Transgender Male Playing on Division I Woman’s Basketball Team

Recently there was a fascinating story breaking out of George Washington University’s (GWU) woman’s basketball team:

One of their players, Kye Allums, now identifies as a transgender male.

Here is the link to the story.

I am always interested in college sports stories because, as some of you may know, I received an athletic scholarship to play Division I baseball in college. All I know is that I had a hard enough time with my teammates when I told them I was moving into Boystown with my best friends – who had just come out.

Since this story broke, a lot of articles are saying that her teammates and her university are handling her admission great. I have a few thoughts as a former Division I (DI) athlete:

1. I would assume her team would be handling this situation well. My experience has shown me that the majority (being over 50%) of DI woman’s softball and basketball teams are indeed lesbian. This is not a stereotype. It’s a fact that I experienced first hand. In fact, it was the softball team at my university that introduced me to everyone I knew in the LGBT world in Chicago. Such a situation was not only true at my school, but 100% of the other Division I schools around the country that I had friends who played sports at. I’m not saying this is generalizable to every single Division I school in the country, just to my school and the dozen or so other DI schools that I had friends who played at. The question might be, then, Why are so many lesbians on DI basketball and softball teams? I don’t know. I just know what my experienced showed me.

2. I would image the school would be handling it well. GWU is located in Washington, DC. It seems to me, not in a bad way, that every secular institution wants to be on the forefront of this type of stuff.

3. I wonder what the other sports and players are saying about this – especially any of the men’s teams/coaches/players? Funny how I haven’t been able to find one article with one quote from any of them. I wonder why they’re all being so silent? Oh, that’s right… Because homophobia runs wild among men Division I male athletes and coaches!

I’m sure the administration is telling the coaches (who coincidentally want to keep their jobs) to make sure their players keep their mouths shut about this. If I was given a hard time for being best friends with LGBTs, I couldn’t imagine what is going on behind the scenes about this. Or, who knows, maybe all of the other players from the other teams just accept Kye Allums as a man now? Culture has changed quite a bit on this topic since I played in the early 2000s.

Here are some of my questions though, which I would love to hear your thoughts:

The majority of the articles on this story, when I googled it, are saying that ‘a man is now playing Division I basketball on a woman’s team‘. Is it really a male playing Division I woman’s basketball?

At what point is a transgender person ‘officially’ considered a member of the opposite sex?

I’m not trying to offend anyone, but to me these headlines seem like the ‘man who gave birth’ story.  A man cannot give birth. A post-op transgender man, in my mind, is by all social constructs a man. But giving birth is impossible for biological men. Going through a transition from female to male cannot make someone a biological man, it just aligns a person’s gender dissonance (The best book I have ever read on transgender thought is by Julia Serano, called Whipping Girl).

Just the same, Kye Allums is still genetically a female, and thus, although she is now a calling himself a [transgender] man, Kye is still a woman playing on a woman’s basketball team who identifies as a transgender male. If Kye got the surgery, took the testosterone and went the full distance, do you think he would be allowed to play on a DI woman’s basketball team? That’s up to the NCAA. But something tells me the answer would be no. I just wish we could report and label things as they are, instead of always going to the shock value of creating something that is an impossibility – a biological and/or post-op male cannot play on a NCAA woman’s basketball team.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://Www.twitter.com/abrunk32 Alex brunk

    Andrew,

    You know I love everything the Marin foundation is doing for the community and am behind you all they way but right now I feel the need to call shenanigans. I came over right after your tweet specifically because I felt it was ignorant and felt you wouldn’t ever want to be considered uneducated. I find issue with your use of gender when you obviously mean sex, they are indeed two very different things. A trans person, at any stage, is not changing their gender they are changing their sex. Gender is a social construct with which one identifies masculine or feminine, sex is the specific sex organs.

    Having said this I ask to you, to everyone that reads this post, what makes a woman or man? If it is the organs how do you. Account for eunuchs or intersexed people that aren’t chromosonally he same sex that they are physically? Does an xy male that has a testosterone immunity disease and thus doesn’t grow a penis or testecials or show any sings of being a man physically all of a sudden become a woman because he has a vaginal cavity and thus our culture accepts him as such?

    Do you walk around asking people you perceive to be genetically inline with heir outward presentation if there genes match up? I highly doubt it, so why then is it appropriate to talk about when I trans person becomes accepted as the other sex?

