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Family speaks out about possible veto override of bill banning Indiana transgender athletes

Beth and Kirin Clawson
Posted at 9:23 AM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 19:45:25-04

BLOOMINGTON — Since January, Beth and Nathaniel Clawson have been speaking up about the impact House Enrolled Act 1041 would have on their child Kirin who is transgender.

It bans transgender girls, like their daughter, from participating on K-12 sports teams.

On Tuesday, Republican leadership in the House and Senate have said they will more than likely override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of HEA 1041. However, it is expected to be challenged in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has said they will file a lawsuit if it becomes law. This is what has happened in every other state that has passed similar legislation.

At this point, the Clawsons want to share their story to educate people and let them how anti-trans laws impact families like theirs. At nine-years-old, Kirin doesn't remember a time that her family wasn't affirming her gender identity. Her parents say they noticed something was different about their child when she was a toddler.

"A lot of that was happening before she had a ton of words. She would put on tutus and put on dresses from our dress-up bin. She wouldn't leave the house without one of those on," Nathaniel said. "If we tried to take them off of her, she threw tantrums. Looking back, it was really scary seeing how the more we forced her into wearing what people consider boy clothes, the more she withdrew and started to regress.

Through tears, Beth recounted a memory of when she realized forcing Kirin to wear boy clothes was negatively impacting her daughter.

She had taken Kirin to a salon appointment with her and thought if she dressed her child in boy preppy boy clothes, she could avoid a tantrum. Beth's hairdresser noticed how withdrawn Kirin was and told Beth "that's not Kirin" referencing how Beth had dressed her.

You can hear the full story in Beth's words by playing the video below.

Kirin's family says she is loved and supported in her community and school. However, Beth and Nathaniel worry what life is going to be like for their daughter outside the safe spaces she has in Bloomington.

"I think that it wasn't difficult until January. Possible realities of Kirin's future have definitely invaded our minds, our emotions, our thinking about where we're going to visit. Really, every part of our life," Beth said.

The Clawsons said all the decisions they've made for their daughter have come at the advice of doctors. Because these doctors have extensive training with transgender patients, they trust them to help make the best decisions for their daughter.

Dr. Sidhbh Gallagher, known for her pioneering work in transgender health, says all medical professionals hope politicians are consulting experts whenever they put in policies and laws dealing with any medical condition especially complex ones like gender dysphoria.

"A lot folks who identify as transgender suffer from gender dysphoria," Gallagher said. "Gender dysphoria, for a long time now in medicine, we've understood this can be a serious medical problem. Often times, many of these patients may need hormones, medical interventions, sometimes surgeries, or in some cases, not at all."

Gallagher said as transgender people, and laws impacting their lives enter the spotlight, she's noticed many misconceptions especially when it comes to children.

"As a surgeon, we do not perform gender affirmation surgery on children. However, we have to understand that sometimes parents will affirm that child by allowing them to socially transition which is very different and completely reversible," Gallagher said.

All reputable medical organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, recognize the benefits of affirming those who suffer from gender dysphoria in whatever ways help.

At this point, socially transitioning and affirming their daughter is what the Clawsons are doing. They said if there ever comes a point where Kirin tells them she no longer wants to continue with any type of medical transition, they will honor her wishes.

For them, it's all about affirming their child because they know what could happen if they did not support her.

"If we didn't listen to her and tried to force her into a box or into what we thought she should be, we know that would not go well," Nathaniel said.

The Clawsons and many other families with trans kids, people who are transgender, and their allies worry HEA 1041 won't be the last bill targeting the trans community that makes its way through the Statehouse.