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LGBTQ advocates and families fight back against Missouri bill restricting trans athletes

A St. Louis County resident says his family has felt nothing but support from their community ever since their 8-year-old son came out as transgender.
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 8:28 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - St. Louis County resident and Rabbi Daniel Bogard said his family has felt nothing but support from their community ever since their 8-year-old son came out as transgender.

“He always felt like a boy and he always knew he was a boy. He just didn’t have the language for that,” said Bogard. “So, he began to socially transition when he was 6. It was a few months before the pandemic began, and, actually, he came to us with a new name the day before lockdown and was very excited to go back to school and tell his friends.”

His son has since played on male sports teams at school, from basketball to soccer.

“When you love a trans person in the state of Missouri, you have to defend them from their state government,” said Bogard. “The only bullies in his life work for the Missouri government, and it terrifies us.”

A Missouri bill now threatens to limit some transgender student athletes from participating on certain sports teams. If passed, SB 781 would prohibit a transgender female born as a male from participating in middle school, high school and collegiate level women’s sports. Proponents of the bill argue doing this would eliminate any unfair physical advantage transgender women may have over other players. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, claims the bill is “protecting women’s sports.”

Other states have proposed and adopted similar legislation against transgender female athletes, which LGBTQ advocates say is creating a problem where it does not exist.

“[It’s] really trying to pit children against other children and devalue the lives of transgender youths across the state, across our country,” said Shira Berkowitz.

Berkowitz is with PROMO Missouri, an LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying nonprofit organization. They spoke out on Tuesday, along with parents and allies of the LGBTQ community during a Senate Education Committee meeting that took up the bill for discussion.

“When we hear supporters speaking about transgender athletes, they’re talking about elite athletes, Olympic athletics, professional athletes, where even the problem doesn’t exist inside those sports realms,” Berkowitz said. “The NCAA has language around how to accept transgender athletes from being able to participate on sports teams that align with those athletes’ genders.”

Berkowitz said this bill simply makes it more challenging for transgender youth to be themselves, and while Bogard said the bill does not directly affect his son’s ability to keep playing sports, he worries any future legislation could.

“When you love a trans person in the state of Missouri, you have to defend them from their state government,” said Bogard. “It’s awful, its abuse, and it’s terrifying, and it’s something that keeps my wife and I awake at night.”