Concussions mar season for GW transgender player

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.”

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.”

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 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.”