Trans people make great strides over this year

Posted on 02 Dec 2010 at 5:01pm

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.

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