Dad’s Emotional Testimony Against Transgender Sports Ban Goes Viral

Brandon Boulware spoke in front of the Missouri House of Representatives, asking lawmakers to think again about a proposed transgender sports ban in schools

In life, there are few certainties. Chrissy Teigen will always dunk on trolls. Never start a land war in Asia. Mess with their kiddos, and parents will square up. Every time.

The latter happened earlier this month when Brandon Boulware gave his testimony as a loving parent in front of the Missouri legislature. Boulware spoke to the legislature in an effort to ask the body to nix a proposed transgender sports ban in the state’s schools. His daughter, Boulware said, was “absolutely miserable,” the attorney told the Missouri legislature earlier this month.

The ACLU shared the video on social media.

The attorney told those gathered about how he and his wife allowed his transgender daughter to wear the clothes she felt most comfortable in, grow her hair out, and play on girls’ sports teams. The father of four urged lawmakers not to pass a bill that would force his daughter to quit her tennis team, dance squad, and volleyball team by making students play on teams based on the sex listed on their birth certificates.

In a passionate speech, Boulware begged the legislature to rethink its plan. “I ask you, please don’t take that away from my daughter, or the countless others like her who are out there,” Boulware said. “Let them have their childhoods, let them be who they are. I ask you to vote against this legislation.”

Kristen Johnson said Boulware’s speech gave her chills.

“My child was miserable. I cannot overstate that,” Boulware said. “Especially at school. No confidence, no friends, no laughter. I can honestly say this: I had a child who did not smile.”

The pleas of a parent to consider their child touched the internet. Dwayne Wade weighed in with an Instagram post.

Boulware explained to the legislature how he came to his point of view. He told the galley about how his daughter had put on one of her older sister’s dresses and asked if she could go play with neighbors.

When Boulware told her no because it was time for dinner, his daughter’s answer rattled him: “She asked me, if she went inside and put on boy clothes, could she then go across the street and play? And it’s then that it hit me. My daughter was equating being good with being someone else. I was teaching her to deny who she is.”

At that moment, Boulware said, he and his wife never asked their daughter to act like a boy again.

Is there anything better than a parent who totally has their kid’s back? Jennifer Lopez appreciated the love in Boulware’s remarks.

“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,” Boulware added. “It was a total transformation. I now have a confident, a smiling, a happy daughter.”

Boulware said the bill’s supporters incorrectly claim that transgender athletes who play on girls’ teams have an advantage over their biological female teammates.

“That is not really the situation,” Boulware said in an interview with The Washington Post, stating that some transgender children receive hormone therapy which lowers the level of testosterone in their bodies. “What these people are trying to do is score cheap political points at the cost of kids.”

Boulware told The Post he was amazed at how viral his statement went. The proud dad hopes his candor about his own experience as a father might influence lawmakers in Missouri and elsewhere.

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Making Friends As An LGBTQ Parent Is Not Easy, And COVID-19 Doesn’t Help

Friendships are hard to come by at any age, but especially right now. Some of my closest friends are the ones I have from college, a very small circle of people. The other group of friends I have are the ones I’ve acquired from various jobs over the years. Since becoming a parent, I’ve been very intentional about keeping a small friend circle — a group of people in my life who understand the intricacies of being a gay parent.

With COVID-19 promising to stick around for some time, maintaining my friendships is now accomplished mostly through text messages. And now, as we try to maintain some normalcy for our kids and help them keep up their friendships, I’m asking myself if it’s worth putting energy into trying to make new friends of my own, to befriend the parents of my kids’ friends. I don’t know, and I am far from figuring it out.

It’s exhausting to make new friends and even more time consuming to maintain said friendships. Parenthood can be a very lonely endeavor from conception. When my kids started daycare, I thought I’d perhaps make friends with the parents of their toddler friends as we crossed paths at drop-off or afternoon pick-up. For me, that never happened. There is a huge part of me that feels like I am putting undue pressure on myself to make new friends simply because of the isolation we’ve all been in — and then, there’s the fact that I am an introvert.

A simple internet search of “how to make friends with other parents” points to a helpful New York Times article that gives clear advice on how to make friends as a parent. The top three ways, according to this article, are: “start close to home,” “make the first conversational move,” and “find an online parenting group that’s right for you.” It reminds me of online dating, and how awkward it all feels at first until you find your groove or that person who you enjoy talking to. But COVID-19 makes that even more challenging.

Mom of one, Anrielle George, says she and her wife haven’t made any new parent friends since the pandemic began. “There is nowhere I feel safe enough to gather,” she told Scary Mommy. “Even at drop off or pick up at daycare, our daughter is taken at the exterior door and brought to us at the door. We have never seen inside the building, let alone the classroom. I think this plays a huge role; interaction with everyone is different and limited. Maybe gaydar isn’t as effective through masks?”

Perhaps Anrielle is onto something here; safety plays a role in how far we can push the possibility of making friends. Our “gaydar,” she reminded me, is less effective when we cannot see the entirety of someone’s face. Body language is interpreted differently, and we must find new ways to assess the intentions of strangers — the way that we, as gay people, keep ourselves safe and our kids safer by observing their behavior.

And then there’s step two — to initiate conversations and be the first to do so, which is hard enough in normal times. We must use our words (something we also teach our kids to do) to not only make friends, but to understand the kind of person we are dealing with. This can be nerve wracking for anyone, but it’s even more so if you’re gay; will they be a closed-minded bigot? Just as importantly, how will their kids react to yours? Add the pandemic into the mix, when social distancing is a necessity, and easing into a comfortable conversation is nearly impossible.

One of the pieces of advice in the New York Times article that stuck with me is to initiate conversations free of expectations. Melanie Dale, author of “Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends” and mom of three, states in the article, “If another mom tells you she can’t hang out, she may just be busy or maybe she was burned from her last friendship and she’s nervous.” In other words, we shouldn’t try to predetermine where a potential new friendship is going to lead, so we won’t be disappointed (or take it personally) if the conversation ends up going nowhere.

I don’t have time to invest in others when they do not have time to invest in me. As a gay parent, I have high expectations for the people I let into my life. But perhaps if COVID-19 is teaching me anything, it’s that I should expect nothing and be more flexible not only with my expectations, but how I make friends — if I make friends.

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I’m In My 30s And I’m Finally Ready To Come Out

I’m going to jump right in and get real with y’all. It’s time to get something off my chest, because the weight of it is just too damn heavy to hold anymore. I’ve been living for over 20 years with an epic secret only a few people know.

You ready? Okay. Here goes nothin’.

My name is Lindsay Wolf, and I’m bisexual.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

I’m just going to repeat that because dayummm, that felt good to say out loud! I, Lindsay Wolf, love the dudes and the ladies.

If I’m being 100% honest – which I want to be, duh! – I should inform you that I also love everyone else too. Basically since I was a young teen, I’ve identified as someone who believes that romantic relationships transcend gender. And bisexuality has been the label that feels like the best way to describe all of that.

This is literally the first time in my entire life that I’m talking about being bisexual so openly. So, I guess you could say this is me officially coming out to you.

Congratulations. You have, in a really awesome way, become my immediate support system. Thank you for sticking around, because I have some things to say.

I’ve been crushing on girls since middle school, but I didn’t realize it was actual attraction until one of my high school besties and I were dared to kiss one night. I was about 16 at the time, and she was one of the most popular girls at our school. Her lips were soft and full, and I didn’t want to stop kissing them. Of course, I awkwardly pulled away, pretending like it wasn’t the most magical experience of my young life.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

But it sure as hell was.

I wish this was my only memory of that amazing kiss, but some A-hole at my school totally ruined it for me. As I sat in English class the next day, he randomly blurted out details of our smooch that made me realize my entire grade had been gossiping about it. The whole room started laughing, and I felt the hot sting of tears as I ran out. My English teacher made the kid follow me down the school halls and apologize to me. While I appreciate that he did, it certainly would have felt better if no one had talked to me about it ever again.

Then my little brother began noticing that I was dressing differently and in true rival sibling fashion, he started playfully ragging on me for looking like a stereotypical lesbian. It wasn’t very long before I changed my style to something else.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

At night, I felt most safe to be myself. I’d stay up until the early morning with my bedroom door locked, watching gay women kiss in movies like “If These Walls Could Talk Too,” “But I’m a Cheerleader,” and my personal favorite, “Gia.” Angelina Jolie had it goin’ on, and I was totally hooked from the first moment I saw her gorgeous face onscreen. I immediately splattered photographs all over the walls above my bed. My mom thought it was because she inspired me, and I guess you could say, she did. She inspired me to feel things I’d never felt before in ways I never thought I could.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

I had this wacky idea that when I went off to college, I’d find a willing BFF and we’d hop around gay clubs as a way of finally getting to experiment with my sexuality. At the time, I was definitely attracted to boys too, but they were easy to crush on because I was expected to like them. But girls? That was like a tucked away cookie jar I couldn’t tell anyone that I desperately wanted to reach into.

Just three months into my freshman year, something unexpected happened. I fell in love with the man who would become my first husband. And that’s when shit got really messy. Because while I was very much in a long-term relationship with a college boy, that didn’t stop me from drunkenly making out with every single woman who was interested.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

This was, as you’d expect, a very confusing thing for my boyfriend to make sense of. Especially when the sloppy drunk kissing turned into semi-sexual experiences. And TBH, he started jumping in at a certain point, even if he didn’t fully understand why I was doing what I was doing. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em, amiright? Through it all, he supported me as I wildly danced in the chaos of figuring out exactly how to be the most authentic version of myself possible.

Unfortunately, being authentic also came at a painful cost. One college summer, I dyed my hair red, chopped it all off, and after years of disordered eating, happily gained a little bit of weight. I came home, super confident and so ready to tell my younger teenage siblings that I was bisexual. But as I was in the middle of officially coming out to them in our family’s kitchen, my mom quickly barged in. Terrible words about my sexuality were flung at me. Shame-inducing statements about my appearance were made. And there was a whole lot of yelling.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

That’s the day I moved out of my childhood home and began living with my dad. That’s also the day I stopped talking about being attracted to women. The radical phase of sliding lips with the ladies had ended, and before I knew it, I was married to my college sweetheart.

And then four years later, we got divorced.

Heartbreak is a bitch, as most of you know. But the end of my marriage also felt like a liberating beginning, as I could finally open myself up to the possibility of dating both men and women. I wish I could say that I did just that. But I didn’t. I lost all confidence and got scared as hell when a few of the ladies I was flirting with on a dating app wanted to actually meet in person. I had never given myself the chance to tangibly show up in this way before, and now that the moment was upon me, I was fucking terrified to seize it.

Again, I eventually fell in love with and married a man who is now my ultimate life partner. We have two adorable young kids of our own, and I’m also the stepmom to his 13-year-old daughter. Once I met my husband Matt, I thought I’d need to stuff my true sexuality as deep down inside of me as humanly possible. Which makes sense, since most of my past experiences had taught me that who I really was didn’t jibe with the Lindsay everyone else expected me to be.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

But when a young family member in my life began vulnerably questioning their own sexual identity, I knew I had to get honest with Matt and myself.

It took several long talks, and by the end of them, I felt closer to Matt than ever. Not only did he accept my bisexuality, but he’s totally cool with me openly crushing on the same female celebrities as him. As of right now, it’s Lizzo, Scarlett Johansson, and Tess Holliday.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

My name is Lindsay Wolf, and I am — finally! — an out and proud bisexual woman.

If you’re reading this and you have yet to come out as however you identify, I want you to know that I’ve been there. It’s so damn hard to own who you truly are, especially when the world around you is feeding you the lie that it’s not okay to be yourself. And it’s even more challenging to allow yourself to be fully seen by others, regardless of what they may think about you. But after surviving the hardest mental health year of my whole life, I’ve realized that I don’t want to spend another minute pretending to be someone I’m not.

I’m ready to be exactly who I am. And who I am is absolutely wonderful.

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My Ex Is Trans, And This Is What Co-Parenting Is Like For Us

The first time I heard the word “gay,” it was hurled at me as an insult in the 5th grade. It was 1997, and Ellen DeGeneres had come out, but I was in Catholic school, so that wasn’t exactly a headline we looked at. Gay wasn’t something that was discussed in any sort of loving way. It was mean, and insulting; a demeaning word.

Things have changed.

In the last 20 years, things have become immeasurably more inclusive. Gay isn’t an insult; it is part of a rainbow that includes so many amazing people. If my life had followed the path I had imagined it would way back in those elementary school days, this would have been more than enough for me to casually move on with my life. I would sit with old copies of Time Magazine to sort through, giving a warm grin at old headlines about Ellen blazing the trail on TV, before adding to the pile in the recycling bin.

Except that’s not how life played out. My journey took a sharp detour that introduced me to that beautiful rainbow of people, and I found my place in it. I married into it, too. The man I married helped me build a family, and we brought Bug into the world; a brilliant and kind little girl with her heart on her sleeve. Then that man told me HER truth.

Madeline told me she was trans when our daughter was just over a year old. We sat and talked, and cried, and then looked at our child. Whatever the world was like for us, we couldn’t begin to guess how it would impact her. However, we both agreed that one of the early lessons we wanted to teach was that, no matter what, living true to yourself is paramount. So transition began.

Eventually, Madeline and I parted ways, but worked damn hard to build a functioning co-parent relationship. It took time, and we have become amazing friends. It has helped being a team because we now are seeing that Bug’s world is complicated.

In preschool, the kids were amazing. They were unflappable. Of course, Bug had two moms, it didn’t matter as long as she could still play. Then Bug got invited to a birthday and when Madeline tried to call to RSVP, she never got a response.

When I called, I was greeted warmly. “I was waiting for her real Mom to call.” My heart sank. It was my first glimpse into what society needs to work on. Gay may not be a worry, but trans isn’t exactly on the up and up.

Yeah, the shows like Transparent, Sense 8, and Orange is the New Black feature amazing trans actors, but the subject of being trans is still being developed in the mainstream. Let alone being trans with a small child. This is new. This is terrifying.

For Bug.

It means we call summer camps to ask what their anti-bullying policies are. It means that we show a united front at events with other parents, to somehow make things seem…normal (the very notion of “normal” weirds me out). It means we sit at parent-teacher meetings to hear about how Bug is head strong but sensitive and, God forbid anyone asks about her Mama Madeline. Bug doesn’t want to lie, but she has seen people be rude to her mama when they find out that she was born a man. She has seen cops surround her Mama because she was filling the car with gas and someone called the police on her (for the reasons we can all clearly assume).

“She gets scared when people ask. She doesn’t want to answer.” I am forever grateful for her kindergarten teacher, who worked with Bug tirelessly to remind her that her family is just as perfect as anyone else’s.

When I was 9 years old, I came home in tears because someone called me gay.

At 6-years-old, Bug has come home in tears because her friends don’t know how it’s possible that she doesn’t have a dad, but used to until he became a she.

So Madeline and I talk and try to find ways for her to feel secure in her peculiar normal. And as much as we can, we try to put a layer of bubble wrap around her as long as she still believes that bruises can be healed with a kiss, cats can wear people clothes, and that everyone must have a good heart.

I know that there will be some who read this and scoff. We’ve heard most of it at this point, nonsense about how Madeline had the choice. To that, I say that after the second hospital trip due to a depression-induced breakdown, the pressure of presenting as a man would have led Madeline to suicide. I would rather Bug grow up with two moms and some confusion, rather than one mom and the gaping hole left behind by a Mama who couldn’t handle living a lie anymore.

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I Am A Tired Mama Too, But My Reasons Are Different Than Yours

I am tired. Drag-my-brain-through-the-day tired. Force-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other tired. The physical and emotional labor of being a parent is exhausting. But I am also a gay parent, and the layers of my exhaustion are thicker than other parents’. I have three kids; one is transgender. I am married to a woman and am a gender nonconforming, vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and education. I treat my advocacy like it is another child or spouse. I am committed to it. I also use it as a shield or buffer to explain my family to others.

You know how your kids nettle you with questions all day long? Asking the same thing over and over again, wanting a different answer than the one you already gave? Wanting any answer to satisfy a curiosity or to cure an impatience that doesn’t allow them to figure shit out on their own?

Sometimes I feel that way when it comes to people’s unflinching need for information about same-sex marriage or gay parenting. You may not say it’s a big deal, but damn, you sure do ask a lot of questions.

