Trans player’s hoops career cut short by injuries

Kye Allums

Kye Allums, the George Washington University junior who made headlines last fall by coming out as a transgender person while remaining on the school’s women’s basketball team, announced this week that he would not be returning to the team for his senior year because of injuries, according to several published reports, including this one at FoxNews.com.

Allums said in a prepared statement that he came to the decision on his own that it is “no longer in my best interests” to play basketball, and he thanked the school’s athletic department for respecting his wishes.

When he came out as transgender last November, Allums explained that he was postponing hormone treatments and gender reassignment surgery so that he could remain eligible to play on the women’s basketball team. However, Allums said this week that after suffering two concussions in the 2010-11 season, he has decided not to continue to play basketball.

Although Alllums started 20 games in his sophomore year at George Washington, he played in only eight games this season because of the concussions. He told the Associated Press in March that he has suffered a total of eight concussions overall and that he has been experiencing memory loss, a common symptom of multiple concussions. He said doctors told him that if he were a football player rather than a basketball player, his career would have ended even sooner.

A post by Eammon Brenna on ESPN’s College Basketball Nation Blog praised Allum’s courage in coming out as transgender, saying: “In essence, Allums’ change was about identity, about helping the external match the internal, and it raised awareness of transgender identity issues in an arena where even homosexuality remains a hotly debated subject. … It’s sad to see any player’s career cut short by injuries. But I’d argue it’s even sadder to see Allums — whose public bravery no doubt served as inspiration to even a (presumably) small number of athletes with transgender identities — unable to live out his final season with his teammates.”

—  admin

Trans people make great strides over this year

College basketball player comes out as trans; LGPA announces rules change, and 1 trans judge elected while another is appointed

Leslie Robinson General Gayety

Recently our community marked the 12th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a somber day devoted to memorializing those murdered over their gender identity and expression.

Also recently, however, we’ve seen transgender breakthroughs that are, in a word, fabulousgreatwonderful.

College basketball season has begun, and many a media outlet has covered the story of Kye Allums, a junior guard at George Washington University.  At 5-foot-11, Allums won’t be shattering glass, but his story is.

“Yes, I am a male on a female team,” Allums, 21, told USA Today. “And I want to be clear about this. I am a transgender male, which means feelings-wise, how it feels on the inside, I feel as if I should have been born male with male parts.

“But my biological sex is female, which makes me a transgender male.”

This was a college student taking great pains to educate a sportswriter, who’s accustomed to Xs and Os, on Xs and Ys. The sportswriter can expect a midterm.

When Allums’ college playing career is over, he intends to transition. He planned to keep quiet until then, but “it just got too tough not to be me.”

His teammates, coach and university all appear to be supportive.

The NCAA probably thought not long ago that it would have to deal with this issue the day the Rhode Island School of Design won the Rose Bowl. But the NCAA has a policy, explained a spokesman:  “A female who wants to be socially identified as a male but has not had hormone treatments or surgery may compete on a women’s team.”

So this college basketball season begins with an African-American, openly transgender person playing Division 1 hoops. This represents so many steps forward it’s practically traveling.

Turning to a different sport, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) will soon have a different understanding of “lady.”

GolfChannel.com reported the LPGA will propose in a Nov. 30 player meeting to axe its “female at birth” requirement.

It’s not that association honchos experienced an epiphany. It’s that they have drivers aimed at their heads.

Lana Lawless, 57, who had gender-reassignment surgery five years ago, filed suit in San Francisco over the LPGA declining her application for tour membership. Her suit claims the organization discriminated due to her transgender status, a violation of California’s anti-discrimination statutes.

The LPGA has landed in the rough indeed.

A change to the constitutional bylaws requires two-thirds of the LPGA membership to agree. The association has already told players the old gender rule was established “in a different time,” and defending it legally today would be harder than putting with your eyes closed.

Also, the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Golf Association and other golf entities now allow transgender participation. The fairways are getting fairer.

Victoria Kolakowski, who had reassignment surgery in 1991, has scored big in a different arena. In a race so tight it couldn’t be called until two weeks after the election, voters in California chose Kolakowski for Alameda County Superior Court.

An openly transgender woman wins a popular election. Thank you California for being, well, California.

Kolakowski, 49, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the election result “speaks well of our ability to look past differences and look to the things that matter: our ability and experience.”

Here’s hoping she has both, because she’ll be scrutinized like an American Idol finalist.

Two days after Kolakowski declared victory, transgender LGBT activist Phyllis Frye was appointed a municipal court judge in the Houston City Council chamber, the same room where 30 years ago Frye helped repeal Houston’s “cross-dressing ordinance.”

Frye, 63, said to the Houston Chronicle, “Things have changed, and it’s pretty wonderful.”

Two judges in two days. That’s the right kind of order in the court.

Leslie Robinson lives in Seattle. Read more of her columns at GeneralGayety.com. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens