George Washington University Embraces Transgender Athlete
December 3, 2010
George Washington University athlete Kye Allums is beginning his third season on the women’s basketball team and making history as the first publicly transgender person to play NCAA Division I college basketball.
Kye was born female, but his teammates, coach, school and even the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have all been supportive of his decision to come out as male. The NCAA will allow Kye to continue to play on the women’s basketball team as long as he does not start any hormone treatment. (Testosterone, a hormone prescribed to some transgendered men, is also considered a performance-enhancing drug illegal under NCAA anti-doping regulations.)
As for locker rooms and other details, George Washington University has pledged to work with Kye to find a solution that makes everyone happy. Not only has the university been supportive, but in Washington, D.C., people have the legal right to use restrooms and dressing rooms that reflect their gender identity or expression. It’s so refreshing to see this kind of support for transgender men and women. The considerate policies of George Washington University, the NCAA and the capital are starting to eliminate some of the obstacles Kye and many like him face.
Of course, the NCAA and organizations like it still have a long way to go. Right now it’s not clear how the NCAA would respond to other situations related to transgender people. What would the NCAA have done if a male basketball player came out as female and wanted to be on the women’s basketball team? Transgender athletes are beginning to raise complicated questions, and it’s time national sports associations set standards for answering them—after all, Kye surely isn’t alone.
But aside from letting Kye continue to play basketball-and keep his scholarship-the acceptance of George Washington University and the NCAA does something simple: it allows Kye to both be himself and be part of a team that calls itself a family. And that’s a great start.