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Letters from the Front: US Edition – Part V “ZOOEY ZEPHYR – WHEN POLARITY MEETS POLICY”


In a return to sanity in Montana, the adults in the room at the State Legislature barred Democrat representative “Zooey” Zephyr, a biological male who identifies as a female, because his screaming at his fellow legislators that they’re torturing kids by allowing them to grow up intact was deemed unacceptable.

Meanwhile, in the author’s home town, children got a day off school to march down the main thoroughfare for the “Unite Against Racism” march sponsored by the YWCA – which now allows men into the women’s locker rooms. There were the usual “Stop hate” and “Love always” and “Hate has no home here” signs. The name of the event was changed from “Stand Against Racism” because that was considered ableist.

These kids are our next legislators, and they’ve been fed a steady diet of screaming, signs, internet memes and coercive echo chambers. They’ve grown up with the idea that even listening to a dissenting opinion is entertaining “hate”, and that empathy for a “lived experience” that doesn’t agree with the popular narrative is dangerous. And now everyday Americans have to deal with the fallout. Common sense cannot return soon enough.

The latest and greatest news from America is “Zooey” Zephyr, a “transgender” Democrat State Representative in Montana, who has been plastered all over the news for his allegations that the far right are censuring the far left.

Zephyr, a biological male who identifies as a female, represents the 100th district of Montana, which is an urban area towards the center of the bustling college metropolis of Missoula. He himself says he represents 11,000 people, although only 4,053 of them voted for him. A PBS article quotes one of his voters as saying that he voted “her” in to speak for their rights as a gay transgender person. The same article quotes a man who left the town because of the loss of industry and too many college kids being weird.

Zephyr’s Republican opponent was Sean Patrick McCoy, an old white guy whose only claim to Liberal fame was in 2002 when he and two of his “Earth First” friends stopped a logging truck and rappelled over the Clark Fork River to protest logging operations. McCoy refused to come down from the bridge as he dangled from his rappelling lines. He had to be dragged onto the boat that had come to rescue him. He and his buddies pleaded Not Guilty to the charges of criminal endangerment, a felony, and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Suffice to say McCoy was no stranger to hardcore activism, and his cause du jour suggests that despite being Republican, he wouldn’t oppose ecological policy that favors conservation and protection. But we’re not good at nuance here in the States.

Zephyr says he ran for election so that he could “be in the room” to make better decisions for other gender ideologues like himself. It wasn’t because he was mad about underfunded public schools or unaffordable day care or anemic maternity leave policies or any other issue that affects women. He was there because he didn’t like what he considered to be “anti-trans” laws.

So when Montana joined in the ranks of American states that have banned experimental “treatments” for children experiencing the normal trials and tribulations of puberty, he found his shining moment and stood up and said:

“…If you are forcing a trans child to go through puberty when they are trans, that is tantamount to torture, and this body should be ashamed.”

The legislative body understandably objected to this line, and the Speaker demanded Mr. Zephyr to apologize. He did not. He doubled down and got louder, stating that he hoped his fellow legislators saw “the blood on their hands” when they bowed their heads to prayer at the next invocation. As a result of his behaviour he was barred from speaking on the state House floor until he apologizes.

Mr. Zephyr likely lives in the same echo chamber as the rest of the gender activists who believe these puberty-blocking treatments are a good thing. He likely has not read any of the latest research on where this is going, or that several European countries such as Sweden, Finland and the UK are putting a screeching halt to these “treatments”. Nor has Mr. Zephyr shown any indication that he has listened to the stories of detransitioners. He likely isn’t paying attention to the suicide statistics, which are nowhere near as dire as he claims for gender non-conforming kids, and are actually very dire for those who have undergone surgeries to change their sex characteristics, many of whom are now facing innumerable complications and comorbidities.

Instead, Zephyr is simply parroting lines because they’re popular. They grab attention. “Blood on your hands” is hard to ignore, like “protect kids” and “love wins”. Listening to him speak, I could hear every single internet meme being tossed up, one right after the other. The plea to emotion, the idea that “everyone knows this, what’s wrong with you,” the belief that people are not paying attention, the raised fist as a known symbol of resistance, it was all there. It was like reading Trump Jr’s book, which was basically right wing memes in narrative form.

Zephyr also likely does not consider the cognitive dissonance required in a movement that claims that a person does not need drugs or surgery to be “trans”, while at the same time claiming that if drugs and surgery are denied, then the legislative body has “blood on their hands”. He likely would tell you that “surgeries are not happening to kids anyway,” while not grasping that if it’s not happening to kids then why is this even a problem? Also Jared (Jazz) Jennings’s reality TV journey is right there on TV for all to see.

Frankly, blood is a lot easier to look at than the necrosis of a surgically altered colon constructed into an opening that will supposedly function as a vagina, a condition an 18-year-old boy tragically died of just a few days after the Zephyr incident when the necrosis spread throughout his torso. Guess which story still has some traction? (Hint: it’s not the death of the kid, because that doesn’t follow the scripted narrative that all these “treatments” are beautiful, life-saving and necessary.)

What Zephyr did was to take street activism and apply it to a legislative body. What he failed to understand is that there are rules. And decorum. Screaming at your fellow legislators that they are torturing kids by allowing them to grow up intact is not acceptable. He was acting like just another internet bully; not accepting anyone else’s words or views, not listening to anyone but activists who think like he does, and going with the idea that shouting people down is the best and only way to get them to go along with him.

