Montana Governor, Whose Child Is Nonbinary, Signs Law Defining 'Sex' as Only Male or Female
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed into law a bill that defines 'sex' as a binary in Montana law, weeks after his child, who identifies as nonbinary, urged him not to
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed into law a bill that defines "sex" as a binary in Montana law, weeks after his child, who identifies as nonbinary, urged him not to.
Over the weekend, the Montana governor signed the controversial anti-LGBTQ+ measure — known as Senate Bill 458 — which will define the word “sex” in state law as only male or female. The law is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.
In a statement, the governor’s press secretary, Kaitlin Price, said the law "codifies the long-recognized, commonsense, immutable, biologically-based definition of sex, male and female, while protecting people born intersex and not infringing on transgender individuals’ ability to identify with whatever gender, but not sex, they wish."
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But opponents argue that it effectively erases those who are transgender, nonbinary, Two-Spirit or intersex from state law. In an April House floor debate on the measure, state Rep. SJ Howell, who is transgender and nonbinary, argued that many Montanans don't consider themselves "male" or "female."
“The reality is that there are people who are out living their lives, Montanans, our friends and community members, who who do not fit into these definitions just because of their medical and biological reality,” Howell said, per Montana's KTVQ.
Howell continued: "Imagine my dismay at discovering that a state like Montana, my state, my home, says the government knows better. There’s two boxes, you got to choose, end of story.”
Gianforte's own child was among those who opposed the measure, which is one of several recent bills in Montana targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
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David Gianforte — a resident of Bozeman, Montana, who identifies as nonbinary and goes by both "he" and "they" pronouns — told the Montana Free Press that they initially expressed opposition to the bill to their dad via email, asking "as your constituent and your son" for him to veto the bills when they reach his desk.
The governor wrote back within hours, the Free Press reports, saying, "I would like to better understand your thoughts and concerns. When can we get together to talk about it?" He signed the email: "Love, Dad."
"I do have a family relationship with my father that I'm trying to preserve," David told the outlet, noting that in past legislative sessions, they've kept quiet about their opinions. "I felt that the best way to go about this would be to reach out to him in a more formal manner. And he was very willing to meet with me."
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So, in late March, the two met for a formal appointment at the governor's office, with David reading from a prepared statement that read, in part: "I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights."
Ultimately, though, Gov. Gianforte chose not to veto the bill, with David telling the Free Press: "He is concerned about his career ... And I believe that that affects his decisions on some of these bills."
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