George Washington's Kye Allums: The First Openly Transgender Division I Athlete

Carl D. CarlucciCorrespondent INovember 4, 2010

Who Is Kye Allums?

Kye Allums needs your support. As a member of George Washington's Women's Basketball team, Kyle has asked to be identified as a male. Such a request would make him the NCAA's first openly transgender athlete in a Division I sport.

Allums needs your support because, undoubtedly, there will be those who harass him for making his controversial decision. This does not refer to those who simply disagree with Kye's lifestyle; rather, it is a warning that those who are most intolerant may look at him with hatred for being who he feels most comfortable being. Because of this factor, Allums needs the support of all who accept his choice, especially those who disagree with it but wish him well nonetheless.

In a world where gay athletes are still frightened to come out while active, Allums stands as a beacon of hope for sexual liberation and acceptance.

A quick glance at his player profile on George Washington's website shows that the 5'11" guard is a Junior who has played on the team for the past two seasons.

Anatomically, Allums is still female and will withhold from medical and drug protocols until after his playing career in order to maintain his eligibility. 

The only difference now is his name and the pronouns he'd like people to identify him with.

Previously, Kye Allums' player profile sported the name Kay-Kay Allums. But for Kye, the name made him feel uncomfortable and as if he were somebody that he wasn't. The truth is that he is a man playing a woman's sport and he doesn't want to hide that anymore.

Luckily for Allums, those closest to him are supportive of his wish to be identified as a male. On a page for athletic news on George Washington's website, statements from Woman's Basketball Head Coach Mike Bozeman and Senior Vice Provost and Senior Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Robert Chernak express support for Kye.

Both Chernak and Bozeman stop short of saying they agree with Kye's decision, only saying "they support Kye's right to make this decision."

That's OK; as mentioned above, one need not agree with Kye's decision, they only need to accept it and not maliciously attack him for it.

An Important and Difficult Question

Naturally, some questions are raised by this peculiar situation.

Prime among them is why Kye Allums is allowed to play for George Washington's female team if he is going to be considered a male?

Chernak addresses Kye's status with the NCAA in his statement, remarking that "Kye has informed the university that he will not begin any medical or drug protocols while a student-athlete. The University consulted the NCAA regarding his competitive status. Kye will continue to be a member of the women's basketball team."

It might seem like a small matter for some to say Kye should not play for the woman's team if he wants to be a male, but it is a large matter for Kye, who needs his scholarship to continue his education. That scholarship is to play for the woman's basketball team, not the men's team.

This case blurs lines for sure; but no matter what Kye chooses to identify himself as, he does have a right to be a student-athlete.

These issues remain a hot-button issue for some. On, the site that first reported Allums decision. An article presents an opinion from a coach who "said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports."

It's a tricky situation for sure. That coach has a right to his opinion, and the opinions of those who feel Kye has surrendered his right to play for the woman's team by choosing to be identified as a man cannot be summarily dismissed.

However, no matter what position you take regarding Allums' eligibility, the NCAA has ruled in his favor. This is a major victory for those who identify themselves as transgender and for sexual equality in the world of sports, an often precarious subject given the macho nature of the sports world.

When Ironic Taunts Become Bigoted Vitriol

Case in point is the often derogatory way in which female basketball players are often regarded. Because they play a sport dominated by men and are not ideally feminine—whatever society deems that to be, if anything at all—it is commonplace for them to be regarded as lesbians.

In fact, even before this announcement, Kay-Kay Allums was subject to taunts from opposing fans because of her masculine physique.

Now fully embracing his masculinity, perhaps only Kye can appreciate the irony of just how comfortable those taunts made Kay-Kay feel.

But rocky roads lie ahead. Taunts that once secretly made Kye feel comfortable with his sexuality may now morph into something more vicious than anything he's experienced before. Whereas people may have been mocking Kay-Kay's appearance before, they will now be insulting Kye's decision with a vitriol that goes beyond mocking and highlights the lack of acceptance for differences in both the world of sports and our society.

Kye has the support of his teammates and school. On the same page where Chernak and Bozeman's statements are located, Kye has his own statement expressing how much it means to have the support of George Washington and stating, " My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all."

However, Kye needs more support than that. He needs the support of everybody who stands in the face of the bigotry he may face, regardless of what you feel about his decision or his eligibility for the woman's team.

We can accept no less because the sports world lags behind in sexual equality. After all, to everybody other than Kye it's just a name and a bunch of pronouns.