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LGBTQ Nation: Man accuses 9-year-old girl with short hair of being trans & leaves her sobbing


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A nine-year-old girl was verbally attacked during a track meet in British Columbia, Canada last week by a man who accused her of being transgender. The incident once again exposes how anti-trans panic around transgender women and girls participating in girls’ and women’s sports affects all female athletes.

One of the girl’s mothers, Heidi Star, tells local news site Castanet that her daughter was competing in the fourth-grade shot-put finals at a track and field event at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna, B.C., on June 8. As she stepped up to compete, the grandfather of another student competing in the event began yelling from the stands.


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“‘Hey, this is supposed to be a girls’ event, and why are you letting boys compete,’” the man shouted, according to Heidi Star, who said her daughter is cisgender, uses she/her pronouns, and wears her hair in a short pixie cut.

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Star said the man’s outburst brought the event to a halt and that he also indicated another student-athlete with short hair who he insisted was “obviously trans.”

According to Star, the man’s wife accused her of being “a genital mutilator, a groomer, and a pedophile,” while he insisted that she provide proof that her daughter was born female.

Star told Kelowna news site iNFOnews.ca that her daughter was left “shaking and sobbing.”

“All the kids that were there went, ‘This is gross. This is rude, why would he be doing this?’ The other child he pointed out just ran away altogether,” she said.

iNFOnews.ca reports that when organizers of the event, which brought together student-athletes from schools across the region, moved the shot-put finals to a pit away from where the man was seated, he followed. When teachers asked him to leave, he refused.

Central Okanagan School District 23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal said that the man was not from the district. But, Kaardal said, the district is “taking steps to ensure he is not able to be on our school property or attend events in the future.”

Star, who is a gay woman, said that her daughter has worked with a transgender coach and theater teacher and had a transgender cousin. “She completely understands the spectrum of gender and diversity,” Star said, adding that her daughter has never witnessed this kind of hatred before.  

The girl’s other mother, Kari Star, said that the incident destroyed their daughter’s confidence. “She was inconsolably crying during this whole event and continued once it was over and we were leaving. Not to mention, she was unable to concentrate on her track and field finals and the shot-put throw for which she had qualified,” she said.

“Mostly, she feels very sad whenever she thinks about it,” Heidi Star said. “It was really sad to be asked for a certificate to prove she’s a girl.”

Star, said she considers what happened to her daughter to be a hate crime. She said she filed a report with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police but was told that because officers did not witness the incident, there was nothing they could do.

“The biggest thing I’m really hoping is that policies will be put in place so that, when stuff like this happens police are called right away,” she said. “There was no protocol on what to do and we have to kind of accept that this is the world we live in and you’re going to get people who feel emboldened enough to do these atrocious things. It’s not fair to the parent volunteers at these events to be expected to navigate what are really criminal harassment matters.”

The incident demonstrates the detrimental effect panic around transgender athletes competing in girls’ and women’s sports can have on all athletes. In the U.S., several states have passed laws banning trans women and girls from participating on school sports teams that reflect their gender identity. Laws introduced by Republicans in states like Florida and Ohio that would have required student-athletes to be subjected to “genital examinations” in order to participate in girls’ sports have been defeated in state legislatures.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education (DOE) proposed a rule change that would allow K-12 schools and universities to limit the participation of transgender athletes in sports while also forbidding schools from completely banning trans athletes altogether.

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