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Kye Allums

Kye Allums was the first openly transgender player to play Division I college basketball. Hatchet File Photo

When former women’s basketball guard Kye Allums came out as the first transgender Division 1 athlete three years ago, media pressure and ESPN specials were suffocating. The alumnus wanted to hurt himself, nearly cutting himself with a kitchen knife.

“They showed pictures of me when I was younger, they used my old name, and my mom showed my coming-out letter on camera. My face was everywhere, continuously, for an entire week,” Allums wrote in Playboy on Wednesday.

But Allums wrote Wednesday that while the stressful media attention caused him to run from the spotlight, he used the privacy to “regain my energy and find myself.”

About a year later, after reactivating his Facebook account, Allums realized from the 25,000 unread messages he had received, that he had the chance to “make a difference in people’s lives.” It started small, replying to all those who had reached out to him, and grew into a national attempt to teach “Trans 101″ to players and coaches across the country.

Now he’s devoting time to his LGBT advocacy campaign, “Project I Am Enough.”

“At the college level, I’m trying to create a safe environment for other openly trans athletes,” Allums said in the article. “It’s about teaching players and coaches Trans 101—what the terms mean and that there’s a difference between biological sex and gender identity.”

This newest project evolved out of a two-minute video Allums posted offering financial support for those pursuing gender-reassignment surgery. Now a fundraising campaign for those surgeries, the project serves as “a storytelling platform dedicated to promoting self-love, acceptance, and respect for everyone on the gender spectrum.”

Allums’ mission won’t stop here, though, as he plans to complete similar LGBT themed documentaries every summer.

If he had it his way, he said, “enough LGBT athletes will be out that fans and the media will greet a player’s sexuality with a shrug, as opposed to a segment on ’Outside the Lines’ or the cover of Sports Illustrated.”

The documentary is set to be available for streaming this Friday. Look to the project’s Twitter and fundraising pages for more updates.

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Athletic director Patrick Nero. Hatchet File Photo

Athletic director Patrick Nero wrote Friday in the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, about the “small, but encouraging” strides college and professional sports have made toward accepting of LGBT players.

Nero provided staunch support for creating a positive environment at GW for LGBT athletes, pointing to the Colonials’ participation in the “It Gets Better” and “You Can Play” projects. He also praised GW alumnus Kye Allums, the first openly transgender man to play on a Division 1 basketball team in 2010-11.

“Kye’s brave decision to come out was a challenge not only for Kye, but his teammates, our university and college sports. It is through challenges such as this that people learn,” he wrote. “This is what the college years should be about.”

Nero has ushered in a culture shift in GW athletics, aligning athletics goals with the University’s broader vision of becoming an academic powerhouse. He wrote in the Blade that the athletic department has also valued playing a role in LGBT and social issues.

The women’s volleyball team will continue that commitment Saturday as it hosts UMBC in a “You Can Play” sponsored game.

“We talk often as an athletic program about the importance of being part of the greater GW community. Too often intercollegiate athletic programs have strayed from the greater mission of the university, we try hard every day to see that this doesn’t happen here,” he wrote.

“Generations of stereotyping created a harmful environment that we are just now making progress on.”

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Kye Allums, the first transgender player in NCAA Division I history, appeared in a new Fearless Project video touting the support he received from the University and his team after his decision to come out in November 2010 – a message that rebuts what he told Sports Illustrated earlier this year.

The video sheds new light on the intricacies of Allums’ story and his relationship with his coaches and teammates following his decision to come out at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

In May, Allums told Sports Illustrated the scene in the Colonials locker room was one of “turmoil” and said he felt a lack of support from then-head coach Mike Bozeman. But in the Fearless Project video, Allums said the coaches and administration “immediately supported” him, and that teammates, coaches and administrators were “so positive.”

The Fearless Project features high school and collegiate athletes who openly self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and continue to compete on their school’s sports teams.

“Not everybody used male pronouns, but nobody used female pronouns because they knew that it hurt me and made me feel uncomfortable. And they wanted me to be happy,” Allums said in the video. “They cared about my feelings. And they wanted me to be in an environment where I could perform well.”

While the Fearless Project video focuses on the support Allums said he initially received upon coming out, the Sports Illustrated article described an atmosphere that was less supportive following increased media attention. Allums told the magazine that his relationship with his teammates went “from them all having my back to no one having my back.”

