The women’s basketball team at George Washington University, located in our nation’s capital, has a new challenge ahead of it.
For the first time in the history of Division I NCAA athletics, there will be an openly transgendered athlete.
Junior Kye Allums, who is biologically a female, but will eventually undergo hormone therapy to become a male, enters her third season as a guard for the Colonials with the request to be referred to by male pronouns now.
Allums previously went by the first name Kay-Kay.
“I decided to transition, that is, change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am,” Allums said. “I didn’t choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do, and I’m trying to help myself and others be who they are.”
Allums’ story is a victory in not only the realm of athletics but also in the United States.
Politicians in Washington, D.C., could take a few pointers from Allums and GW’s athletic department, since it’s so close to their offices.
This country was built to accommodate the needs and freedoms of various groups of people.
I will be the first to say that times don’t always change as quickly as they should.
Still, it is beyond promising to see NCAA athletics, and hopefully the Colonials’ fan base, embrace a concept as forward-thinking as transgendered athletes being open about their personal lives.
“I was sick of feeling like I had to hide everything,” Allums said after the announcement went public.
“It was getting to the point where it was affecting basketball and I couldn’t focus. I needed to say, ‘This is me,’ and I said it.”
His teammates and coaches reacted positively, not making Allums an outcast.
Instead, they’ve continued to embrace him as a member of the team.
“I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me,” Allums said. “My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team.
“They have been my family, and I love them all.”
The ability of Allums’ team to accept, and not just tolerate, this significant change is a credit to the athletic program.
Allums is not a post-gender change athlete, but perhaps he has made that situation less of a distant dream and more of a possibility should it come to be.
“Nobody chooses to feel a certain way,” Allums said. “Nobody should have the right to tell anybody that that’s not right.”
That mindset inspired Allums to speak openly about his personal life and will open doors down the road for other members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Allums will not be ineligible in the NCAA’s eyes because he is delaying any hormonal treatments and other medical procedures until after college and the use of his eligibility.
Hormonal therapy and the use of other drugs, even when used under the supervision of approved physicians, can often cause trouble for collegiate athletes under the NCAA’s current substance abuse policy.
GW will need his threepoint shooting and leadership this season, as the Colonials have one senior and mostly sophomores on the team.
Regardless, I will be keeping an eye on their program to see how Allums and his teammates fare, and to see if they dish out any additional life lessons of acceptance and friendship.