A George Washington University athlete named Kye Allums came out publicly as transgender on Monday, making him the first Division I college basketball player to ever do so while competing publicly. His coach has stated that he will remain on the women’s team.
The story was first publicized by OutSports, which discussed Allum’s childhood experience and his realization that he was different than his peers. “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,” he explained. “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.” Growing up, Allums tried to be feminine, but never felt like himself. In high school, he identified as a lesbian, but gradually realized that label did not fit him either.
Allums is now a junior at GWU, majoring in Interior Design. He began identifying as male during his sophomore year, according to the Huffington Post, and came out first to his teammates. “He explained that sex is how you’re born and gender is how you identify yourself. Then I started to understand,” said teammate Brooke Wilson. He eventually came out to his coach, Mike Bozeman, who responded positively, to Allums’ relief. “I’ve had your back through everything. Our relationship has grown from nothing to this, and now you think I’d just turn my back on you because you told me this? No. I love you and I’ll always be here for you,” Allums remembers Bozeman saying. Allums expressed his decision to use male pronouns, and his name was officially changed from Kay-Kay to Kye on the school website earlier this year.
Coming out is a courageous step for any LGBT athlete, as homopopbia in sports is still a major issue. Allums feels lucky to have had such strong support from his team. “Everybody’s pretty much accepting of everyone on the team. Everyone is different,” said Wilson. “We’re like family.” Allums will play in his first game since his coming out on November 13, at the Best Buy Classic in Minneapolis—a half hour south from where he grew up in Hugo, Minnesota. He tells the New York Times, “I was uncomfortable not being able to be myself. Just having to hear the words ‘she’ and ‘her,’ it was really starting to bug me. … I’m able to focus on basketball now.” The Bleacher Report emphasizes Allums’ strong past record.
The NCAA is reviewing its policies towards transgender athletes, but currently follows the gender classification on official identification documents. The National Center for Lesbian Rights recently released a report on comprehensive policies for transgender student athletes as well. Allums will remain on the women’s team, as he has not undergone hormone therapy, and his experience will likely open up further discussion of transgender issues.
GLAAD applauds Allums' decision to come out, and will continue to monitor media coverage of this story.