JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A father with a transgender daughter provided a powerful testimony against a new amendment being considered in Missouri that would require student athletes to be divided on the basis of sex assigned at birth.
Brandon Boulware, a lawyer and father of four, testified before the Missouri House of Representatives in a public hearing on March 3. And on Sunday, the ACLU posted a video of the testimony on social media, where it soon went viral.
Boulware began his remarks by explaining that he wasn’t always so supportive of his transgender daughter.
“One thing I often hear when transgender issues are discusses is, ‘I don’t get it, I don’t understand.’ And I would expect some of you to have said that and to feel the same way,” said Boulware. “I didn’t get it either. For years, I didn’t get it.”
For years, Boulware says he wouldn’t let his daughter wear “girl clothes” or let her play with “girl toys,” and instead forced her to wear boy clothes, get short haircuts and play on boys’ sports teams. He said he did so because he thought he was protecting his child from being teased and he wanted to avoid “inevitable questions” about why his child acted differently.
“My child was miserable. I cannot overstate that. She was absolutely miserable, especially at school, no confidence, no friends, no laughter. I can honestly say this – I had a child who did not smile,” said Boulware. “We did that for years. We did that against advice from teachers, therapists and other experts.”
Boulware went on to say that he remembers the day that changed the way he parented his daughter. One day when he got home from work, he says his daughter had sneaked on one of her older sister’s play dresses and asked to go play across the street with the neighbors’ kids.
When he said no, she asked her dad if she went inside and put on boy clothes, could she then go across the street and play.
“And it was then that it hit me. My daughter was equating being good with being someone else. I was teaching her to deny who she is,” said Boulware. “As a parent, the one thing we cannot do, the one thing, is silence our child’s spirit. And so, on that day, my wife and I stopped silencing out child’s spirit.”
Boulware said when he and his wife allowed their daughter to be who she is, she was a different, happier child.
“It was a total transformation,” he said. “I now have a confident, a smiling, a happy daughter. She plays on girls’ volleyball teams. She has friendships. She’s a kid.”
Boulware said he chose to testify, because he wants the state lawmakers to understand that the language in the proposed legislation would have real effects on people.
“It will affect my daughter. It will mean that she cannot play on the girls’ volleyball team, or dance squad, or tennis team,” he said. “I ask you, please don’t take that away from my daughter, or the countless others like her who are out there. Let them have their childhoods, let them be who they are. I ask you to vote against this legislation.”
Missouri is one of several states that are considering legislation that seeks to restrict sports and gender confirmation health care for transgender minors.
Specifically, House Joint Resolution (HJR 53) would require students in the state to play sports on the team that reflects the sex on their birth certificates. It’s different from many other measures in that it would amend the state’s constitution.
The bill is making its way through House committees now, but if it’s adopted, it would force a statewide vote on the matter, since it would change the state constitution.