“He also felt abandoned by coach Mike Bozeman,” the article reported.”[Bozeman] was like, Now you’re affecting us,” Allums says. “He pointed to the freshmen and he’s like, ‘Did you guys come here to have to deal with this?’”

The latest twist in Allums’ story, in which his mother alleged the University was keeping the media from her son, comes immediately after GW announced a new partnership with the You Can Play video campaign. The University’s video, which features 18 student-athletes, supports inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes in the University’s 23 varsity sports and its other athletics and recreation programs.

Allums, too, is heavily involved in LGBT advocacy. In the Fearless Project video, he reveals that he is working on creating Project IMEnough, which will focus on creating a support system for other trans athletes. And in the fall, Allums said he intends to travel to other universities to share his story and educate students on trans issues.

Fearless Project: Kye Allums, Basketball, George Washington University, IMEnough: an organization for transgender athletes from Jeff Sheng on Vimeo.

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Kye Allums

Kye Allums was the first openly transgender player to play Division I college basketball. | File Photo

When former women’s basketball player Kye Allums announced in November 2010 that he was the first transgender player in NCAA Division I history, it was with the public support of then-head coach Mike Bozeman.

But in the latest twist in a story that also saw Rolanda Delamartinez – Allums’ mother – allege that the University was keeping Allums from the media, a new Sports Illustrated article reported that behind the scenes, the Colonials locker room was thrown into “turmoil” because of Allums’ announcement.

Allums felt abandoned by his teammates in the ensuing media frenzy, the article reported, quoting unnamed players who said they wished he had waited to come out until after graduation. Allums said Bozeman, who was fired in March, also reacted negatively.

“[Bozeman] was like, ‘Now you’re affecting us,’” Allums said. “He pointed to the freshmen and he’s like, ‘Did you guys come here to have to deal with this?’”

In the Sports Illustrated article, Bozeman points to the lack of University support as a major factor behind the locker room crisis.

“I was winging it,” Bozeman said. “[The University] provided us with a sports psychologist to come and talk to the team, but that was toward the end of the year. We needed that at the beginning.”

Allums announced he would not return to the team in May 2011, citing lasting effects from a series of concussions that caused him to miss most of the 2010-11 season. He moved to New York City in March, according to the article, and spends most of his time “giving speeches on trans issues.” In November, Allums appeared on an episode of “Anderson” that discussed children and teenagers who identify as transgender. His ultimate goal, he said, is to run a foundation that helps trans youth like the “dozens” who have reached out to him on Facebook.

Allums began to physically transition from female to male last May, the Sports Illustrated article reported. He’s taking testosterone injections that have deepened his voice, increased his hat and foot size, caused him to grow a light mustache and enabled him to run faster. And he wants to use his remaining NCAA eligibility “to play with a men’s team at a small college while completing a master’s degree in psychology or sociology,” the article reported.

“Basketball is basketball,” Allums said. “If I can play, I can play.”

 

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Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 3:44 p.m.

Kye Allums to appear on ‘Anderson’

Kye Allums

Kye Allums was the first openly transgender player to play Division I college basketball. | File Photo

Former women’s basketball player Kye Allums will appear on Anderson Cooper’s talk show “Anderson” tomorrow as part of an episode that discusses children and teenagers who identify as transgender.

Allums made headlines last year as the first transgender athlete in Division I sports, first openly identifying himself as transgender in Out Magazine in November 2010. He was able to maintain a spot on GW’s roster by agreeing to hold off on any gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy until April 2012, by which time he would have completed his eligibility as a student-athlete.

His announcement thrust Allums into the spotlight as a symbol of the transgender community. In February, the University’s Office of Media Relations came under scrutiny, when Rolanda Delamartinez, Allums’ mother, said that the University stifled media opportunities for her son and rejected media requests in an effort to bury the story, allegations the University denied.

The departure of the shooting guard from the program was announced in May. At the time, athletics communications spokesperson Jesse Hooker said Allums would still enroll at the University for the fall semester, but declined to comment when asked if GW would continue to honor Allums’ athletics scholarship in light of his departure from the team.

