The secret nerdy lives of your favorite trans power couple

An Interview with Representative Zooey Zephyr and journalist Erin Reed on their love of TTRPGs

The secret nerdy lives of your favorite trans power couple
Credit: Lin Codega

Sitting down to speak with Montana State Representative, Zooey Zephyr and renowned journalist Erin Reed, I had never been more nervous for an interview. These two women are pillars of the queer community, a trans politician/journalist power couple who have shaped what modern trans activism looks on the ground and online. And I’m here to talk to them about, of all things, Dungeons & Dragons.

If you’ve been following the onslaught of anti-trans legislation happening in the United States over the last few years, you’ve probably encountered their names. Rep. Zephyr—the first openly trans woman elected to Montana’s governing body—made national headlines last May after being censured by the state’s Republican-majority House of Representatives for speaking out against a bill that would restrict gender affirming care. Erin Reed’s independent coverage of anti-trans laws across the country has been paradigm shifting. If you’ve seen a map dictating which states are safe for queer people, and which are not, she’s made it. Her tireless work tracking the progress of these bills has prompted mobilizations at every level of government, showing that individuals can come together to create a society that reflects them and their values. 

They say never meet your heroes, but whoever they are, their heroes weren’t two of the most thoughtful, engaged, community-minded women I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. We spoke for so long, across so many topics, I simply will not be able to cover it all in one article. This will be the first of a two-part interview series, first focusing on their personal relationship to TTRPGs before examining how play, journalism, and politics are all intrinsically interconnected.

When asked about how they both began their relationship to TTRPGs, a light turned on in their eyes. Where typically I’ve seen righteous anger from these two women, either in a video reporting on the latest dehumanizing anti-trans bill or in speaking out on the House floor against the very lawmakers who proposed them, a joy radiated from Reed and Zephyr that reminded me these aren’t just two incredibly influential figures, they’re also human beings…who happen to be huge nerds.

It was the first space I was able to let other people know my name, let other people know who I was. [It] was the first space I came out in. So [tabletop games are] a meaningful space for me.

We Begin In A Tav… In A Web Forum