    And for that matter why do people need to be perceived as male or female anyway?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Alex – Thanks for your thoughts! I’m not even sure what point I’m trying to make other than bringing it up for discussion. Lots to discuss…I’ll try to go in order:

      1. I actually mean gender, not sex. Julia Serano, whose book I mentioned, lists a bunch of definitions. She (a trans Male to Female) believes it’s called Gender Dissonance. Here is a link to her website to see what I’m talking about:

      http://www.juliaserano.com/whippinggirl.html

      2. As I said earlier, male/female aren’t necessarily about the organs, but about the social construct. I have a good friend who is Intersex, and he self-identifies as a man after being raised a girl his whole life. He is a man to me. See here: http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2010/video-of-living-in-the-tension-event-intersex/

      3. I asked the question about trans person being accepted as the ‘other’ gender because in this particular situation, he is playing on a woman’s DI basketball team where gender/sex/whatever you want to call it makes the entire difference in the world. Men aren’t allowed to play on woman’s teams (college or pro) and visa-versa. It makes a huge difference. When my trans friends told me they were trans and wanted to be referenced to the opposite gender, I did so immediately with no problem. This situation needs more public care because he is playing on a woman’s team. But he is not a he, yet, at least, by rules of allowing him to play this sport with a gender/sex specific team. Socially, yes, he is a he. According to the NCAA and rules, no, he is still a she no matter what he calls himself. I’m not suggesting he gets kicked off the team or anything like that. I guess I’m just making a comment to the headline world that needs to clarify it’s a pre-op transgender male playing on a woman’s basketball team. It’s just like the “pregnant man” issue I brought up. It’s not a pregnant man. It’s a (post-op) transgender man. Once again, socially, yes, he’s a man.

      • Eugene

        “Men aren’t allowed to play on woman’s teams (college or pro) and visa-versa. It makes a huge difference.”

        Isn’t it the problem? Are we too scared to realize that a woman can spend countless hours in order to become the best female athlete in the world, but it would only make her as strong as an average male athlete? Or are we afraid of male synchronized swimmers? :)

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    If Kyle’s a transgendered man, then he’s a man. If he self-identifies as male, then masculine pronouns would seem appropriate. Your questions reminded me of the pregnant man who was on Oprah a couple years back (sorry, I can’t remember his name). I have no problem recognizing and accepting him as a man, even though he hasn’t fully transitioned.

    Whether or not Kyle Allums is allowed to play women’s basketball? I defer to those in power to make that decision, as well as Kyle’s conscience for continuing to play women’s basketball as a man. I’m more of a co-ed type of guy, anyway…

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jon – It’s an interesting juxtaposition between DI athletics, gender and media – something that really hasn’t ever been broached in this way before. I, as you, call trans people the name/gender they see themselves as. I guess the difference I would make here is that socially, he is a he. Athletically, he is still a she. I don’t know…

    • Eugene

      “Whether or not Kyle Allums is allowed to play women’s basketball? I defer to those in power to make that decision…”

      It sounds kinda sad. While you’re at it, you may defer to “those in power” to decide whether gay people can get married. :(

      • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

        I’m not a sports fan, but I can see why the league wouldn’t want artificial hormones affecting one player’s game to the possible detriment to the rest of the players.

        That said, I don’t read that Kyle is at any risk for being booted off this team.

  • Alex brunk

    Andrew, I’m not sure where the gender dissonance comes in but I figured I would also remind you that this topic was brought to the media before with the African runner who was found to be intersexed and thus banned from the medal she won in the olympics. Personally I don’t believe he should be able to play with he women if his body is made to act male. If he is not on testosterone then they really cannot deny him the right to play with the women and if he isn’t on testosterone and wants to play with he women I don’t feel it should be disallowed just because of his hormones. Women have been allowed to play on strictly male teams before when the female equivalent was not offered. Since it is offered I feel it must come down to whether or not he will have a hormonal advantage or if he will be on an equal playing field.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Alex – Here are some of my thoughts on the South African sprinter: http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2009/there-is-always-someone-more-oppressed-than-you/

      I think in the future, orgs like the NCAA and the Olympics and/or other sports institutions are going to have to take these case by case. There are so many variants that I think it would do great injustice to try to make blanket statements/rulings on such matters that have never had to be faced before. I guess there would always be a loop-hole somewhere… I would rather not see this become a loop-hole matter and rather focus it on individual situations. We’ll see what happens…

  • Eugene

    “My experience has shown me that the majority (being over 50%) of DI woman’s softball and basketball teams are indeed lesbian. This is not a stereotype. It’s a fact that I experienced first hand.”

