GW's Kye Allums reflects on season
WASHINGTON -- At the start of the season, Kye Allums was one of a kind -- an openly transgender member of the George Washington women's basketball team.
It wasn't long before he became someone with an all-too-common problem: the athlete whose season is cut short because of a concussion.
"My big thing is my memory," Allums told The Associated Press. "Like, when I start speaking, I'll forget what I was talking about."
My big thing is my memory. Like, when I start speaking, I'll forget what I was talking about.” -- Kye Allums on concussions
Allums suffered two concussions during games early in the season. The last one, he said, was his eighth concussion overall and happened when he ran into a screen that jerked his head to the side and caused his brain "to shake around a little bit."
"I've been talking to the doctors a lot," Allums said. "And they say if this was football, I'd pretty much be done."
On Nov. 3, Allums was the center of a news conference at which he announced: "I am a male on a female team." He said he felt like a man inside a woman's body but that he would postpone the treatments and surgery that would anatomically change his gender because he wanted to continue playing basketball for the women's team.
Allums became an instant role model for transgender people. He received messages from those who said they were proud of him and inspired by him. His presence on the court throughout the season would raise his profile even more and would by itself help tell his story.
But Allums played in only eight games before the second concussion ended his season. Interviews were out because coach Mike Bozeman considered the transgender subject closed during the season -- the coach wanted the focus to be solely on basketball. Allums quickly and quietly faded away as a topic of basketball conversation.
That is, until Allums' mother gave an interview to The Washington Post late last month in which she claimed that Allums had been cleared to play but that school officials weren't allowing him to return. She also complained about the school's decision not to let him talk about his transgender status during the season.
Allums, however, told the AP that he still has multiple concussion symptoms and hasn't been cleared to play. He said he was "fine with the decision" not to have him do interviews during the season because the "coach has every right" to make sure the players are focused on the game.
"That was my mom really just being an outsider looking in ... like any parent would in trying to protect her child," Allums said. "My mom is a very aggressive person, and she was saying what she thought things were."
Now that the season is over, Allums plans to tell his story through speaking engagements and other forums.
"It meant a lot to me to be able to help and affect others in a positive way," he said. "I just want to get my message out there as much as I can while I'm not playing."
It meant a lot to me to be able to help and affect others in a positive way. I just want to get my message out there as much as I can while I'm not playing.” -- Kye Allums
Allums said he doesn't regret going public, nor does he regret putting off his testosterone treatments and surgery for basketball. He says the feedback he has received has been mostly positive, although he has also heard from detractors.
"It's pretty much people just stating their opinions about either religion or what they think I'm doing or what they think transgender is," Allums said. "But most of the time, it's just people that don't really know what they're talking about. They don't take the time to actually understand what things are. Those things don't really bother me because if you don't know what you're talking about, then you don't know what you're talking about. I just brush it off, really, and just keep moving."
Allums said he will be on the basketball team again in the fall -- his senior season -- if his concussion symptoms have finally subsided and he is cleared to play.
"I'm a fighter. I'm still trying to come back," Allums said. "I really do want to come back and play."
And if he can't?
"I'll just be trying to make some kind of difference in the world," he said. "Try to get into grad school and look forward to my life."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press