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Legislators, trans Montanans speak out against ‘Slate of Hate’ bills


Legislators, trans Montanans speak out against ‘Slate of Hate’ bills

Jan 24, 2023 | 10:12 pm ET
By Nicole Girten
Legislators, trans Montanans speak out against ‘Slate of Hate’ bills
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, speaks at a press conference on "Slate of Hate" bills on January 24, 2023. (Photo by Nicole Girten/Daily Montanan)

Legislators, transgender Montanans and the Montana Human Rights Network called out a number of Republican proposed bills as a “Slate of Hate” during a press conference on Tuesday. 

Shawn Reagor with the Montana Human Rights Network said that the organization was tracking 54 bills going through the legislature that they see as anti-LGBTQ, including Senate Bill 99, which would prohibit minors from undergoing gender confirming surgery.

“We recognize that given the supermajority and the legislature, that we have quite a battle ahead of us,” Reagor said. “However, we are determined whether it is in the state legislature or in the courts, to make sure that none of these bills go into effect and do devastating harm to our community and to the state that we love.” 

SB 99, introduced by Sen. John Fuller, R- Kalispell, will have its first hearing on Friday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Fuller introduced legislation similar to SB 99 during the 2021 legislative session but it died on the Senate floor.  

Rep. Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston, said part of what makes the strategy in this session different is that there are transgender representatives in the legislature. 

Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, the first trans woman to be elected to the Montana statehouse, said she’s been approached by moderate Republicans who have told her they don’t want to see anti-trans legislation pass and are working within their party to try to “tamp down on these attacks.” 

“It’s incumbent on all of us in the legislature, but particularly for myself and Representative (SJ) Howell, to make sure we are in front of these people and they understand the direct impact it has on our lives and the people we care about,” Zephyr said. 

Also included in the “Slate of Hate” is HB 234, sponsored by Rep. Bob Phalen, R-Lindsay, would open public library, museum and public school employees to criminal charges, potential fines up to $500 and six months of jail time under Montana’s obscenity law. 

The bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee last week, but there has yet to be executive action on it, according to the LAWS tracker

Reagor said they would like to see increased engagement from the Governor’s Office.

“We have been immensely disappointed with the response of the Governor’s Office to show any effort in preventing these bills from passing,” Reagor said.  

Zephyr spoke about anti-trans legislation from a national perspective as well, saying more than 200 bills  have been introduced across the county. 

The ACLU is tracking 185 pieces of legislation in the U.S. and listed SB 99 as one of the anti-LGBTQ bills in Montana, along with the draft bill from Rep. Braxton Mitchell, R-Columbia Falls, that would ban minors from attending drag shows.  

Kyndra Nevin said she’s been advocating for transgender lives since 2008. 

“I’m glad that we’re finally calling it out for what it is: The slate of hate,” she said.

Nevin said these bills insist on untruths and dehumanizing and defamatory language.

“It’s done by people who I know do not know us as a community, trans people like myself,” she said. 

Lauren Wilson, a pediatrician and president of the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said her organization is against SB 99, along with a slew of other medical associations in the state including the Montana Medical Association and the Montana Hospital Association.

A spokesperson for the Senate GOP could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Jaime Gabrielli, a parent of a trans child, said there’s no legitimate rationale behind any of these bills, only harmful misinformation.

“I’m here to tell you that our child’s lives are not up for debate regardless of whether these bills pass,” she said.  

List of “Slate of Hate” bills, as provided by a MHRN release:

  • SB 99 Sponsored by Sen. John Fuller, R- Kalispell, – Denying healthcare to transgender youth and creating penalties for physicians, therapists, and school officials who support trans youth, even those transitioning socially.
  • HB 234 Sponsored by Rep. Bob Phalen, R-Lindsay, – Revises dissemination of obscene material to minors laws
  • LC 1471 Sponsored by Rep. Braxton Mitchell, R – Columbia Falls, – Prohibit minors from attending drag shows and drag story hours
  • LC 2033 Sponsored by Rep. Caleb Hinkle, R – Belgrade, – Codify definitions of male and female
  • LC 2034 Sponsored by Rep. Caleb Hinkle, R – Belgrade, – Constitutional amendment defining gender
  • LC 2268 – Sponsored by Brandon Ler, R-Savage, – Provide that use of a name and sex by a student is not discrimination
  • LC 4178 Sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Trebas, R – Great Falls – Generally revise human rights
  • LC 4349 Sponsored by Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R – Great Falls, – Generally revise common law marriages and unions
  • LC 4423 Sponsored by Rep. Carl Glimm, R- Kila, – Define sex in Montana law