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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Transgender player's career cut short

By Eamonn Brennan

You may not remember the story of Kye Allums. In November 2010, Allums, a member of the George Washington women's hoops team, became the first publicly transgender athlete to play Division I college basketball.

Allums was born a female, but decided to transition and become a male. To maintain his competitive status in women's hoops, Allums delayed medical hormonal treatments, and the NCAA cleared him to continue playing against fellow members of his biological sex. In essence, Allums' change was about identity, about helping the external match the internal, and it raised awareness of transgender identity issues in an arena where even homosexuality remains a hotly debated subject.

Allums is back in the news this week, but for far less encouraging reasons. His first season as a transgender male was hampered by two early-season concussions that caused him to miss all but eight games. Wednesday, the school announced what may have been a foregone conclusion: Because of the injuries, Allums has decided it was "in his best interest to no longer participate in intercollegiate athletics."

The decision seems sound. In March, Allums told the AP that he had suffered a total of eight concussions and that he was having memory trouble; doctors told him that if he were a football player, his career would almost certainly be over.

It's sad to see any player's career cut short by injuries. But I'd argue it's even sadder to see Allums -- whose public bravery no doubt served as inspiration to even a (presumably) small number of athletes with transgender identities -- unable to live out his final season with his teammates.