Kye Allums, a junior at George Washington University, is the first transgender athlete to play in the women’s basketball league, despite identifying openly as a male.
The choice was Allums’ own decision and it’s one that has sparked a lot of attention. His mohawked visage has been splashed across Sports Illustrated and CNN, among others. Though he’d originally intended to wait until after he graduated, Allums had a change of plans, explained in his official statement:
I decided to transition, that is, change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am; and I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are.
The NCAA rules state that “a female who wants to be socially identified as a male but has not undergone hormone treatments or surgery may compete on a women’s team,” which means Allums can’t begin his physical transition until after his college basketball days are over.
It is hard, because I would love for everything to happen right now. But to those who wait, good things come. So I’m waiting and just focusing on basketball and school, and it’s going to come. As long as I think like that, it doesn’t seem like a hard thing.
Though he’s not the first athlete to go public with his gender identity, Allums does represent a shifting landscape for transgendered individuals. His situation differs from Caster Semenya’s, the track-and-field gold medalist from South Africa who was singled out for her looks, not her gender identity.
“Yes, I am a male on a female team,” said Allums. “I didn’t choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do.”