November 03, 2010
Kye Allums is showing more guts, more bravery, than any player on any college basketball court this season.
The George Washington junior — who used to be known as Kay-Kay — is referred to on the school’s website as a "male member of George Washington's women’s basketball team."
Allums wants to be identified as a male, though he will not begin any medical or drug protocols until he graduates in order to preserve his eligibility on George Washington's women's basketball team. OutSports.com reported Allums will be the first publicly transgender person to play Division I college basketball.
Allums let his story be known to the masses when he spoke with the gay-and-lesbian-oriented website. The piece went up Tuesday and received a lot of (very positive) reaction. This is already one of the best, most intriguing stories in college basketball we'll see all year. As fascinating as it is inspiring.
"I've always felt most comfortable dressing like a boy, but my mom would take all of my clothes from me and she'd force me to wear girl clothes," Allums said. "I'd bring sweats and basketball shorts and put them in my backpack. I'd just change every day when I got to school, and I had to change back before I went home. It was annoying, but it was the only way I could go to school."
At a time when many college athletes feel uncomfortable publicly revealing that they are gay or lesbian for fear or backlash or repercussions, Allums should be lauded, cheered, propped up and respected for being brave enough to announce his differences without shame. Credit also should go to George Washington's administration, coaching staff and players for standing behind Allums in the wake of his decision.
This is no doubt an awkward situation, but it seems to be getting handled terrifically by everyone surrounding it.
"GW has been supportive during this transition," Allums said in a statement released Tuesday by the university. "I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me. My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all."
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Given GW's low-profile, Allums, hopefully, will avoid any backlash and bigotry from opposing teams' fans. Not that any demeaning signs or shouts would be tolerated in any arena, but the fact he plays on a team like this probably makes it a tad less stressful on the coaches and players as a whole. Imagine a Tennessee player doing this? The circumstances would likely be even tougher, given Pat Summitt and the Volunteers' place in women's college basketball.
But just because Allums attends a relatively small D-I school doesn't mean this shouldn't be taken and spread widely around. His story is a groundbreaking one, and hopefully can be the next big step in sexual acceptance across the board in sports.
Jeff Eisenberg contributed to this post.