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Zooey Zephyr
Courtesy Trans Pride

Zooey Zephyr

Zooey Zephyr

Meet one of the artists, disruptors, educators, groundbreakers, innovators, and storytellers who all helped make the world a better place for LGBTQ+ people.

Zooey Zephyr is an unrepentant optimist. Even after experiencing what many would view as a terrible year, the Montana House member — the first trans person elected to the legislative body — believes we’ve turned a corner on LGBTQ+ equality.

“Everywhere I travel, I see a queer community that is supporting one another through the hardships we are facing,” Zephyr says. “When I speak to people outside of the queer community, I see broad support for LGBTQ rights, and the polling supports this as well. We are facing an unprecedented level of attacks by the far right; however, broadly, this hate is being rejected.”

Zephyr came to national prominence this year not just because of her historic election as a bi trans woman, but because she bravely spoke out against legislation restricting gender-affirming health care in the state. Debating against the bill, which would eventually pass, Zephyr said to her Republican colleagues, “I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.”

The House’s GOP majority, led by the far-right Montana Freedom Caucus, immediately censured Zephyr, effectively preventing her from speaking on the chamber floor for the remainder of her term, or at least until 2025, assuming she’s reelected. Zephyr’s constituents in the liberal city of Missoula largely rallied to her side, even as the legislator and her fiancée were repeatedly swatted by transphobes. Zephyr soldiers on.

“I am working with various groups to brainstorm policy proposals for the next legislative session,” she says. “Secondly, I am traveling the state of Montana as well as the country in order to build coalition and help ensure the good folks who want to get into office have the support they need in order to succeed…and I believe — with every fiber of my being — that every time we proudly state who we are, every conversation we have with a stranger, we move the needle on queer rights and that it won’t be long before those who push these attacks on our community will be relegated to the dustbin of history.” @zoandbehold


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Neal Broverman