The father of a transgender daughter is capturing national attention for his impassioned plea to Missouri state lawmakers during a hearing on a resolution that would ban transgender high school athletes from participating in girls’ sports in Missouri.
In a video that has gone viral on Twitter, Brandon Boulware urges Missouri legislators to reject House Joint Resolution 53 (HJR 53), a bill which would require students to play sports on the team that reflects the sex on their birth certificates.
Twenty states are currently considering similar bills that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams.
One clip of Boulware’s speech has been seen more than 4 million times.
Introducing himself as “a lifelong Missourian, business lawyer, Christian and the son of a Methodist minister.”
“I’m a husband and father of four kids — two boys, two girls — including a wonderful and beautiful transgender daughter,” he said, adding that he came to the hearing on his daughter’s birthday and without telling her. “She thinks I’m at work.”
As Boulware continued, he said that many people simply “don’t get it” when it comes to transgender rights — including himself, when his daughter was young and began to come into her own.
“For years, I would not let my daughter wear girl clothes. I did not let her play with girl toys,” Boulware said. “I forced my daughter to wear boy clothes and get short haircuts and play on boys’ sports teams.”
Boulware did this, he said, in part because he did not want any of his children to be teased.
“And truth be told I did it to protect myself, as well. I wanted to avoid those inevitable questions as to why my child not look and act like a boy,” he said.
Boulware explained that by ignoring the wants and needs of his daughter, it ultimately made her “miserable” and did not change the fact that she was transgender.
“I cannot overstate that. She was absolutely miserable. Especially at school — no confidence, no friends, no laughter,” he said.
Still, Boulware continued, he turned a blind eye to his daughter’s own interests, forcing her to act like a stereotypical “boy.”
Until, one day, “everything changed.”
“I had gotten home from work, and my daughter and her brother were in the front lawn and she had sneaked on one of her older sister’s play dresses. And they wanted to go across the street and play with the neighbor’s kids … I said no,” Boulware said.
Growing emotional at the hearing, he continued: “She asked me 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.”
After that, Boulware stopped forcing his daughter to be someone she wasn’t.
The change was almost immediate: She grew her hair, she began dressing the way she wanted, she started having friends and she joined a girls’ volleyball team.
MUST WATCH: Brandon Boulware, the father of a transgender daughter, testifies during a hearing asking Missouri lawmakers to stop discriminating against trans youth. pic.twitter.com/bTuSoyE1nW
— ACLU (@ACLU) March 15, 2021
Boulware’s speech was shared by NBA star Dwayne Wade, who is the father of 12-year-old daughter, Zaya, who is transgender.
“I don’t know Brandon Boulware at all but I do know we have something real in common,” Wade wrote on Instagram. “Our kids are more than bedrooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms.”