“Kye has informed the athletic department that, after careful consideration, he has decided that it is in his best interest to no longer participate in intercollegiate athletics,” a University statement read. “We respect his wishes, and he has our continued support.”

“Anderson” airs tomorrow, Nov. 16, on ABC7 at 4 p.m.

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This post was written by Senior Staff Writer Neil Sharma

With 5:03 remaining in the first half of the women’s basketball team’s game Saturday afternoon against Stony Brook, Seawolves senior Kristen Jeter hit a jumper to cut GW’s lead to 10 points at 28-18. That basket, just 15 minutes into the game, would be the closest Stony Brook would come to catching the Colonials for the rest of the game.

After Jeter’s basket, GW went on a 26-1 run that lasted until the 17:23 mark of the second half, giving the Colonials more than enough offense to earn the 69-49 win.

The Colonials (5-4) had their best game of the season shooting the ball against the Seawolves, shooting 50 percent from the floor. GW’s 69 points were also a season-high.

“We hadn’t done anything different to the offense, of course a little tweaking,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “But it’s all about the players, all about the execution of the offense. It’s all about putting the players in the places where they can be effective, and then getting the timing right. I just think the timing was great today, and they executed a lot better.”

All 11 players that dressed for the game for GW scored Saturday. Juniors Tara Booker and Kye Allums led the Colonials with 11 and 10 points, respectively, but it was the entire team, not any individual player, that shone against Stony Brook.

“I was very happy. That’s basically the system,” Bozeman said. “[The system] makes everyone on the defensive end guard have to guard individual that’s on the court, and then we get openings. We just want to take advantage of what the defense gives us, always moving, always putting the defense on their heels so to speak, and keep them off balance.”

For a game that wound up as lopsided as it was, the two teams played relatively even for much of the first half. Neither team was able to build a double-digit lead within the first 10 minutes of the half, but a combination of GW’s hot shooting and lock-down defense helped blow the game open in favor of the Colonials. GW was especially strong in the paint, scoring 28 points inside. The Colonials also made 19 of 16 free throw attempts.

The GW defense held Stony Brook to 30 percent shooting for the game, and GW was able to capitalize on its stops, scoring 29 points off of turnovers. The Colonials lead grew to as high as 35 at points during the second half, but a 13-3 Seawolf run helped Stony Brook shrink the deficit.

The win had added significance for the Colonials as a bounce-back game after a 60-35 loss at Old Dominion last Wednesday night. Booker said she and her teammates took lessons from the team’s worst loss of the season and translated them into Saturday’s performance.

“Coach always says the most important game is the next one,” Booker said. “So after last game we took our lessons from there, and we just came out [today] and put what we learned from that game.”

GW is a month into its season, and will begin conference play in mid-January. Bozeman believed this was a good time to reflect on the season so far, and evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I think our overall skill is pretty high. I think the mental toughness part of putting together two halves for an entire game [is the weakness],” Bozeman said. “I think if we face challenges, if we’re not shooting well, then us doing the other parts that makes us a skillful team, that’s where we’ll get our improvement from, along with – always – the effort.”

The team will suit up for it’s last home game of the calendar year this Wednesday, as they face non-conference opponent Auburn. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Elizabeth Traynor

Wednesday night’s game was notable for the women’s basketball team for all the wrong reasons. The Colonials (4-4) were unable to find their rhythm offensively, ultimately falling 60-35 to Old Dominon. The loss dropped GW to .500 for the season.

The team shot a season-worst 26 percent, ending the game with its lowest point total of the season. The first half of the game was also GW’s worst of the season, but despite scoring only 13 points, the Colonials went into the locker room for halftime down just nine points.

GW pulled to within four points of the Lady Monarchs with 17:51 remaning in the game, but then went cold after sophomore Danni Jackson missed a jumper. The Colonials went five-for-23 for the rest of the game, while Old Dominion dominated play with crippling scoring runs. The Lady Monarchs also capitalized off of some sloppy ball handling by GW, turning 22 Colonial turnovers into 18 points Wednesday night.

Redshirt sophomore Brooke Wilson and junior Kye Allums were the lead scorers for the Colonials with nine points each. Tia Lewis had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Old Dominion to lead all players in both categories. Lewis’ teammate JoNiquia Guilford had 13 points.

