8-year-old Mili Hernandez played so well on her Nebraska soccer team that she was bumped up to play with the 11-year-old girls in an upcoming league. Unfortunately for Mili and her team, their time in the Springfield Girls Soccer Invitational was cut short because organizers believed Mili was a boy.
It all began with a roster typo. Organizers noticed that it said "boy" next to Mili's name in the all-girl competition and promptly disqualified her and her team.
Outraged, Mili's coach and parents fought to keep her in the competition and presented insurance cards and physical forms to prove her gender, but they claim that the invitational's organizers "wouldn't look at it" and that the organization's president had made his decision. The family believes it's because Mili looked like a boy.
"When my hair starts to grow, I put it short because I always had short hair," Mili explained to ABC7. "Just because I look like a boy doesn't mean I am a boy, but they don't have a reason to kick the whole club out." Mili's father, Gerardo Hernandez said "She was in shock. She even was crying after they told us. She was crying. They made her cry."
The team's head coach admits there was a typo on the roster and Mili was marked as a boy, but was the soccer league just in kicking the team out of the competition, especially after Mili's parents could prove that she was a girl?
It certainly feels like the organizers read that Mili was a boy, saw her appearance, and made up their minds not to let her or her team compete. Was the organization simply following guidelines or did they really believe Mili was a boy? What does Mili's hair say about society's narrow idea of gender? And an even more worrying question: how would a trans player be treated by the soccer league?
Despite everything, Mili says that she will keep playing the sport she loves. "Just because I can't play here, there's other tournaments that I can play."