Zooey Zephyr
Tommy Martino—AP

A record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills made their way through state legislatures in 2023. In April, Montana state representative Zooey Zephyr called out one such bill that would restrict gender-affirming care in her state, saying that those who supported it would have “blood on your hands”—setting off a chain of events that would make her one of the anti-trans bills’ most visible opponents coast to coast.

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The majority-­Republican body formally disciplined Zephyr by ­banning her from in-person debates for this year’s legislative session, and allowing her to vote only remotely. But Zephyr kept showing up at the capitol to represent her district, fighting for a seat in the hallway, even as her access to entrances, bathrooms, and workspaces was deactivated. Protests and national outcry ensued over Zephyr’s ­punishment, which critics called extreme and undemocratic. The ­Montana bill passed, but in the months since, Zephyr—now widely known for her work to combat it—has continued to use her national profile to champion protections for transgender ­Americans.

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Write to Sanya Mansoor at sanya.mansoor@time.com.

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