. “However, we are determined, whether it be the legislature or the courts, to ensure that none of these bills go into effect.”

On Friday, January 27, the Senate Judiciary will hear Senate Bill 99, which would ban any organization that receives public funding from providing certain gender-affirming medical and surgical treatments to transgender and non-binary minors. It would also prevent schools from allowing social transition, e.g. B. changing a minor’s preferred pronouns or donning preferred gender-specific clothing.

Speakers on Tuesday say lawmakers’ stance on LGBTQ+ issues is heavily influenced by life experience and whether they personally know a member of the community. A major difference in this legislature is that for the first time in the state’s history, there are openly nonbinary and translegislators in office, namely Missoula Democrats Rep. SJ Howell and Rep. Zooey Zephyr.

“From day one, moderate members of the majority party have come up to me saying they don’t want to see legislation like this and who, you know, are kind to me and care about me and I know who’s working on it her party to try to contain these attacks,” Zephyr said.

The 2021 Montana Legislature saw several bills that impacted transgender, nonbinary, and two-mind individuals. Bills signed into law by Gov. Gianforte included a ban on transgender people from participating in women’s collegiate sports, as well as a law requiring surgery and a court order to change a person’s gender on their birth certificate. Montana courts have since declared both laws unconstitutional.

*Editor’s Note: This story has been modified to remove the term gender dysphoria in accordance with the guidelines of GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide.