Metro Weekly

Man Stops Track Meet, Alleging 9-Year-Old Girl is Transgender

Athlete's mother claims heckler accosted two fourth-grade females, demanding they not be allowed to compete because they had short hair.

Photo Illustration by Todd Franson – Original Illustration by Sulit Photos, via Dreamstime.

A 9-year-old girl was verbally attacked and accused of being transgender by an obnoxious heckler at a school track and field event in Canada. 

During the shot put event at a track and field meet for elementary students at Kelowna’s Apple Bowl stadium, in British Columbia, a man began to yell transphobic comments to two competitors.

Heidi Starr’s daughter was one of the girls targeted by the transphobic comments, leaving the 9-year-old “visibly shaking and sobbing.”

“She was standing in line and all of a sudden, this man comes out of the crowd. He stops the entire event and says ‘This is a girl’s event, why are boys allowed to throw,’” Starr told the New York Post.

Starr said that the man, Josef Tesar, the grandfather of another child, pointed at her daughter, who is a cisgender girl with a pixie-style haircut, and yelled, “But there are boys playing. Why are boys allowed to throw?”

Starr shouted back at the man, “Are you pointing to my daughter? Because my daughter is a girl.”  

Tesar then allegedly replied “She’s a girl,” using air quotes, Starr said. 

Starrs claims that her daughter wasn’t the only person to be heckled by Tesar. She recalls that the man was also yelling and pointing at another girl who also had a short haircut.

“If she’s not a boy, she is obviously trans,” Tesar said, according to Starr.

After that comment, Starr said Tesar’s wife inserted herself into the altercation, accusing Starr and her wife, Kari, of being “genital mutilators, groomers, and pedophiles,” and demanding that Starr provide documentation to prove her daughter was born female.


Tesar has since denied the allegations of accosting the child, telling Castanet News that he believes that Starr and her partner were trying to “satisfy an agenda,” and that he had the right to question the child’s gender.

“I am not apologizing for that question that I asked. I think personally I have a right to ask questions, and I always will for the rest of my life,” he said.

Tesar told the outlet that he approached a meet official to question whether Starr’s daughter should be competing, and denied directing remarks at a second athlete. He also claims his wife did not make the anti-LGBTQ remarks she’s accused of making, and alleged that Heidi Starr is the one who escalated the situation.

The Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police told Castanet News in a statement that they are investigating the incident due to the alleged discriminatory behavior.

Central Okanagan School District superintendent Kevin Kaardal told the Post that steps are being taken to ban Tesar from all school-related events.

British Columbia Prime Minister David Eby condemned the incident on Twitter, calling it “awful” and “not acceptable or welcome in British Columbia.”

Starr said that her daughter has been educated on the LGBTQ community, but not on the hate that often follows the community. 

“She has gay parents, she has a trans cousin, she has known the spectrum of LGBTQ her entire life but she is not transgender, and she has never before seen the hate,” she said.

Star continued, explaining that she felt the man was “emboldened because of the overwhelming influx of anti-trans and anti-queer propaganda and rhetoric that’s being thrown at us in social media.”

The elementary athlete told her mom that if she wasn’t distracted she could have potentially won the shot put event, saying: “I want [the world] to know that I probably would have placed if that man hadn’t yelled at me.”

Starr, and her daughter, are hoping that the widespread media coverage of the incident will circulate messages of acceptance and help people understand the kind of harassment that transgender people are often forced to deal with in their daily lives. 

“Her birthday is coming up at the end of the week, and she said, ‘You know, I think maybe the reason everything happened is that the story had to go viral. So maybe my birthday gift is that I get to make a change.”

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