    I know it isn’t supposed to be a joke, but it sounds funny. :)

    Jokes aside, if that’s the case, aren’t gender restrictions be as fair/unfair as sexual orientation restrictions?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      In the case of major sports in America, there are no sexual orientation restrictions. The “interesting” part though, is that there has never been one, NOT ONE, out gay male to play any of the major sports (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) – both in college AND in the pros. There have been two former NFL players and one former MLB player to come out after they retired. But that’s it.

  • Rose

    Andrew,

    Great post with many important and difficult questions.

    While I don’t feel qualified to answer the main questions in the article, I think I do have some insight into why there are many lesbians in DI basketball and softball . . . and I would add soccer. I can personally understand the attraction to athletics and what that identity gives to females in general.

    For me–and I know this may be TMI for a blog comment–I’m pretty sure that I would have at least attempted (and possibly committed) suicide as a freshman in high school had it not been for soccer, my teammates, and my coaches. Like most teens, I was very insecure, vulnerable, and didn’t fit in with any kind of clicks or groups in high school . . . that is, except for my team. While I was not that great of a player at first (I was very small and short), I worked hard (in soccer and school) and ended up getting a DI scholarship. (I consider a handful of my college teammates to be some of my best friends.)

    I think athletics, in particular, gives young people a sense of belonging, identity, and camaraderie. And while other clubs and organizations can also provide these things, athletics is unique in that it is not only mental, but also physical–your mind AND your body are challenged and forced to connect. I think the physicality of the sport is especially great for females, too, because it allows them to connect with and use their body in a healthy, productive, and beneficial way, therefore leading to self confidence, physical and mental health, and an appreciate for (rather than repulsion for or confusion with ) their physical bodies, etc.

    So, all of this to say that I think one of the main draws of athletics for lesbians (along with all female athletes) is the camaraderie, identity, and mind-BODY engagement that the particular sport offers. I’m sure there’s a ton more to say and explore about the implications, roots, and depth of this mind and body thing with female athletics, but this is all I have to say at the moment.

    Thanks again for all you do, Andrew. I’m praying for rest and recovery for your mind and body :)

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Rose – There’s no such thing as TMI in my book :) !!! And way to show everyone what a small and short freshman can turn into getting your DI scholarship! And thank you so, so much for being so real and honest in sharing your story. I’ll tell you, I have never thought about the intertwined connection between mind and body when it comes to sports. You just broke me off some huge knowledge! I obviously don’t think through the filter of a female, and for my sports life it was about working hard to dominate and win; as I’m sure much of the subsidiary stuff was a secondary relationship that I benefited from. It would have never crossed my mind how much the physicality and control of body through sport connects and improves wider ranging ramifications on ‘self.’ I can see that very clearly since you pointed it out. What insight! Thanks :)

  • Andrew A

    Interesting piece. It left me wondering about a few things. Is he seeking a reassignment operation? At which point does he think it would no longer be appropriate to play on the women’s basketball team? I see no need for the school to decide he can’t play if he wants to and is still registered as a female student at the school. I’m assuming he’s not legally changing genders until after he’s done playing basketball, because that would be shooting himself in the foot.

    In my alma mater, the High School homecoming elections came under a lot of scrutiny because the students voted for a transgender male to be their king. Oak was still a female in the school’s eyes, and while they had made accommodations for this student in the past in situations where his gender affected his extracurriculars (band camp for example), the school held that a female could not be named Homecoming King. The students launched a Facebook campaign in support of him being homecoming king, but as far as I know, the school never acknowledged he got the most votes. All votes for him were thrown out.

    The student is only a grade older than my youngest brother, and when I asked my brother about Oak, my brother asked me why I kept referring to him as a “he”. Also, a girl in my church’s youth group is friends with Oak, but I noticed in conversation, that she still referred to Oak as “she”.

    I see no reason to not abide by the wishes of a transgender individual when it comes to how they want to be viewed in society. So much happens hormonally, genetically, and prenatally to mess with our preconceived notions of gender and sex that I see no need to assume I know what’s right for any individual to be called.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Andrew – What an interesting story with your high school. It just brings to light the new tasks that our culture has to be very intentional about figuring out. Like the high school lesbian in Mississippi, I think local school districts won’t be able to ‘get away’ with stuff that they did in the past – especially in high school. Because as of that age, a trans person isn’t legally allowed (less parent’s permission) to start any transition therapy. So I think the high school students are stuck(?) as they are registered by their family and administration as one particular sex… I think the only thing that could turn that around would be the legal system or independent cousenlors speaking to the district. Huh…

      As far as I have read about and from Kye, once he graduates, he will start the transition process through surgery and taking testosterone.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Remember way back when Michael Medved was a movie reviewer, back before he became a late-night right wing radio talk show host? Turns out that he’s all worked up over Kye Allums:

    “An insane level of political correctness recently dictated that George Washington University must accept a self-proclaimed man on the women’s basketball team. Kye Allums, a junior forward, ‘came out’ recently as a transgendered male, and the team officially recognized her male identity as she awaits gender reassignment surgery. This absurd situation means either that the athletic officials inexplicably allow a man to play on a woman’s team, or else they don’t really consider Allums a man. If male players said their essential nature was female, could they play on women’s teams? Separate competition for males and females recognizes the huge physical differences between the two genders—distinctions that remain even after hormone injections and genital surgery. The Allums example suggests that we take athletic competition too seriously to allow gender classification based on feelings alone.”

  • Mrs T

    I am not an expert on athletics or gender reassignment, but would it be possible in some schools for some sports, to have teams of both sexes or neutral teams? It would give many more people a chance to play & enjoy the sports that seem to be only for certan elites. HS or college sports are such a small part of life. If the person’s gender identity is as important as it is, they should be willing to forego certain activities to gain what they really want. I have spent my whole life with seasons of giving up certain normal things; many times it has been unfair & due to disfunctional people, but I have to accept these things as part of life.
    How many of you have NOT had to give up normal things because of others or because you chose a higher calling & needed to sacrifice?

  • Debbie Thurman

    Well, this is certainly a most interesting discussion from the perspective of a gal like me, who enjoyed sports in high school (I was co-captain of my basketball team, and a scrappy forward), as well as one who went to a women’s college but eschewed basketball there because of the discomfort I felt knowing that the coach and most of the players were lesbians. Add to that going through nine months of intense training as a Marine officer in a co-ed setting, where the media dogged us women because we were ground-breakers in a transitioning world (some of my male peers said they would “go into combat with me” should the opportunity arise). And tie it all up with the nice ribbon of my own (now-resolved) sexual identity confusion through much of my life. Yeah, interesting subject.

    Sports and the military are natural draws for women with gender-bending tendencies. I was a gender nonconforming child in many ways, but I also had my girly side. I liked boys (was “married” to one in first grade, ring and all!), but secretly carried some pretty deep confusion about who I was or wanted to be. And I painfully remember falling into the arms of the man who would become my first husband, while we were at Quantico, Va. in the height of our Marine training, sobbing and asking out loud, “What do they want me to be, a man or a woman??!!”

    It took me until adulthood to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin. Motherhood had a most delightful affect on me. It was as if I knew it was what I was always supposed to do/be. But even after having my two children (both girls), I experienced a latent urge to “know my other side” that was overpowering, intoxicating. Coming out of a long battle with depression only intensified it. That’s always been a bit of a mystery to me. I believe when I was depressed, my identity confusion was also repressed. What the exact relationship was between the two I cannot say. There were multiple factors to my depression.

    We women are not always easy to decode. LOL. I am a bit too old to play basketball today, but I still am an athletic type. Now, I am more likely to take a brisk walk or knock a tennis ball around, when I can find someone to play with. Wiffle ball is fun. I injured myself trying to play church softball a few years ago, so those days are over (I share that feeling of loss, Andrew). I used to love softball.

    Now, where else can we have a discussion like this? ☺ The other piece of learning to be comfortable in my own skin is that I also have realized how much I delight in relationships of all sorts. I am blessed with a rich diversity in the friendships I have today. I find people of all kinds to be fascinating, and I always have something to learn from them. God is far from finished with me!

