Kye Allums, formerly known as Kay-Kay, will become the first publicly-known transgender player to play Division I NCAA basketball for the George Washington University women's team. Allums' journey to finding himself has taken his entire life to traverse. But will Allums' brave admission lead to concrete rights for transgender college athletes?
Via TBD's Amanda Hess, Allums joined the team as a freshman in 2008, came out to his teammates during his sophomore year and told Colonials head coach Mike Bozeman last summer before planning to publicly coming out this season. Born a woman, Allums never felt comfortable in his female body and did his best to live life by how he felt on the inside. Teammate Brooke Wilson said it best when describing how she reacted to Allums' confession:
"At first I didn't understand, and then he explained that sex is how you're born and gender is how you identify yourself. Then I started to understand."
Allums may be the first publicly-outed transgender to play NCAA basketball, but he is not the first transgender athlete to play collegiate sports. NCAA is currently studying the issue, one that has become more prevalent. NCAA has received 30 inquiries within the last two years regarding how colleges should handle transgender athletes, a number that reports believe will steadily increase. Currently, NCAA's policy leaves decisions up to the individual universities, but recommends that the school follows the classification on the athlete's identification documents.
A recent report released by several LGBT advocacy groups, entitled "On The Team," argues that a lack of a national standard is unfair to transgender athletes. The report also divides recommendations into two categories: those who are undergoing hormone treatments and those who are not. Allums is currently not taking masculine hormones, but plans to undergo sex-reassignment surgery next summer. "On The Team," however, believes that female-to-male transgenders should be able to compete while taking testosterone as long as they receive an exemption from NCAA.
Bozeman and the university have spoken out in support of Allums and should be commended for their open-mindedness. Allums believes that it's "all in your mindset and how you think." The NCAA has been a trailblazer for equal rights, most notably for women. Hopefully, the NCAA will take notice of Allums' courageous profession and give an oft-forgotten group a chance to express their individuality on a national stage.