Tag Archives: basketball

First Open Transgender in Division I College Basketball

Yes, you heard right.

Having done a post a few months ago on gender and sex discrimination in women’s basketball and viewed the degrading treatment of record-breaking runner Caster Semenya just last year, this story appears to be a remarkable precedent for gender and sexual equality in sports.


Here are some portions from Matt Norlander’s article, “Transgender George Washington player a fascinating, inspiring story,” via Rivals.com to give you the basics. 

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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.

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So you might be wondering how this is all possible – how can he play for a women’s basketball team as a man?  The NCAA states that as long as Allums doesn’t take testosterone, he qualifies to play on a women’s team.

This very thorough and fascinating article from OutSports.com describes how this situation isn’t just black and white, female or male:

The issue remains a complicated one for many to grasp. One coach who asked to remain anonymous said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports.

Still, Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

“There’s not just a one-sentence answer,” said former NCAA basketball head coach Helen Carroll, who co-authored NCLR’s trans-athlete report. “It’s much more complicated than him being a man so he should play men’s sports. Kye as an athlete should have an opportunity to play sports. Period. What that looks like gets complicated because Kye is a transgender athlete.”

To hear more from Allums on his difficult experiences hiding his gender and how his current decision is affecting his teammates and coach, check out OutSports.com.

Now to leave you with some very positive insight from Allums himself on how society can be more open-minded aabout transgenders:

“I used to feel like trans anything was really weird and those people were crazy, and I wondered, ‘How can you feel like that?’” Allums said. “But I looked it up on the Internet and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m one of those weird people.’ And I realized they’re not weird. It’s all in your mindset and how you think.”

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Gender and Sexuality Discrimination in Sports

Today I read an article from Salon.com, written by Anna Clark, and entitled, “Lesbian athletes just can’t win.”  It’s hard enough being a woman in sports – it’s even harder for non-heterosexual women.  Clark makes some fascinating points:

1) If you go by the official record, Sherri Murrell of Portland State University is the only lesbian coach in Division One women’s basketball out of more than 350 teams.

2) Coaches competing for the best talent will dismiss another program as being a haven for dykes, playing on the homophobia of prospective athletes and their families, and so make their own program supposedly more appealing.

3) The 2009 documentary “Training Rules” tells the story of Penn State University’s Rene Portland who is the stuff of legends, with 27 seasons and a 606-236 overall record.

4) Portland implemented a “No Lesbians” policy, which she curiously defended as a strategy to take the stigma of lesbianism out of women’s sports. Jen Harris was kicked off Portland’s team in 2005, despite being the team’s leading scorer. She filed a lawsuit, alleging that she was cut for her perceived sexual orientation; the suit opened up decades of stories about Portland’s pattern of intimidation and was later settled out of court.

5) Harris’ exit from the team, incidentally, came the same year that Sheryl Swoopes became the first WNBA player to come out of the closet — eight years after the league’s founding. She remains an exception; few gay athletes followed in her footsteps.

6) The WBCA twice awarded Portland its Coach of the Year award and Portland served as the WBCA’s president in 1989-1990 when her well-known “no lesbians” policy was in full effect.

7) Harassment and bullying follow any woman who doesn’t conform to gender norms, and for an extraordinary number of people, the very fact of women playing sports is considered deviant from gender norms. And god forbid you catch a female athlete in bad behavior.

8 ) Some women’s sports teams over-compensate for the public’s discomfort with women who don’t conform to gender norms by issuing promotional campaigns that glam up the athletes, like Florida State University’s straight-girls-going-to-prom” photo shoot this season, as Broadsheet previously reported.

"Our-players-are-sexy-and-classically-desirable!"

9) As Kate Harding pointed out in Broadsheet, female athletes can’t win for winning: even as the University of Connecticut.  UConn’s women’s basketball team pounded its way to its 78th consecutive win and the NCAA championship this season, it was criticized as actually being bad for women’s sports. The contention was that UConn’s dynasty somehow proved that women’s sports aren’t competitive.  Nobody argues that UCLA’s 88-game winning streak between 1971 and 1974 was evidence of men’s basketball being weak. Indeed, it is celebrated as one of the greatest achievements in all sports….

Read the full article here.

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