Today we’re thrilled to tell the story of Kye Allums, a guard for the George Washington University women’s basketball team.
Earlier this year, Jenelle DeVits from Our Group took Outsports to task for not telling the stories of more women and racial minorities. I asked her to find us these stories and we’ll tell them. In April, Jenelle introduced me to Kye. He loved the idea of telling his story in hopes of helping to change the world, but he was concerned about whether he might lose his spot on the women’s team, and he was particularly fearful of
addressing the issues with his head coach.
In May, I introduced Kye to Helen Carroll, who runs the Homophobia in Sport Project for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and who (along with Pat Griffin) has been leading the way for transgender equality in the NCAA. As a former head college basketball coach, Helen has an intimate knowledge of how to navigate the sometimes scary waters of athletes’ relationships with coaches and university staff.
“Conversations with Kye have been how to find the words and language to sit down and speak with his coach,” Helen said, “and how to explain to his coach who he is and what he needs for support.”
As the spring and summer progressed, Kye and I spoke and texted dozens of times. I found him to be deeply engaging with many strong aspects to his personality. He’s fun, laughing and cracking jokes whenever possible. He’s smart and a thinker, carefully analyzing issues and conversations and educating himself on topics he doesn’t understand. And he’s confident. Super confident. He’s sure of himself and is committed to changing the world. If someone was to design the perfect trailblazer, it would be Kye.
As we approached the publication of the article, Kye and his coaches got the school involved. Helen talked at length with school officials to offer guidance on how to tackle the issue internally. Cindi Creager from GLAAD was brought in to talk with the school and offer insights on how to handle LGBT issues with the media. From my perspective, the school and team both seem to have embraced the fact that Kye felt the need to tell his story to the world, which is a wonderful statement about everyone involved.
To me, that’s really what this is about: Kye telling his story. For years he struggled to find who he was; Once he did find that person, he struggled with the fear of the unknown. Now transgender collegiate athletes have a strong voice out front on the issue. Kye’s story can help make other student-athletes struggling with these same issues.