9-Year-Old Girl's Gender Allegedly Questioned by Couple at Track Meet

An altercation at a children's track meet in British Columbia left a young girl traumatized, according to her mothers.

Published June 15, 2023

 (Jacky Enjoy Photography/Getty Images (Stock Photo))
Image courtesy of Jacky Enjoy Photography/Getty Images (Stock Photo)

On June 14, 2023, the users behind the left-leaning Twitter account Occupy Democrats tweeted, in part, "BREAKING: An unhinged conservative husband and wife interrupt an elementary school track-and-field meet, accuse a 9-year old girl with short hair of being a boy, and demand that the young girl produce her birth certificate in the middle of the race or be disqualified."

We received emails from readers who asked us to look into this matter.

This story mainly involved five people, including four adults and one child: a 9-year-old girl (whose name is being withheld from this report because she is a minor) and her two mothers, Heidi and Kari Starr, as well as two grandparents named Josef and Krista Tesar.

On June 8, all five of them attended the same track-and-field event for grades four through six at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna, British Columbia.

The Starrs were present to support their daughter's participation in the activities on the field, while the Tesars were in attendance to support their granddaughter.


According to the Starrs, the Tesars stopped a shot-put event to question whether the Starrs' daughter was born male and whether she now identifies as transgender — even going so far as to ask for a certificate (presumably a birth certificate).

The Starrs have since said that their daughter is not trans. She was born female and had a pixie haircut on the day of the event. Her short haircut was one element that the Tesars reportedly later said had caught their attention and started what ultimately became the altercation described in the Occupy Democrats tweet.

In light of the incident, Kevin Kaardal, the superintendent for Central Okanagan Public Schools, one of at least two school districts with students who were participating in the event, said in a statement published by Global News that the Tesars would not be allowed on district property or at any future district-sponsored events.

The Tesars responded in a statement on Castanet, a blog that covers local news in Kelowna. In the statement, the couple confirmed that the incident had occurred and that Josef Tesar had mentioned a certificate for the young girl. At the same time, they also denied some parts of the Starrs' account of what the Tesars had said.

In this story, we'll look at the two Facebook posts made by the Starrs and the statement from the Tesars. We'll also report on what the school district had to say, describe the contents of a video taken during the altercation, and lay out small details that the Occupy Democrats tweet got wrong.

We reached out to all parties involved but did not yet receive a response from Kaardal or the Tesars. This story will be updated should we receive any further responses.

Heidi and Kari Starr's Facebook Posts

On June 9, Heidi Starr publicly posted on the local Facebook group Kelowna Alert about the incident that had occurred at the Apple Bowl on the previous day. The post read, in part:

At the school district track and field finals at the Apple bowl yesterday, this fellow, right as my daughter was coming up to throw for the shot-put event, stopped the entire event declaring that my daughter was a boy. My daughter is a girl, was born female, and uses she/ her pronouns. She has a pixie cut. Josef proceeded to say that if my daughter was not a boy, then she was definitely trans and should be disqualified from competing. In the meantime, his wife was shouting that I was a genital mutilator, a groomer, and a pedophile.

Josef then demanded that I provide a certificate proving my daughter was born female. My daughter was so shaken up. She has never witnessed this kind of hate before. He was asked to leave the event and would not leave. The entire event was moved to a different pit and he walked over to the pit and stood there, chest out, and arms crossed.

Hours later, Kari Starr also published a public post about the altercation, alleging that Josef Tesar had yelled "at length" directly at their daughter, saying to her that she shouldn't be allowed to compete in the event unless a certificate was presented that showed she had been born female. All of this left their daughter traumatized, Kari said.

The article from Global News included a video interview with Kari, who said that the described incident caused their daughter to cry "inconsolably."

The reporting also mentioned that the Tesars' granddaughter attended a school in a district separate from the Starrs' daughter.

A story published by the Vancouver Sun featured a letter written by the Starrs' daughter. The letter recounted the events that transpired that day. It also included a message to others who might go through a similar experience. She wrote, in part, "I think that even though this happened, if this happens to you, you should know that the person [accuser] is wrong because you are strong and perfect the way you are."

The Tesars' Response

Following the incident, the Tesars responded with a statement that was presented on Castanet. The headline of the article read, "'I never yelled towards the girl': Kelowna man accused of accosting child at track meet denies allegations."

In the statement, Josef Tesar said he did not yell at the Starrs' daughter, but did approach a person who was officiating the event and eventually made mention of the Starrs' daughter's certificate. He also claimed that the Starrs asked if he needed to see their daughter naked to satisfy his questions:

"I never yelled towards the girl. I went to the official in private and asked one only question if this was a mixed competition" he said.

Tesar said he was told the event was "girls only." He said he replied to the official that he thought there was a boy in line with the other competitors.

"As I was walking away from the official, a woman saying 'I'm her mother' and [she was] yelling, and swearing at me and offering if I want to see [the girl] naked, or if I want to see her genitals," he continued.

"I said 'No, the certificate is OK.' That's all I said. I never pointed to another girl and said she's obviously trans. That is a big lie as well."

