The father of a transgender daughter is capturing national attention for his impassioned plea to Missouri state lawmakers.
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. More than 20 states are considering similar bills that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams.
While speaking to the state legislature on March 3, Boulware introduced himself as a business lawyer, a Christian and the son of a Methodist minister, and revealed that he initially struggled to support his “wonderful and beautiful” transgender daughter.
“One thing I often hear when transgender issues are discussed is, ‘I don’t get it — I don’t understand,’” Boulware said. “I didn’t get it either. For years, I didn’t get it.”
Boulware said that he forced his daughter to wear her hair cut short and play with “boy” toys, even though she identified as a female.
“I did not want my daughter or her siblings to get teased. And truth be told ... I wanted to avoid those inevitable questions."
“Why did I do this? To protect my child,” Boulware explained. “I did not want my daughter or her siblings to get 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 did not look and act like a boy.”
Boulware said his daughter was miserable.
“I cannot overstate that. She was absolutely miserable,” Boulware said. “Especially at school. No confidence, no friends, no laughter.”
Boulware then shared a story about the day that everything changed. He had returned home from work and found his daughter playing with her older sister in a dress she had "sneaked on."
“They wanted to go across the street and play with the neighbors' kids,” Boulware recalled.
When Boulware told them no, his daughter offered to change into boy clothes. If she took off the dress, then could she stay out a bit longer?
“It was then that it hit me. My daughter was equating being good with being someone else,” Boulware said. “I was teaching her to deny who she is. As a parent, the one thing we cannot do is silence our child’s spirit. So on that day, my wife and I stopped silencing our child’s spirit. The moment we allowed my daughter to be who she is, to grow her hair, to wear the clothes she wanted to wear, she was a different child. It was immediate. It was a total transformation.”
Boulware noted that he now has a “confident, a smiling, a happy daughter," who enjoys a wide variety of activities.
If HJR 53 passes, Boulware’s daughter will not be able to play on the girls volleyball or tennis team.
“I ask you please don’t take that away from my daughter or the countless others like her who are out there,” he pleaded. “Let them have their childhoods. Let them be who they are.”
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."