On Sunday, 8-year-old Milagros “Mili” Hernandez was excited to play in the championship game in her Nebraska all-girls soccer league. But hours before the final match, she found out she and the rest of her team were disqualified.
Why? Because she didn’t look girly enough.
Really. They were disqualified because organizers were convinced Mili was a boy. This isn’t a transgender issue. She just likes short hair.
[Father] Gerardo Hernandez told WOWT 6 News that his daughter “was in shock.” He continued: “She was crying after they told us… They made her cry.”
Mili added: “Just because I look like a boy doesn’t mean I am a boy. They don’t have a reason to kick the whole club out.”
Mili’s family claims they showed her insurance card to tournament organizers in an effort to prove she’s a girl. It wasn’t enough.
Mili’s brother, Cruz Hernandez, told WOWT 6 News: “They didn’t want to listen. They said the president made his decision and there wasn’t any changing that.”
The only statement we’ve heard from organizers up to this point is that the family can “file an appeal” to the Nebraska State Soccer Association. But the game is over. The moment is gone. What good will it do if and when the state reverses the ruling?
And the more pressing question is the one we can’t answer just yet. What motivated someone to disqualify Mili and her team based only on appearance? Why didn’t they ask her, her family, or her team the one question that would’ve resolved everything? And why wasn’t her father showing Mili’s identification enough to fix the problem?
Did religion have something to do with this? Because evangelicals have a habit of stereotyping women based on their appearances. We don’t know the answer, but I know what my hunch is.
The Washington Post notes that there was a typo on one of Mili’s registration forms, listing her as a boy.
But another form listed her as a girl — and she was playing on an all-girls team and is, in fact, a girl — so [Mo Farivari, the president of Azzurri Soccer club, which includes Mili’s team] thought the problem would be easily straightened out.
It wasn’t. You’d think they would double check that before taking such drastic action. I could forgive organizers for seeing the form, seeing Mili, and assuming she was a boy. But what the hell were they thinking to not even raise the concern or look at evidence to the contrary?
This is a kids’ soccer league, not the World Cup. Why not do everything possible to avoid disqualifying everybody?