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Sunday, April 30, 2023


by Ann E. Wallace

The swift punishment brought down on Zooey Zephyr, a transgender lawmaker in Montana, began over words that others in American politics have used without hesitation or consequence: saying opponents have “blood” on their hands. The governor of Texas. A GOP congressman in Florida. A city councilwoman in Denver. Just in the past few years, they are among the elected officials who have chastised colleagues in government with the same pointed rhetoric almost word for word — accusing them of bearing responsibility for deaths — over everything from immigration policy to gun laws. None faced blowback, let alone retribution. But not Zephyr, who on Thursday began legislative exile after Montana Republicans barred her from the state House floor a week after saying those who voted to support a ban on gender-affirming care would have blood on their hands. —AP, April 27, 2023

This was her warning,
the cost of the ban 
on affirming healthcare 
for trans kids.
They would have blood
on their hands,
she said.
The words, or her body, labeled 
a breach of decorum,
they removed her,
silenced her voice
with a majority, 68 to 32. 
She may watch,
voiceless, may cast
her singular vote 
out of sight and from afar.
Hers is a body they do not want 
to see. And they do not want 
to hear about their own hand 
in doing harm, about the toll 
of bloody-handed legislation 
on kids, or on the adults 
like her who once were kids 
in need of votes and affirmation.
They removed her from their sight.
They will wash their hands 
with blood.
And her voice, 
it will grow stronger.

Ann E. Wallace is the Poet Laureate of Jersey City, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 or on Instagram @annwallace409.