Haven’t heard of Kye Allums — formerly Kay-Kay — yet? You will soon.
The NCAA athlete, who is currently a junior shooting guard on the George Washington University women’s basketball team, recently decided to reveal that he is transgender.
In other words, Kye was born a girl, and a biological female, but has always identified as being male on the inside. Now he has come out to his team — and the world.
G.W. has been supportive, as have his team members. But because of his status as a Division I athlete, there are strict rules on what he can and can’t do about his transition from one gender to another. No testosterone therapy until he graduates, for example.
And please, he says, do call him “he.”
Kye’s is a precedent-setting admission, sure, but what we really wanted to know was this: How did he first know he was transgender? What does he wish people would understand about that? And where did he find the courage to come out?
After the jump, we chat with an athlete with serious courage.
Lemondrop: How did you first know you were transgender?
Kye Allums: I haven’t always known. It started after high school, my freshman year of college when I moved away from home, and I had to start thinking about myself and what I wanted.
Were there signs growing up that you were different from other girls?
Well, for me, I liked playing football — all the things that the guys would do. But I would also get teddy bears and I would make my sisters play house with me. I baked cookies with my mom. I never really thought I had to pick either/or.
What made you decide to break the news to your team now?
I was sick of feeling like I had to hide everything. It was getting to the point where it was affecting basketball, and I couldn’t focus. I needed to say, “This is me,” and I said it. I feel like the world is off of my shoulders now.
Who was the first person you told?
One of my good friends on the team. She thought it was a joke at first. Then, when I started to say, no, no — and to get serious about it, she got on board. Now she’s the first person to correct someone if they screw up.
Meaning calling you “she” instead of “he.” Do people do that a lot?
Yeah, it happens a lot. As long as people acknowledge that they made a mistake, then I’m fine with it. And people acknowledge it all the time!
How’s your family reacting?
My mom said that she still loved me, and she didn’t understand, but she’s going to try … My dad? That’s a different story, but he said he loves me. They’re supportive.
You’re going to keep playing for the women’s team until you graduate, but you can’t undergo hormone therapy until then. What are your long-term plans?
Long term, I plan on becoming a male 100 percent, with hormones and surgery and all that.
Read More About Kye Allums and Other Athletes Who’ve Broken the Mold
I definitely want to go to school for architecture and be a personal trainer and have a couple of businesses.
In other words, you’re a real slacker. What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about being transgender?
That maybe I have both body parts, from a male and a woman. Or that I am a man on a woman’s team. Or that I was born male. My sex is female, because I was born a biological female, and my gender is male.
Some people have alleged that it’s not fair that you’re playing on a women’s team. That maybe you should try out for the men’s team now. What do you say to them?
Of course it’s fair! I’m just saying how I feel. It doesn’t change who I am. If I said, “I feel tired today,” then should I not play on a women’s team?
How did you learn about what it means to be transgender?
I took a class [at G.W.] on gender in general. I wrote papers on transgender athletes. I wrote about a motocross athlete, male-to-female, who was competing and then she stopped competing because people said it wasn’t fair that she used to be a he, even though she didn’t take hormones or anything.
I wrote about the Olympics and how some players were competing without taking hormones — a male-to-female competing with other women — and they hadn’t done anything! There were no rules yet. And they wound up having to give their medals back because people said they were cheating.
And I went online and found support groups for people who felt the same things that I did.
What is it that you wish people would understand about how you feel?
Nobody chooses to feel a certain way. Just because my body is like this doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to want to play against other people.
I feel like I want to compete with these people around me. Nobody should have the right to tell anybody that that’s not right.
Do you think you’ll keep competing in sports after college?
I love sports to death, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
What about dating? Once you’ve had the surgery, will you be a straight male, who dates girls?
I don’t like labels. I don’t like labeling myself. I’m just me.