Are you both the parents? Who is the real mom?

How did you get your kids? Did you adopt? Oh, sperm donor? How does that work? Oh, not IVF?

What do they call you? How do they know who to ask for if you are both Mama?

Are you worried they don’t have a father in their lives? Do you worry they are missing out on something?

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Father’s Day?

No one asks these questions of straight people or couples—families that fit society’s idea of normal.

Acceptance does not come with the need for you to understand our differences; it comes with the need for you to see and respect them. Acceptance asks that you try to empathize with how challenging it can be to be the minority. I am insulted by the expectation that it is my job to make you feel more comfortable or informed by spoon feeding you my personal information.

Don’t get me wrong. I happily tell our story, especially for those of you who really do have the best intentions. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get tired of telling it, of the need to tell it. You know that one book your kid wants you to read every night? It’s a good one, but fuck, you read it every night. You wish you could skip pages or words, but your kid will know. So in order to get through bedtime, you just read it. You have a love-hate relationship with that book. I love talking about our sperm donor, our kids’ donor siblings, and the dynamics with each, but sometimes I wonder if this is what it feels like for a band to play their favorite hits over and over. I feel grateful, but kind of sick of myself. I love advocating for my transgender daughter, but I wonder when all the information I carry will be common knowledge.

I am actively fighting against bigots and ignorance, so it is especially exhausting when I also have to help my allies and passive supporters be better allies. It takes away from the energy and time I need to fight blatant hate and inequality when I am busy trying to make allies feel okay with making mistakes. Apologize, move on. Try again and do better. I realize this is a tricky position. I want the best allies in town, but I also can’t be responsible for their creation and ongoing tutelage. I really want you to keep trying, but please don’t ask me to validate your attempts.

When my partner and I venture to unknown places with our kids, we are not always assumed to be a nuclear family. And when we travel, I worry about our safety at certain rest stops or gas stations. I am always assessing the people, the stares, the confusion or judgment on peoples’ faces. People are unflinchingly curious about who we are and how we made our family.

For those of you who don’t accept families like mine and people like me—like me, as if I am unworthy of existing or a thing that is less than human—I still tell our story. But the way I tell it changes with each person I encounter. I am constantly trying to find common ground to best have my message heard. How best to convey what it’s like to be a queer parent in a sea of straight ones? How best to help people see my transgender daughter as just a little girl who deserves love and respect? How best to tear down gender stereotypes and challenge gender roles? Yes, this is exhausting.

Because I don’t have any biological connection to my children, I may be considered a stranger to them depending on where we are. Gay marriage and gay parenting and the rights that go with both vary state by state. Yes, gay marriage is legal, but that does not stop people from discriminating against us. And if we travel out of the country, we are at even higher risk. I lose my rights as my partner’s caretaker and decision-maker in the case of medical emergencies. I lose my rights to my kids. MY KIDS.

To best protect my family and my rights, we spent money we didn’t really have on meeting with a lawyer to draft documents that legally made me guardian to my unborn children and made me my partner’s health care executor. We created wills to protect our rights to each other’s physical property and financial records. And when our children were born, I started the process to adopt them. We filed petitions to the local courthouse to skip social worker visitations and a waiting period before I could adopt them, but I had to go through rigorous background checks, finger printing, and the evaluation of my character before someone legally approved my parental status.

Raising three kids, running a house, and maintaining a marriage and career take the life right out of you. During the second-parent adoption process, I was attempting to balance my life as a parent, a partner, and individual while also trying to prove my worth in each role.

I live as an advocate. I am constantly making myself available. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it is exhausting. I am tired. When I take my kids to the park, on vacation, or to school, I am also taking precaution. I plan ways to protect them and myself from inconsiderate comments and stares. I pack legal documents to validate my relationship to them. I bring a list of materials, requests, background information and a brain full of worry to every new doctor, teacher, coach, or camp counselor.

I live as a parent. I live as a gay parent. I am tired.

But I live with love. I lead with love. I want you to do the same. Follow my lead. Expect more out of yourselves and less out of me. Expect more out of our neighbors. I and so many others in the LGBTQ community will carry on, but we need to rest sometimes too. We are tired. Let us rest our exhausted minds and weary hearts on you.

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