The NCAA’s first openly trans player is set to take the court soon. Kye Allums, a 20-year-old basketball player at George Washington University. On November 13, he’ll take the floor at the Best Buy Classic in Minneapolis for a game against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and become the first publicly transgender person to play NCAA Division 1 college basketball.
Allums talked to Outsports about his process of coming out to himself, his family, and his teammates.
“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,” Allums told Outsports. “I’d bring sweats and basketball shorts and put them in my backpack. 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.”
In high school, Allums identified as a lesbian but eventually realized that title didn’t fit him either. His “aha!” moment came, perhaps ironically, in a text message from his mother during his first year at George Washington. During a fight, his mom wrote, “Who do you think you are, young lady?” And Allums soon realized that he wasn’t a young lady at all.
“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.”
During his sophomore year, Allums asked his teammates to refer to him using male pronouns, and at the beginning of this year he changed his name from “Kay Kay” to “Kye” on the team’s official roster.
It hasn’t been an easy transition, but so far Allums has gotten the support of his teammates and coaches. Yet as he approaches his first season of women’s basketball as a man, there are some potential dilemmas. For instance: locker rooms. Women’s teams traditionally use the women’s locker room, but Washington D.C. law ensures the right to use gender-specific restrooms and fitting rooms that align with a person’s gender expression.
Outsports also recounts some of the hostility shown by fans, which Allums has learned to use to his advantage:
Some opposing fans will be licking their chops to hurl other names at Allums. He has already heard taunts from fans for years: With a masculine build, opposing fans regularly try to insult him, calling him a “man.” What those fans don’t know is that Allums relishes it.
“I love it,” Allums said. “I say, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ It makes me feel better about myself to hear them call me a man.”
Read more of Allums’ story at Outsports. And to get a broader scope of trans athletes’ fights for inclusion, check out a recent report released by the National Center for Lesbian Rights called “On The Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes.”