The Colonials will look to rebound against Stony Brook at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center Saturday. The game is also Kids Day and Autograph Day.

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Kye Allums is the first openly transgender player to play Division I college basketball. Chris Gregory | Senior Staff Photographer

A week ago there was nothing remarkable about Kye Allums, a junior shooting guard on the women’s basketball team. As of Monday night though, Allums became remarkable in a way no other player has ever been: he’s the first openly transgender player to play Division I college basketball.

Allums, who identified himself as a lesbian through high school, said he began to notice differences in himself when people would refer to him using feminine pronouns.

“I just feel more comfortable with things that men quote-unquote do,” he said. “Just people saying ‘he’ makes me feel at ease, but if people say ‘her,’ it doesn’t sit well with me.”

Allums, a native of Hugo, Minn., explained to OutSports.com that he finally came to the realization that he was a man during a text message argument with his mother. “Who do you think you are, young lady?,” Allums said he remembers reading in a message from his mother, and the answer suddenly clicked.

To maintain his eligibility as a student athlete on the women’s basketball team, Allums – who averaged 7.4 points and shot .371 from beyond the three-point line last year – said he will hold off on any gender reassignment surgery or hormone therapy until April 2012, by which time he will have completed his eligibility as a student athlete.

Allums’ story, as well as his role as a pioneer for transgender athletes, has drawn attention from national media and has made him a type of hero in the transgender community. It’s a role he said he knew he was stepping into when he announced his decision to self-identify as male. The attention, both positive and negative, is something he’s also comfortable with.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I guess that’s good because that means I’m going to be getting out an issue and clearing things up, or trying to clear things up for people who don’t understand something. That was a good thing.”

Allums, who first made his decision public Monday in an interview with OutSports.com, said that his biggest fear in coming out as a transgender person wasn’t the negative attention he might receive, but the possibility that making his choice public might make him ineligible to play college basketball.

When he first realized as a freshman that he self-identified as a man, Allums initially decided to keep his decision private until after graduation. Once he realized, after research and conversations with friends and teammates, that coming out as a transgender individual wouldn’t interfere with his basketball career, he made the decision to reveal his true self.

“It made me mad because I shouldn’t have to feel like this, I shouldn’t have to feel like I should even have to go through this and say anything about myself,” Allums said. “In reality, in this world, you have to feel like that because people just don’t understand.”

The process began last season, when Allums began telling his teammates and correcting people who used female pronouns when describing him. Telling his head coach, Mike Bozeman, was a more difficult proposition. Religious comments from Bozeman in the past made Allums uncertain if the coach would be accepting of what he had to tell him, but Bozeman quickly put any of Allums’ fears to rest.

“Halfway into it, he made me comfortable,” Allums said. “Just being like, ‘Why were you nervous to tell me in the first place?’ By him telling me that he had my back and that it was never gonna change and I shouldn’t have assumed anything.”

Bozeman, who often refers to his team as a “basketball family,” said that his reaction to the news was one of immediate compassion and concern for his player.

“I’m a father of five and I count my team in that degree as my extended family. Our relationship hasn’t changed and it won’t change,” Bozeman said. “We’re a basketball family, and I just immediately felt like I needed to support Kye in any way possible, as I would any other student athlete that’s under my watch.”

Allums agrees that his relationship with Bozeman hasn’t changed since he found out about Allums’ decision.
“He still yells at me when I jump off the wrong foot, he still tries to box with me and stuff. He still talks about my mohawk and it not being all combed out,” Allums said.

Allums said he’s gotten numerous phone calls, text messages and Facebook messages in support. One message came all the way from Germany, he said, and the international attention surprised even him.

“The one from Germany, that was crazy. That’s when I was like, ‘Wow,’” Allums said. “That one was really special. And I got one from an old teammate from junior high when I played with her, and I didn’t even know that she still knew who I was and she was saying how awesome I was and all these other things.”

He said it is a relief that he can finally be himself in front of everyone.

“I didn’t talk as much. I wasn’t being me. And I’m a talkative person, I could talk for days, but I wouldn’t talk to my teammates, I wasn’t talking to my friends, I wasn’t texting people. People were like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and I just wasn’t being me,” Allums said of his life before making his choice public. “By saying something, I was like, ‘Ok, I can go back to just being me and focus.’”

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