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Basketball coach Layne Ingram is our Coaching Triumph Award winner

The Triumph Awards, in partnership with NCLR, honor college basketball coach Layne Ingram, whose passion for basketball, trans rights and social justice make him a role model.

Layne Ingram is a coach of women’s basketball and a transgender man.
Layne Ingram.
Photo by Kevin W. Fowler

With efforts to discriminate growing amid an unprecedented level of anti-transgender hate spreading all around the world, Outsports is stepping-up in a brand new way. Every day for the past week, we have announced a new winner of a new award.

The Outsports Triumph Awards, in partnership with NCLR, celebrate a wide range of transgender athletes, coaches and other people working in the interest of trans competitors; Some names you know; others are only now making a name for themselves in LGBTQ sports. Today: Our coaching winner.

“I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I didn’t have basketball growing up, I do not know how I would have made it or what I would have been,” writes Layne Ingram, coach of the Lansing Community College women’s basketball team in Michigan.

Ingram, 40, is a basketball junkie, a sport that consumed him growing up, what kept him focused and what kept any negative thoughts at bay. Basketball is what allowed him to thrive as a star player on the women’s teams in high school and at the University of Michigan and got him drafted in the WNBA in 2002.

His love of basketball makes Ingram passionate about coaching while also driving him as an activist as a Black trans male. His passion and willingness to speak out make Ingram an easy choice for Outsports Coaching Triumph Award winner.

“Thank goodness for me that I didn’t know that I was trans when I was a kid because unaffected adults would have tried to take [basketball] away from me under the guise of protecting other kids,” Ingram wrote on his personal blog in February.

“I have watched people I would have considered friends pass around petitions to keep trans kids from playing sports, 20 states are working on bills to ban trans kids from sports and locker rooms, and there are countless memes and arguments on the internet about this fictional trans takeover of sports. It just doesn’t exist. What does exist is ignorance, fear and transphobia. This attack on trans kids who just want to be themselves and have an opportunity to play sports like every other kid is really, really hard to watch and hear. REALLY HARD.”

Despite the headwinds trans people face, Ingram won’t stay silent. It’s why he is speaking out against the shameful bills in states that would ban trans women from playing sports.

“I lived for 36 years of my life in the gender I was born into. I played basketball as a girl and woman. I didn’t know then what young people know now. I think if you want to play a sport then fight for it,” Ingram told me last year as he looked back on his life since coming out.

Ingram’s team had a losing record this season and went out in the first round of its conference tournament. But he remains upbeat and already looking ahead to next season. He has been on testosterone for four years and in November celebrated his 40th birthday, which held a lot of symbolism for him.

“I’ve been waiting for this birthday for like 27 years,” he wrote. “That’s not an exaggeration. When I got to pick out my jersey as a freshman in high school at 13, the only number left that would fit me was #40. That was my number all the way through high school and college. It’s on the 20th — 11/20/20 would have been such a cool party date!!!! And what does 20 + 20 equal??? 40!!!!!”

Happy belated birthday, coach, and welcome to the rest of your life. We know Ingram will never stop fighting for what he believes in.

Layne Ingram crosses his arms.
Triumph Award winner Coach Layne Ingram.
Shelby Weldon

Layne Ingram is a former collegiate and professional basketball player and current head women’s basketball coach at Lansing Community College in Michigan. He is a fierce LGBTQ+ advocate and out trans man. He can be reached at laynedingram@gmail.com or @the_right_layne on Twitter.

Click here to read more about the awards, this year’s winners and other trans sports icons we are celebrating.

Outsports will announce the final recipient of a Triumph Award, our Pioneer Award, tomorrow on the Trans Day of Visibility, March 31.