An NBA Star Was Once Ashamed Of His Transgender Sister. Now He Stands Up For LGBTQ Rights.

"It was something I didn't know too much about."

NBA star Reggie Bullock is opening up about the shame he once felt about his transgender sister, and how her tragic death inspired him to use his platform to advocate for the LGBTQ community.

In a video shared by the Detroit Pistons on Twitter, Bullock speaks about his sister Mia Henderson, admitting that she never saw him play college basketball. "I always thought about what my teammates would think," he shared, calling the choice "one of the stupidest things" and adding, "I just didn't know so much about it, and I wasn't as comfortable with it."

However, Bullock's understanding changed when Henderson was murdered in 2014. "It was something I didn't know too much about — about the deaths and the things that happen to this community," the 27-year-old said.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, "fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color," and a report last year found that 84 percent of transgender victims of fatal violence in 2017 were people of color. Bullock's choice to learn more about these issues and speak out is an important step for change.

He met with representatives from GLAAD and Athlete Ally, an organization which seeks to end homophobia and transphobia in sports, and for which Bullock is now an ambassador. 

"It's so important if you talk about it, because you have a media platform," Nick Adams, director of Transgender Media and Representation for GLAAD, told the athlete. "You can help eliminate some of that stigma just by talking about Mia and how much you loved her, and that she was happy the way she was."

Bullock has even demonstrated his commitment to the cause by getting "LGBTQ," along with his sister's name, tattooed on his leg. According to The Grio, Bullock also wore "equality" sneakers during a recent game and hosted a Pistons Pride Night with the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 

"The impact she had on my life and the happiness that she had with just being herself always stuck with me, even when she left," Bullock said of his sister's legacy.

Last week, Bullock joined Athlete Ally to demand that all schools in the Power Five conferences publicly adopt the NCAA's guidelines for transgender participation in college sports.

In a statement for the campaign, Bullock said that since his sister's death, he has "pledged to do everything in my power to honor her legacy and fight for transgender equality," adding, "Today, I ask Power 5 schools to take an easy step to support the trans community and ensure they're protected and welcomed in collegiate athletics."

"Anything that y'all can put my face on or use me for — parades or stuff like that — I'm willing to do it," Bullock says in the Pistons' video, later adding, "I think if my sister wasn't a part of that community, and nothing like this totally ever happened, I still feel like I would probably be a leader, to be able to stand up for that community."

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