As Daily Kos has covered, as the nation continues to face the novel coronavirus pandemic, GOP legislators are more than happy to spend valuable time pushing anti-trans measures across the nation. More than 20 exclusionary bills have swept the country, ranging in focus from making it a felony for physicians to provide gender-affirming care (such as hormone treatments) to transgender youth to barring transgender girls from participating on girls’ sports teams.
One recent effort comes out of Missouri, where Joint Resolution 53 seeks to ban transgender girls from competing on the girls’ public high school sports team. One’s gender would be determined by the biological sex listed on the student’s birth certificate, according to the bill. Notably, BJR 53 seeks to include the ban in the state constitution. As reported by The Advocate, if it passes in both houses of the state legislature, it could then go to the voters—which, given that we’re talking about civil rights, is a deeply concerning trajectory. One father and attorney, Brandon Boulware, is going viral for the speech he gave on March 3 at the Missouri House of Representatives where he spoke on his own journey to acceptance, and why, as the father of a trans daughter, it’s so important to him for legislators to reject the resolution.
In the clip, which has since gained millions of views after being recently shared by the American Civil Liberties Union, Boulware talked about his daughter asking if she could go and play with some kids in the neighborhood. Boulware said he told his daughter no and to come inside for the dinner. What’s the problem with that? According to Boulware, his daughter was wearing a dress belonging to one of her older sisters. His daughter was perfectly perceptive because according to Boulware, she asked him if she’d be allowed to go play if she “went inside and put on boys clothes."
"It was then that it hit me,” Boulware stated. “My daughter was equating being good with being someone else. I was teaching her to deny who she is. 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 our child's spirit." From there, Boulware described his daughter as having a “total transformation” into a confident, happy daughter, with friendships. He noted she played on the girls’ volleyball team.
Boulware said that he initially “forced” his daughter to play on boys' sports teams and dress in “boy clothes” both to “protect” his child and to “protect” himself.
“I wanted to avoid those inevitable questions as to why my child did not look and act like a boy,” he admitted. While certainly not the response any young person wants to have from their parents, it’s likely a reaction many family members can relate to. This point is by no means a justification or “pass” for parents ignoring the very valid wants of their kids; rather, hopefully it’s an opportunity for parents and guardians to relate to Boulware’s honest admission and see that change and growth are possible, and that facing their real fears—anxiety over their children’s safety, as well as, to a degree, their own comfort—can lead to a healthy transformation.
Now, Boulware wants legislators to let transgender kids “have their childhoods” and “be who they are.” In specifics, he said that the legislation would mean “she cannot play on the girls' volleyball team, dance squad, or tennis team” and that she would not have the “opportunity that all of us had to be part of a team."
As Daily Kos covered at the time, back in February, an anti-trans bill that would make it a felony for physicians to provide gender-affirming health care to transgender and nonbinary youth made it to Alabama’s state House Judiciary Committee. During the public hearing, a father gave an emotional statement on behalf of his openly transgender daughter (who, according to the dad, gave her blessing for him to speak) about his own journey in acceptance, parenting, and how importance trans-inclusive legislation and medical care are for transgender folks.
You can check out Boulware’s testimony below.