A Montana Republican said she would not allow her daughter to manipulate her by threatening suicide.
She made the comment in a speech defending her support for a bill banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
State Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe (R-Billings) argued on the House floor that parents have a responsibility to make decisions in their child’s best interest, but should not allow their child’s threats of self-harm to sway their decision.
She pointed to her own adult daughter — who is not transgender — as an example of a child who struggled with suicidal ideation.
“One of the big issues that we have heard today — and we’ve talked about lately — is that without surgery, the risk of suicide goes way up,” Seekins-Crowe said during a floor debate last week. “Well, I am one of those parents who lived with a daughter who was suicidal for three years.
“Someone once asked me, ‘Wouldn’t I just do anything to help save her?’ And I really had to think and the answer was, ‘No,'” she continued.
“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 recounted feeling “lost” and “scared,” spending hours praying for her daughter’s well-being all the while uncertain of whether her daughter would attempt suicide. But she felt that, as her parent, she had to make a decision that would be in her daughter’s best interest.
Opponents of the ban, which prohibits doctors from recommending any gender-affirming treatment for minors, including puberty blockers or hormone therapy, pushed back against Seekins-Crowe’s assertions that surgery is widely performed on transgender minor. They noted that most specialists in transgender medicine advise waiting until adulthood to pursue surgical interventions.
They also argue that puberty blockers, which delay the onset of secondary sex characteristics, are reversible and can give trans children time to discover their identity without exacerbating their feelings of gender dysphoria.
According to a 2020 study, transgender adults who were able to access puberty blockers as teens experience lower rates of suicidal ideation as adults.
Video of Seekins-Crowe’s remarks went viral on social media, leading many to criticize her for characterizing dysphoric teens as “emotionally manipulating” their parents if they seek out medical interventions to delay puberty.
“I vehemently disagree with this speech by GOP state rep Kerri Seekins-Crowe,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). “But you know what she didn’t say? That it should be the government’s role to make personal decisions for families. Why is she now shoving her private decision down other people’s throats?”
I vehemently disagree with this speech by GOP state rep Kerri Seekins-Crowe. But you know what she didn’t say? That it should be the government’s role to make personal decisions for families. Why is she now shoving her private decision down other people’s throats? https://t.co/Fuyu2q42CJ
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 28, 2023
Seekins-Crowe — who criticized Twitter commentators for wrongly assuming her daughter was transgender, as well as some media members for playing the clip of her speech “out of context” — claims that she has received threats for her support of the bill, and that her daughter has been harassed.
The lawmaker elaborated on what she was trying to say during her House floor speech — that parents have a responsibility to ensure their children aren’t making choices that will harm them in the long-term — in a brief interview with Helena-based NBC affiliate KTVH.
“I would not let her do things that were destructive to her behavior because she needed help,” Seekins-Crowe said, adding that her daughter is now in a better place mentally and emotionally. “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.”
The bill Seekins-Crowe supported ultimately passed and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte last Friday.
The controversy surrounding the bill — and the fallout from the House debate on it — has continued.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula) gave a sharp-tongued speech opposing the bill, in which she claimed those who voted for the bill would have “blood on their hands” if transgender children were to commit suicide due to being denied treatments for gender dysphoria. Her rhetoric outraged Republicans, who demanded she be censured or expelled from the body for her choice of words.
Subsequently, Montana House Speaker Matt Regier refused to allow Zephyr to comment on bills brought to the floor until she apologized — something she declined to do.
The Democratic lawmaker, who is the state’s first-ever transgender person elected to the legislature, was ultimately censured and barred from the House chamber for violating “decorum” after she held up a microphone to amplify the voices of protesters in the House gallery who interrupted the session in order to demand that she be recognized and allowed to speak.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana — which filed a since-dismissed lawsuit demanding that Zephyr’s censure be reversed — has indicated it intends to sue in court to block the state from seeking to enforce the underlying bill banning youth from accessing gender-affirming care.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!