    The whole trans topic is a hard one for most of us to wrap our heads around. One girl from a neighboring school we played basketball against in high school (we all knew she had a dreadful crush on my cousin) went on later in life to get reassignment surgery and was a police officer. Another gender-bending profession for women. I have no idea how happy she is today. I know personally of only one other trans person (also female to male), who is a professional counselor. I have had several conversations with this individual, and I know “he” has some underlying ambivalence about it. I can only relate to having thoughts as a child of wanting to be a boy sometimes. I grew in a different direction. Such is life.

    Sorry this is a little long.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Wow Debbie…thank you so much for that post in sharing your experiences! There is so much in there I would like to discuss. Can I start here:

      You mentioned that you decided not to play basketball in college because there were so many lesbians on the team. How/why did you come to that decision? I ask because I’ve never asked any Christian female why/why not they make such decisions – as I have heard similar stories through the grapevine before. Thanks. :)

      • Debbie Thurman

        Yes, I did say a mouthful, didn’t I? :)

        It was hard for me not to play on the team in college. I was a pretty good athlete (won the best foul-shooting percentage trophy in H.S.), loved basketball and really enjoyed the team camaraderie. To my knowledge, none of my high school teammates was SSA.

        But being around mannish women (I was not perceived as one of those, despite my internal turmoil) whose foul language I wanted to constantly bleep made me feel out of place and unsafe. Deep down, I probably worried about being hit on, since I’d remembered all too well my poor cousin having to run from the girl who had a crush on her.

        Now, contrast that to the uncomfortable fact that I had a serious crush on an older woman librarian later on in my college years. Painful story. It is what it is. Deep well.

      • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

        “You mentioned that you decided not to play basketball in college because there were so many lesbians on the team. How/why did you come to that decision? I ask because I’ve never asked any Christian female why/why not they make such decisions – as I have heard similar stories through the grapevine before. Thanks.”

        Andrew: Obviously Debbie can (and did) answer for herself.

        But I think it’s a continuation of the whole “we can’t mix with gay sinnners (but we love ‘em!)” attitude. Like when Baptist softball leagues expell teams because they have lesbian coaches (http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2010/06/baptist-softball-league-expels-team.html). Or chaplains who can’t volunteer for their police department b/c a new chaplain is a lesbian (http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-cant-christians-mix-with-gay-people.html). Or Christian schools who expel kids because they are gay or their parents are (http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2010/03/update-on-lesbians-kid-who-was-expelled.html or http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2010/05/another-kid-of-gay-moms-booted-by.html). Or parents who host a fake prom and send all their kids to another prom so that they don’t have to dance with the lesbian and the disabled kids.

        By and large, Christians don’t want gay people around them.

        • Debbie Thurman

          Gee, Jon. I was only giving a historical perspective that applies to my younger life. Did you catch the part where I threw in my own hypocrisy? I was not a fully mature Christian then, either.

          I am aware you feel the other stuff and that Christians have messed up, but that is not where I was going. I am here, talking to you. Not feeling icky about it in any way. I very much desire for us all to keep on talking and associating and get beyond the old prejudices. As I said in the longer comment, God is not done with me by a long shot. That should make you kinda happy. :)

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Actually, I was adding my perspective on the issue. Not commenting specifically on your’s. Should’ve added an IMHO.

    • Debbie Thurman

      OK. Everything we say here is basically IMHO. It appeared, when you quoted Andrew’s question to me and then referred to my answer, that you were commenting on my perspective.

      Is “the issue” then how folks in general respond to trans people (that’s Andrew’s post)? Because I do believe we have slightly different “baggage” (prejudices or feelings) to contend with when we look at gay issues, don’t you? Not sure how many people actually are confronted with T people, but a lot of folks know GLB people. I wonder if the trans issues are harder (or easier) for them to understand.

      • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

        I think that the trans issues are harder for people to understand and easier for folks with an agenda to grind to demonize the broader GLBT communities. Like when social conservatives defeat anti-discriminatory policies by using the boogey-man of predatory drag queens hiding in junior high bathrooms.

        An interesting question to ask folks is how your church might respond if a transgendered person (M2F or F2M) showed up at your church, with or without family?

