HELENA — A Republican state lawmaker spoke out Monday, saying she’s faced personal attacks and even death threats over remarks she made during the debate over a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth – remarks she said were misconstrued.
Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, held a news conference outside the State Capitol on Monday, where she sharply criticized social media posts and media reports that she said took her statements out of context and assumed her motives – without speaking to her.
“This experience should be a lesson and a warning – a lesson to those living in the false reality of Twitter and online media, and those in the mainstream media who amplify unverified sources: Do better,” she said.
On March 23, Seekins-Crowe carried Senate Bill 99 on the House floor. At the end of the debate, she responded to opponents of the bill, who argued that withholding gender-affirming care could lead to a higher risk of suicide. She told a story about her own daughter, who had struggled with thoughts of suicide.
“Someone once asked me, wouldn't I just do anything to help save her?” Seekins-Crowe said. “And I really had to think. And the answer was no. I was not going to give in to her emotional manipulation, because she was incapable of making those decisions and I had to make those decisions for her. I was not going to let her tear apart my family, and I was not going to let her tear apart me, because I had to be strong for her. I had to have vision for her life when she had none.”
Seekins-Crowe’s daughter is not transgender. However, last week, posts on social media began recirculating a clip of those remarks, and some of those posts assumed that her daughter had been transgender – which was not accurate.
On Monday, Seekins-Crowe said she has received repeated threats.
“Calls, emails, messages, every source – to me, to my family members, to family that's out of state,” she told MTN after her news conference. “My daughter has been tremendously harassed in ways that are unimaginable.”
She said she has a strong relationship with her daughter, and she further elaborated on what she meant in her March statement.
“I would not let her do things that were destructive to her behavior because she needed help,” she said. “So what I would do was everything for my daughter, and I did everything for my daughter. And it was a struggle, but we made it together.”
In a video posted on social media – but since deleted – Seekins-Crowe’s daughter confirmed she was not transgender. She said the part of her life her mother had talked about was more than a decade ago and that she is now doing well.
Despite what has happened, Seekins-Crowe told MTN she didn’t regret telling the story.
“Right now, we need to message that that our children are in in crisis, our families are in chaos, and we need to figure out what those resources are,” she said. “That was probably part of the problem, was I didn't know what those resources were. I did not know where to go as a parent. I did not know where to go as somebody who was dealing with this myself. Those resources are out there, and we need to band together and figure out how to help our children.”
SB 99, signed into by Gov. Greg Gianforte last week, has drawn emotional and often-heated discussions throughout the session. It’s the same bill that Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, was speaking against when she made the remarks that led to House leaders deciding not to recognize her on the floor.
Seekins-Crowe defended her vote for the bill during her news conference.
“I will never back down,” she said. “I will always fight for what I believe is right. I'm a mother. I'm a citizen legislator. I am a conservative, and I am a champion for my constituents. Nothing you do or say will deter me from deter me from serving my God, my family and my district with a steadfast faith in the truth.”