GW transgender player deals with wave of publicity
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 7:08 PM
WASHINGTON -- Kye Allums can't have the surgery, can't start taking testosterone - not as long as he wants to keep playing basketball for the George Washington women's basketball team.
But he can change his name. He can ask people to stop calling him a woman. He can show off his mohawk, face a dozen cameras at the Smith Center after a practice and declare: "Yes, I am a male on a female team."
So, for now, part of the dream is deferred for another. Allums is choosing basketball, a 21-year-old transgender player starting his junior season on the Colonials' roster.
"It is hard," Allums said, "because I would love for everything to happen right now. But, to those who wait, good things come. So I'm waiting and just focusing on basketball and school, and it's going to come. As long as I think like that, it doesn't seem like a hard thing."
Allums' story first surfaced Monday on outsports.com, which reported that Allums "will be the first publicly transgender person" to play NCAA Division I college basketball. By Wednesday, the interest had reached the point that the university had to hold a media day just for the player formerly known as Kay-Kay Allums, giving him a chance to address the many questions that come with such a unique status.
Allums says his plan was not to come out now and just finish his GW basketball career first.
But plans change.
"It got too tough. It got too tough to not be me," Allums said. "People would call me a girl and say, 'she' and refer to me as someone I knew I wasn't."
In high school in suburban Minneapolis, Allums decided he was perhaps a lesbian, but the transgender thoughts were triggered when his mother, during a testy back-and-forth, texted him the message: "Who do you think you are, young lady?"
Maybe, Allums felt, he wasn't a young lady after all.
"Before that, I was one of those people who would look down upon 'trans' or whatever," Allums said. "And I was like, 'How could you feel like that?' But when my mom sent me that text message, and I was like, 'Wow, I'm one of those weird people I was talking about.' And I actually looked it up, looked more into it, and that was just me."
Allums talked about the "two boxes" of male and female, and how he feels he belongs in the box marked "male." He started telling teammates and coach Mike Bozeman, but telling mom was the hard one.