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Tipsheet

Here's What the NYT Found Scandalous About What the MT GOP Did to a Transgender State Rep

AP Photo/John Hanna

Montana is on the verge of outlawing a host of so-called medical procedures for transgender minors, including gender reassignment surgery. Both houses of the state legislature have passed bills, but Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte sent it back for revisions (via Associated Press):

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Montana’s Republican governor indicated Monday he would sign a bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, but he suggested changes to make it clear that public funds could not be used to pay for surgery or hormone treatments for youth diagnosed with gender dysphoria. 

“I share your profound commitment to protect Montana children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies,” Gov. Greg Gianforte wrote in a letter to the legislative leaders offering his amendments. 

Gianforte said he had met with transgender youth and adults, understands that their struggles are real and said his “heart goes out to them.” However, he wrote, treatments with hormones or surgery should wait until they are adults, arguing the science around puberty-blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical procedures “is unsettled and continues to evolve.”

The New York Times centered on Democratic State Rep. Zooey Zephyr’s emotional response to the proposed legislation being labeled anti-trans. Zephyr is the first openly transgender representative in Montana history, but the opposition remarks led to calls for Zephyr to be censured, with the publication highlighting that the Montana GOP misgendered her in the process:

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Representative Zooey Zephyr took to the floor of the Montana Legislature on Tuesday to make an impassioned plea for her colleagues to reject a bill that would ban transition care for transgender minors, saying that denying such care would be “tantamount to torture.” 

“This body should be ashamed,” Ms. Zephyr, a first-term Democrat and the Legislature’s first transgender member, said. “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.” 

The Montana Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers, responded by accusing Ms. Zephyr in a letter of “attempting to shame the legislative body” by using “hateful rhetoric.” The letter, which misgendered Ms. Zephyr, called for her to be censured. 

On Thursday, however, the House adjourned without taking that step. It was unclear if they planned to take up the matter on Friday. 

[…] 

On the State House floor on Tuesday, Ms. Zephyr said the effort to “define male and female as binary” was harmful. 

“You could not legislate binary sex any less than you can legislate that the Earth is flat,” she said. “Intersex people exist, trans people exist, and this bill doesn’t change that.” 

In response, Representative Sue Vinton, a Republican and the majority leader, stood in objection. 

“We will not be shamed by anyone in this chamber,” she said. “We are better than that.” 

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I’m trying to figure out why a publication like the New York Times is so concerned about the happenings in Helena. When Democratic administrations get stuck in the mud or are subjected to sinking approval ratings among voters, the media usually finds some obscure Republican state representative to zero in on, nationalizing their remarks, which admittedly are almost always off the rails, and then lecturing us for days about the growing extremism within the GOP. 

But transgender rights have become the raison d'etre for the Left in recent months, from forced partnerships at beer companies to sports to having dudes represent women’s sportswear; you’d think this slice of the population was at least a plurality when it’s probably less than three percent. The point is that just because social media is transfixed on something doesn’t make it a majority issue; Twitter isn’t real life. This bill came from a Republican legislature in a red state. Are we shocked? This bill will most likely pass, and Zephyr has raised objections which is perfectly acceptable. There’s still free speech, but the people of Montana elected those who feel differently about this form of health care, some of which are rather extreme. The misgendering is hardly a scandal, but it’s no shock that the Times highlighted it.

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The GOP should also recognize that any issue, no matter how trivial, has the potential to be nationalized.

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