The Tesars also denied the Starrs' allegation that Josef's wife, Krista, had called Heidi "a genital mutilator, a groomer, and a pedophile." At the same time, Krista Tesar did tell Castanet, "I said something appropriate. Not those words. ... Maybe something like 'F off.'"

Starr has claimed Tesar demanded certification to prove that her daughter was born female. Starr also claims that Tesar's wife Krista yelled out at her calling her a "genital mutilator, a groomer, and a pedophile."

"I said something appropriate. Not those words. ... Maybe something like 'F off,'" Krista Tesar said Tuesday.

Josef tells Castanet he believes the two moms are trying to "satisfy an agenda."

"The two mothers of the cisgendered girl — this is their pronunciation, I personally don't know even what that means," he said.

"That word is not in my vocabulary. [They] fabricate the lies and hate towards us. I never yelled towards the girl. I went to the official in private and asked one question."

In the story from Castanet, Josef Tesar also said that he apologized to at least one school principal, but contended that he would not apologize for asking whether the event was co-ed. Further, he claimed that the Starrs' account of the incident amounted to "defamation of character."

We contacted Heidi Starr via Messenger to ask about his statement, in particular regarding the claim that she or Kari Starr had mentioned the offer to prove their daughter was a girl. She responded and added a clarification about the story that she said was going around in other articles:

He [was] referring to my response to his demanding a certificate proving my child is a girl. I said, "What you're really asking here is [for] a certificate demanding to know what genitals are in my daughter's shorts," to which he yelled, "Just show me the certificate!!"

He never asked to see my daughter's genitals. I noticed that that seems to be in ongoing message in the media and I never said that. All I have ever said was that he demanded a certificate and that I responded pointing out that what he was really asking was to know which genitals were in my daughter's shorts.

In our interview with Heidi Starr, she also said, "And 100%, the only person swearing was [Tesar's] wife, because it was a kids event and the rest of the humans there understood that."

Local Leaders Respond

Following the altercation, Kari Starr praised one of the school districts for its help in the matter, according to reporting from Global News. The article also said that Kaardal, the superintendent of one of the school districts, would be notifying the Tesars with a letter that they would be banned from being on district property or at any future district-sponsored events:

"I really think the school district, especially our principal, helped…  he was involved from minute one, dealing with it. He walked both Heidi and me out and he's called both of us since. They've been amazing and supportive," [Kari said.]

Kevin Kaardal, superintendent of Central Okanagan Public Schools, has been working toward ensuring the couple, whose grandchild is believed to be in another school, can't do this kind of thing again.

"The persons who accosted the student and family were not from one of our Central Okanagan public schools," he said.

"We took steps through the school act. We will be serving them with a (letter) which prevents them from being on any district property or any district events."

The district and the school are also planning to continue their support of the children affected and their parents.

The district and school weren't the only ones throwing support to the Starrs.

David Eby, the premier of British Columbia, responded to the news of the incident on Twitter, saying in part, "This kind of hate is not acceptable or welcome in British Columbia."

Video of the Altercation

As of this writing, we were only aware of one brief, low-quality video of the altercation that had been posted online on the stories of what appeared to be Tesar's TikTok account, @joseftesar117. (Much like on Instagram, stories on TikTok accounts are accessible by tapping on a user's profile picture and are different from normal video uploads.)

From what we could gather, the 30-second video was only accessible on mobile devices. It showed an unidentified person who was wearing a hat attempting to bring calm to the situation, saying to Josef Tesar, "Everything comes to a stop here because of what was said, so we just have to take a step back." The unidentified person also told Josef after he said something unintelligible, "Right, but that's not appropriate nowadays."

Much of the sound in the video was difficult to understand due to its low quality.

Clarifying Points

The tweet from Occupy Democrats made an apparent reference to Josef and Krista Tesar as being an "unhinged conservative husband and wife," though without mentioning them by name. While the concern over trans athletes participating in sports might appear to align with a conservative viewpoint in Canada and other countries, we have so far been unable to establish contact with the Tesars, nor have we been able to find further information regarding their political leanings, other than their statement that Castanet published.

Further, despite what the lengthy Occupy Democrats tweet said, the police were not called during the event, according to our interview with Heidi Starr. "I called the police after the event was over and opened a case file," she told us, also adding that the viral tweet incorrectly said the incident happened "in the middle of a race." As previously mentioned, the altercation happened during a shot-put event.


"Canada Votes 2021: Party Positions on Gender." Genspect, 9 Sept. 2021,

HR Raegen. "Kelowna Alert." Facebook, 9 June 2023,

Michaels, Kathy. "Outrage over Anti-Trans Tirade Allegedly Hurled at 9-Year-Old during Kelowna Track Meet |" Global News, 13 June 2023,

Reeve, Madison. "'I Never Yelled towards the Girl': Kelowna Man Accused of Accosting Child at Track Meet Denies Allegations - Kelowna News." Castanet, 13 June 2023,

Starr, Kari. Facebook, 9 June 2023,

"'Strong and Perfect the Way You Are': Kelowna Girl Harassed at Track Meet Speaks Out." Vancouver Sun, 14 June 2023,

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.