        • Debbie Thurman

          Another interesting question to ponder is what drives people who have gender dysphoria/dissonance (it’s still classified as a disordered condition — Gender Identity Disorder — in the DSM, by the way) to seek gender reassignment, surgery and all, while others who may have similar feelings about their sex at birth live homosexually (which the DSM no longer classifies as a disorder).

          I haven’t picked up on any serious attempts to strike GID from the next revised edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It apparently will address intersex (Disorder of Sex Development) issues, as it should.

          Even more unusual than the GWU case are those where young children (a kindergartener in Broward County, Fla., for instance, according to media reports even back in 2006) are allowed to attend school in transgender mode. The DSM deals with GID only as early as adolescence.

          As I said, I had some gender nonconforming tendencies as a child. When I was quite young (and don’t remember), I’m told I boldly asserted, when a cousin commented on what a “pretty little girl” I was, “I’m not a girl, I’m a boy!” I carried some conscious desires to be a boy with me as I was growing up. And some of these memories predate the molestation I experienced at age 8, so that can’t be said to be the driving factor. Yet, I grew into a woman who loves being a woman.

          I do think we walk a fine line and must be extremely careful in determining whether or not a child should be put into the transgender mold. I don’t think anybody knows the extent of emotional harm that may be done when a vulnerable child is pushed in this direction. Even some adults have regretted their transitions and have sought to have their changed physical attributes changed back. It is playing with fire.

          As Christians, we must especially be careful. Can anyone presume to know the Creator’s perspective? Can the pot say to the Potter, “You made me wrong?” Check out Isaiah 29:16.

          That said, we still have to determine how to live with such people, showing them Christ-like love.

          • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

            GID isn’t another variation of homosexuality. Some with GID do indeed live homosexually, but others don’t. Also, I’m not sure that intersexed individuals should be include in the DSM-V edition of GID. They’re currently excluded from the GID definition and I think that’s appropriate given that it’s an obvious physical condition. As far as GID in pre-adolescent children goes, it’s in the DSM-IV but under a different diagnostic code than with adolescents and adults.

            Personally, I have few problems with allowing young children who are experiencing GIDIC to present differently than their birth gender. Surgical transitioning is another issue in my mind. Some people do regret their transitions later on and it’s a lot easier to postpone surgical transition for when you’re absolutely certain vs. reverse the transition. For this reason and for a few other health reason, I’m not terribly keen when people insist that someone like Kye isn’t truly male until he undergoes surgery. Some trans men and women will never fully transition, but I still respect their chosen gender.

            RE: questioning God’s intention for our bodies: Taken to the extreme, I should refuse to do anything about my one son’s congenital vision issues by that token. Of course, nobody ever questions my tinkering with D’s God-created eyes, but everyone has an opinion whether or not people like Kye Allums eventually transitions to physical manhood.

            • Debbie Thurman

              Jon, I believe the DSD diagnosis in the DSM (or proposed for V?) is meant to cover issues arising out of situations an intersex person may experience sometime later in life, such as feeling like the opposite sex of the one doctors/parents chose to assign at birth, not the physical condition itself. I’ve seen some APA discussion about it.

              Not sure your son’s vision problem compares with something on the order of GID. That’s a physical problem. We’d all agree functional eyesight is part of optimum physical health, even though people can function in the world with impaired eyesight or even blind. A person’s feeling that he or she is living in a body of the wrong sex (other than an intersex condition) is a case of mental or emotional distress, and not an actual physical impairment.

              We have to allow for physical and mental/emotional maladies in a fallen world. Which are correctable or ought to be is a matter for debate. I have been quite concerned, for example, that the mental health “system” has strongly medicalized depression as a brain disease when much of it is necessary life sorrow that can resolve itself with the right kind of support.

  • K

    Kye is not “a woman… who identifies as a transgender male.” Kye is a man.

    He is a man who is playing women’s basketball because his biology happens to align with theirs. You say you don’t want to offend anyone, but you misgender Kye throughout this post. The most basic level of respect one can show for a trans individual is to respect their self-identification.

    Even if Kye never takes hormones (which is none of our business) he is still a man. Even if he never has any surgery (which is also none of our business), he is still a man. Because gender isn’t about your body.

