Montana flag Capitol
A Montana flag flies in front of the Capitol building, photographed Thursday, Jan. 26. Credit: Samuel Wilson / Bozeman Daily Chronicle

This story is excerpted from Capitolized, a twice-weekly newsletter that keeps an eye on the representatives you voted for (or against) with expert reporting, analysis and insight from the editors and reporters of Montana Free Press. Want to see Capitolized in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday? Sign up here.

On Monday, Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, hosted a press conference in front of the Capitol, flanked by other Republican lawmakers, to denounce Internet rumors and speculation about her family following remarks Seekins-Crowe made on the House floor earlier this session about her daughter’s battle with depression.

The flashpoint started over Senate Bill 99, a ban on gender-affirming medical care that opponents and LGBTQ+ advocates say will put transgender minors at increased risk of suicide by blocking access to medical treatments for gender dysphoria. During a March House floor debate, Seekins-Crowe said she supported the bill and — in light of the references to teen suicide — referenced choices she made when her own daughter was struggling.

“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. 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 said. She did not identify her daughter as a member of the LGBTQ+ community or say anything about her seeking gender-affirming care.

Weeks later, a clip of the representative’s speech resurfaced on social media and, Seekins-Crowe said, was quickly misinterpreted by media outlets and online commentators. Her daughter, she clarified Monday, is not transgender and was “never considering any kind of transitioning.” What Seekins-Crowe said she meant to communicate was that she did not condone behaviors that were “destructive,” such as self-harm or refusing medical treatment.

In a now-deleted video posted to TikTok, Seekins-Crowe’s daughter, Ashley, addressed the inaccurate narrative alongside her partner. The story her mother recounted, she said, was more than a decade old. She said she’s alive and well and recently returned from a deployment with the U.S. military. Without addressing SB 99 or the broader topic of medical care for trans minors, the couple said they appreciated the concern expressed for Ashley and asked the public to respect their privacy.

“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.”

Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings

Seekins-Crowe said she and her family members had received threats and harassment in recent days and that she is not comfortable staying at her home. She used the press conference to blast media outlets that took her comments out of context or amplified sources spreading misinformation. 

“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. “Your callous indifference toward my family may be meaningless to you, but it has taken a toll on those I loved the most.”

None of the media outlets in attendance at the press conference — Lee newspapers, MTN News, the Daily Montanan and Montana Free Press — published articles or broadcast segments about Seekins-Crowe’s March comments.


Mara writes about health and human services stories happening in local communities, the Montana statehouse and the court system. She also produces the Shared State podcast in collaboration with MTPR and YPR. Before joining Montana Free Press, Mara worked in podcast and radio production at Slate and WNYC. She was born and raised in Helena, MT and graduated from Seattle University in 2016.