Contrary to popular narrative, Mr. Zephyr has not been completely barred from speaking on behalf of his constituents. He can do so remotely, likely in an effort by his fellow representatives to prevent further episodes of unhinged ranting, unsupported statements, and vitriolic words and behavior intended to shame and bully them into agreeing with him. His constituents still have a voice, but the lesson for Mr. Zephyr and his Dark Blue constituents is: This isn’t the internet, kids, this is real life.

Of course, this isn’t what the news media are saying. NPR, which I lovingly call “National Propaganda Radio,” have fallen all over themselves to call Zooey Zephyr “female”, decrying the “misgendering” by the Montana legislature, and painting it as a hostile Right Wing Menace that has trampled all over free speech and democracy. The comments fall right in line with the black and white lines used by the trans rights activists, such as “if Republicans call guns transgender, maybe they’ll ban them!” and “Stop trying to silence the ***TQIA+ community!” and “Why is this not a violation of free speech?!” and “Republicans are scared!”

What’s more likely is that the legislature just doesn’t feel like being screamed at by some kid who got it into his head to run for office in 2020 and who they know likely won because he put on a dress and grew his hair out. That’s trendy now. They likely expect this kind of nonsense from “the bluest district in the state”.

Polarized thinking, which is increasingly a feature on both sides, means neither side believes the other side is coming from a position of good faith. I highly doubt Mr. Zephyr is going to take this opportunity to self-reflect. He and his minions will likely dig their heels in, cry that they’ve been silenced, all while dominating the news for the next few days. The poor kid who died is nowhere, of course.

Meanwhile, back in the state I call home, I took a personal day midweek to get some groceries. The main thoroughfare was lined with kids holding signs and screaming. Cars were blaring horns in support of whatever they were out rallying for or against. I stopped at a light and squinted to read the signs. It was the usual “Stop hate” and “Love always” and “Hate has no home here.” There were a few signs against racism. Like someone would have a sign for racism nearby. It made me mad that these kids were not in school, but instead were told to participate in a public political display.

When I got home I looked up what was going on. It was the “Unite Against Racism” sponsored by the YWCA – which now allows men into the women’s locker rooms. The name of the event was changed from “Stand Against Racism” because that was considered ableist. People had complained. Keep in mind there were people in this town who complained about the Planter’s Peanut Truck at a street fair because some people are allergic to peanuts. Apparently accepting “stand” as a metaphor was not an option, as was simply staying away from the peanut truck.

June is coming, and I can expect more Pride Parades and Youth Marches, pink and blue signs being waved by kids because their teachers told them to and everyone else is doing it. It chilled me to the bone to realize that these kids might consider me hateful, and even on a par with literal Nazis for saying sex is real and immutable and that it matters in terms of public policy and law. “Stand against Hate” is subjective, and anyone can fit the bill of “hateful” if we try hard enough. What happens when a child at this school says, “Wait, I don’t agree.”.

It also made me mad thinking about the kids my son deals with at the ice-cream store, who can’t do basic addition and subtraction and instead accuse him of swindling them. Why aren’t these kids learning math?

These kids are our next legislators, and they’ve been fed a steady diet of screaming, signs, internet memes and coercive echo chambers. They’re the next Zooey Zephyrs. They’ve grown up with the idea that even listening to a dissenting opinion is entertaining “hate”, and that empathy for a “lived experience” that doesn’t agree with the popular narrative is dangerous. There’s a reason why the kid who died disappeared from the news in a day, and Twitter accounts that posted the story were quickly silenced as lying bigots, while Zephyr’s tale of supposed woe is still going strong today.

Sean Patrick McCoy thought he was doing the right thing the night he stopped that logging truck. No doubt Zephyr believes he’s doing the right thing, too. The difference between the two is that McCoy was involved in hard, concrete, objective action: Stop the Logging Trucks. Stop the Logging.

Zephyr is more subjective. He wants others to suspend disbelief, to “just be kind,” to just take his word for it on his “lived experience,” whatever that means. He’s trusting all of us to go along with this idea that he is a woman, as he is clearly advertising with his skirts and long hair that has been loose in every news shot lately.

He doesn’t understand that if he stands up and lies about something as basic as his biological sex, how can anyone be expected to believe anything else that comes out of his mouth? The majority of Americans do not agree with him, and while he and his constituents are absolutely free to live however they choose, we do not have to believe it as well. More than that, we don’t have to enact public policy and law based on his beliefs, and we are not killing anyone by actually engaging in democracy.

McCoy likely had hard stats and figures about the logging operation he wanted to stop. It is doubtful Zephyr can say the same, given that his first salvo was “puberty is torture”, followed with “I hope you see blood on your hands.” What would any follow-up sessions look like had that been allowed to continue? Remember, the only way to go with that line of rhetoric is down. Appeals to emotion need to keep upgrading to be effective, so it could only get worse. The Montana Legislature was right to shut him down, and to make an example of him.

It’s one thing to be a kid on the side of the street with a sign, eliciting honks and cheers from passing cars. It’s something else to be enacting policy for a population of young people who are vulnerable to a dangerous, predatory medical industry as a result of an ideology bred from the darkest corners of the internet. The news cycle flashes by like so many passing cars, some honking in support and others like me, squinting at the signs and feeling a little chilled.

A legislative body ideally exists for representatives of populations to come together and discuss each other’s views in a structured environment so that everyone really does have their say. Zooey Zephyr wasn’t there for any of that. He had placed himself in that legislative body for one reason and one reason only: His moment in the spotlight. He got it.

And now everyday Americans like me, most of whom are likely feeling what Sean Patrick McCoy did as he dangled from ropes in a botched attempt at activism, will have to deal with the fallout.