The last two weeks for Montana’s first trans lawmaker, Zooey Zephyr, and her girlfriend (now fiancée) Erin Reed, have been as hard to watch from afar as they’ve been awe-inspiring.
First, on April 26th, republican lawmakers — who hold the majority — voted to censure Rep. Zephyr in a party-line vote, barring her from the floor for the remainder of the legislative session. This came after she spoke out against proposed legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minor. The bill, known as Montana Senate Bill 99, prevents the administration of puberty blockers and has since been singed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte. Speaking on the House floor, Zephyr warned her colleagues “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.”
Zephyr’s censure came after Tennessee Republicans issued a similar retaliation against Democrats in their state for leading protests against gun violence on the House floor after the GOP refused to take action following a mass shooting at a Nashville school. Tennessee state Reps. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson led the protests, with the two black lawmakers — Jones and Pearson — being made to face the censure. Both men have since been reinstated to their seats.
Though they initially tried to have me removed from the public seating area, I am here working on behalf of my constituents as best I can given the undemocratic circumstances.
I'm talking to legislators, listening to debate, voting on bills, and fighting for democracy. pic.twitter.com/Ea8y7a48LC
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 27, 2023
Following her censure, Zephyr powerfully began completing her work from the public hallways of the Montana House, despite various intimidation tactics. She has been steadfast that she’ll continue to work “on behalf of my constituents as best I can given the undemocratic circumstances.wp_postsZephyr was elected to her position with more than 80% of the vote and represents 11,000 constituents.
Zephyr also filed an emergency order allowing her to return to the House floor. The district court judge ruled against her, upholding the decision of the GOP lawmakers. Zephyr and the ACLU of Montana are now suing the state over a violation of her First amendment rights, as well as the rights of her constituents.
Someone just attempted to SWAT my girlfriend.
Those who hate trans people are doing everything in their power to silence & harm us. But we will not be deterred.
We will stand in defiance of their cruelty, and never stop working until trans people get to live our lives in peace. https://t.co/FGf86vu0nj
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) May 2, 2023
Last week Tuesday, there was a a SWATing attempt — a harassment tactic where someone falsely calls the police against an innocent target, wit the purpose of having their house invaded — against Zephyr and her partner, Erin Reed, an independent journalist and LGBT activist. The attempt took place at Reed’s home in Maryland. Reed, who saw this type of thing coming, had previously been in contact with her local police department. She credits that forward thinking in part for preventing the SWATing attempt from ending in potential violence. Reed is perhaps most famous for her independent work creating a map that breaks down legislative risks to trans people across all 50 states.
I know that this a long and maybe even intense story to lead into an engagement announcement post — content that we at Autostraddle traditionally label sort of tongue-in-cheek as “vapid fluff.wp_postsI could not bring myself to use that label here, because I do not find anything “vapidwp_postsnor “fluffywp_postsabout Zooey Zephyr and Erin Reed’s brilliant, determined, resolute love story. Theirs is proof that love is a revolution.
On Friday, while at a local queer prom (🥺!!) Zephyr proposed. The couple announced their engagement on social media soon after.
Tonight I asked Erin to marry me.
A year ago, I told Erin that I was looking for a love that felt like home.
I have found that and so much more. I have found my future, my family, and my forever. pic.twitter.com/ntLayGwGJo
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) May 6, 2023
“A year ago, I told Erin that I was looking for a love that felt like home,wp_postswrote Zephyr. “I have found that and so much more. I have found my future, my family, and my forever.”
At Queer Prom tonight, Zooey dropped to one knee and asked me to spend forever with her.
I said yes.
I can think of no better person in this world to stand side by side with.
She has made me the luckiest woman alive. pic.twitter.com/70oXTWKimT
— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) May 6, 2023
“Zooey dropped to one knee and asked me to spend forever with her,wp_postsReed shared. “I said yes. I can think of no better person in this world to stand side by side with. She has made me the luckiest woman alive.”
On behalf of everyone at Autostraddle, I want to wish Zooey and Erin nothing but strength and happiness — the same strength and happiness that they are reflecting back on us as a queer community every single day. This fight that we’re in, it’s ugly. But on the other side of that fight is love. Getting us through the fight is also love. Let there always be love.