Kari Starr was watching her daughter go ahead to throw a shot put at her school’s track event last week when she heard an older man yell at the crowd of fourth grade girls to “get this kid off the field.” .
Starr’s 9-year-old daughter had just finished second in the disco event and was gearing up for the final event of the day. Starr didn’t think the man was talking about her.
But to her surprise, Starr told HuffPost that the man pointed at her daughter, who was sporting a new pixie cut and “floppy shorts,” and demanded to see the “certification” showing she was assigned female at birth. .
“I told him, ‘Sir, you are asking for a certificate determining what fabrics are on my daughter’s shorts. That’s not right,’” said Heidi Starr, the girl’s other mother.
Heidi Starr said she went up to the man and corrected him about his daughter’s gender.
She said the man, whom the school identified as the grandfather of a student at a nearby Okanagan Valley elementary school in British Columbia, pointed to his daughter and another student, who had similarly short hair, and said the two were “obviously trans.” She said the man’s wife yelled at everyone to “fuck off” and called Heidi and Kari Starr “hairdressers and genital mutilators.”
“The opening day was horrible. This is a girl who is very sure of who she is,” said Kari Starr. “She has two gay mothers, and before we broke up, we were always proud and holding hands with her and not talking back to anyone. So she never saw fear… but this really shook her.”
The Starr story, which was first published by the local media. Castanet last week, it was shared widely on social media, prompting outrage and concern from trans advocates in Canada and the United States at a time when right-wing figures are furiously fanning the flames of prejudice and anti-hatred. the LGBTQ+ community.
While Canada allows trans student-athletes to compete on the team of their choice, in the United States, 22 states have passed a ban on transgender students participating in teams that align with their gender identities, according to a map of the Movement Advancement Project.
Kari Starr said her daughter broke down in tears and trembled as the man yelled nearby, while other parents around them tried to comfort the girl with words of support.
“This is a girl who is very sure of who she is. She has two gay mothers, and before we split up, we were always proud and open.”
“I told him, ‘Sir, you need to see for yourself. This is a fourth and fifth grade elementary school track and field competition. Nobody is trying to manipulate the results,’” Kari Starr recalled, adding that the man promoted his past career as a professional athlete.
The girl’s mothers asked HuffPost not to identify their daughter, who is cisgender, citing privacy concerns.
Heidi Starr said a group of parent volunteers came up and moved the shot put circle to a different area to physically move the girls away from the man. But Starr said that his man and his wife were not leaving.
The man, who was watching his granddaughter compete, denied Castanet in a statement Tuesday that he yelled at the family or asked if the girl was transgender. She told the outlet that he had asked if the event was “co-ed.”
“I am not apologizing for that question I asked. Personally, I think I have the right to ask questions, and I always will for the rest of my life, ”he told Castanet.
The school district superintendent told Castanet that officials were taking steps to ban the man from all future school events. The Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Tuesday they are investigating the incident.
The disruption in track meet was upsetting and shocking to the Starrs, who said they raised their daughter in a diverse environment and a school district that welcomes people of all genders and sexualities.
However, Heidi Starr said the incident was not “unique” in her British Columbia community, where anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has flourished. By speaking out, she hopes to show people that hate speech will and has had real-life consequences, she said.
“The real big spike in anti-trans messaging has intensified,” he said. “But I ask people to take a moment when they see a hate-filled post… just to say something. People are so worried about the reaction that we have stopped standing up. I hope this encourages people to say something.”
On social media, Canadian and American advocates have shown their support for the Starrs’ daughter, warning that last week’s incident is the result of growing anti-trans rhetoric.
David Eby, the Prime Minister of British Columbia, condemned what happened on Twitter. “this is horrible. This type of hate is not acceptable or welcome in British Columbia,” he said. wrote.
The National Center for Transgender Equality also warned of increased surveillance of other people’s bodies.
“This is where anti-trans bigotry leads: to police the appearance and bodies of all women and girls. And that is deeply wrong. Enforcing rigid gender norms and policing girls’ bodies hurts everyone,” the US advocacy organization tweeted.
The Starrs said that despite the incident, their daughter is doing well and gets very distracted by soccer games and birthday parties. Heidi Starr said her daughter has nicknamed the man “crazy, creepy carrot boy.”
Kari Starr said the day after the track event, her daughter wanted to watch a “Britain’s Got Talent” video, which she and Starr have watched every night.
In the clip, members of a diverse dance troupe, including a lesbian couple, a girl with Down syndrome, and a non-binary person, express their determination to persevere in the face of discrimination.
“She said, ‘This is what it reminds me of,’ and immediately took a strong stance. She knows that there are nasty, nasty people who are ignorant of all these things. So it’s been an education for her that (the man’s) beliefs are not hers, or most people’s,” said Kari Starr.