    I appreciate that you’ve read Whipping Girl. I’d suggest that you read Gender Outlaws by Kate Bornstein as well, and seek out other books on trans issues. As a genderqueer/gender non-conforming individual, I was hurt by this post, and it brought many of my fears about the Marin Foundation to reality.

    I genuinely believe you have only the best intentions. However, that’s always enough. I would respectfully ask that you educate yourself more on transgender topics and consider either editing this post to use accurate pronouns or giving an apology. Obviously, it’s your decision. However, as of this moment, I have lost a significant amount of respect for you, which saddens me deeply.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      K – I’m sorry you feel that way. That saddens me deeply. Unfortunately I feel you missed the point of the post. This was not a post to question how Kye identifies himself or requests others to identify him as well. It was a post about the broader cultural scenario that was brought up in this situation:

      the social construction of a population through identification vs. gender rules in major college/pro athletics.

      You took this post as an attack on how I identify trans people. That is not the case. You are right in the fact that Kye’s body isn’t about my body. But it is about Kye’s body and there is a difference between identification and sanctioned NCAA/pro rules on gender when it comes to athletic teams. That is the point of this post. Also, please again read the section where I talk homophobia in male college athletics and what must be going on behind the scenes.

      The fact is that I have a handful of trans friends, and only one of them has actually surgically transitioned. I see them all, and call them as well, the gender they see themselves as from the time they told me that is who they are.

      I also sent this post to a few of my trans friends before I posted it to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot…which you still think I did. I know I took the right steps before posting what I did. Each of my trans friends read the post for what it was – through the lens of asking questions surrounding this unique cultural scenario. I take loyalty very seriously, and if my trans friends gave me the ‘ok’ to post it, then I feel very comfortable with the post. If they hated it and thought I was bigoted when they read it, you better believe I would have changed it asap before I ever posted it. I would love to discuss this all more with you…

  • Noah

    Your use of the word biological is incredibly offensive, aside from all of the incorrect pronouns. The word biological means life or real. Trans men are every bit as alive and real as non-trans men. The word cis-gendered is really what you mean here. Cis is a root word meaning ‘on the same side as’ which contrasts directly with trans, which means ‘on the other side.’ A person who is trans has a gender that is ‘on the other side’ than what their sex might suggest. A person who is cis-gendered has a gender that is ‘on the same side’ as what their sex indicates.

    Similarly, you seem to be confused about the terms male/female and man/woman. While this individual is indeed female, he is also a man. Male and female are words that indicate sex. Man and woman refer to gender. Saying that a man is on a woman’s team is accurate. Neither is saying that a man is pregnant. It would be misleading to say that a male is playing on a woman’s team, but he is absolutely a man.

  • Noah

    * So is saying that a man is pregnant

  • jJoniJJ

    I wasn’t aware that a police officer is a “gender bending” job — it’s a job that women and men can do. And lesbian culture is very heavily invested in softball– and there are songs about falling in love with the gym teacher…. lesbians by our very nature are pioneers, but we were always looking for our tribe in a sea of heteronormative oppression. I’ve played hundreds of soft ball games— again, a lesbian is not forced into a “role” to please a man, a lesbian is completely free to explore anything, and we like challenges and achievement. We love the comaraderie of going out after a big game, celebrating. Think hetero women are uncomfortable on teams dominated by lesbians, try living in the whole wide world dominated by violent hetero men, and intolerant hetero women. Softball was a real refuge for me.
    Gender is about presentation… it is imposed on women, men are degraded for not “acting like a real man” The only issue I have is if the safety of biological women is being violated or compromised in any way. Or if services for battered biological women are compromised.
    We loved our lesbian police officers in San Francisco, had a whole gang to hang out with, had them protect our bars from harassing men… hey women in uniform protecting other women from male preditors. If I had a husband bashing in my brains, I would want lesbian officers coming to my house to help, not other men in the boys club. You know the wink wink… men hiting women, hey god ordained it…
    Again, gender is presentation. It is forced on women and men, whether it feels right or not, just as certain roles have always been forced on minorities throughout time. I think women in sports might be a bit more open minded anyway… male athletes were always a problem on our campus… rape charges, disorderly conduct, pushing and shoving in line… I don’t see male athletes as very open about anything, and very defensive about their “masculine Image” Hyper “masculine” men have real problems relating to a complex world.


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