Kye Allums, a college junior, is supposed to be breaking down barriers as the NCAA Division I’s first trans basketball player, identifying as a man and playing on a women’s team at George Washington University, where he’s a point guard. But what began as a phenomenally open trans awareness effort that had Kye speaking openly about his experience has, according to her mother’s Washington Post interview, come crashing down — with Kye all but silenced and barred from the court.
Rolanda Delamartinez said in a phone interview that Allums – who has missed all but eight games this season because of two concussions – has been prevented from playing, even though she says he no longer has any symptoms from the concussions. She said Allums was told he would have to run for two hours straight to be cleared. “I know professional athletes,” Delamartinez said. “None of them had ever heard of anything like that.”
[...] Delamartinez claims a team doctor cleared her son to play two weeks ago. After Allums told his mother he had been cleared to play, Delamartinez made plans to fly to Washington to be at the game. Later, she received a text from her son saying the decision had been reversed by the trainer. “To my knowledge, no team doctor has ever cleared him,” Kvancz said. “The only thing I had ever heard was the doctor did not want to clear him, and that the concussions are a very, very big thing. “I never even thought of saying that person is not going to play because that person has a different belief than I do. That’s crazy.”
GWU’s athletic officials, however, deny Kye is being shunned for any discriminatory reason.
GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz denied both accusations, saying the school’s first priority is to protect the health and eligibility of its student-athletes. [...] Kvancz said he was not aware of any two-hour running requirement and that Allums had not been able to complete satisfactorily a 20-minute run. “If he couldn’t get done the 20 minutes of running he had to do, it was going to take him another [several weeks] to get back in shape, why not pack it in [for the season]? And then try to get the young man ready to play when he was healthy,” Kvancz said. “Our concern is the health and well-being of the student.”
And then there’s the Oprah factor.
Delamartinez said her son wants to help other transgender athletes but school officials have refused to allow him to tell his story to reporters. According to Delamartinez, school officials told her and Allums not to speak to any reporters because the school had arranged to give an exclusive to Oprah Winfrey.
“Kye has conducted promotional activities, including numerous media interviews since November,” university spokeswoman Candace Smith said. “GW has offered Kye guidance and support on multiple fronts. At no time was the university involved in any discussion about compensation for any interview requests.” Kvancz said he had no knowledge of any agreement with Winfrey and that he told Allums to focus on academics and basketball during the season and to wait until after to do interviews and speaking engagements.
Can Allums juggle his school work, athletics, and trans advocacy? Of course. And while success on the court and in the classroom are certainly demanding tasks on their own, no university should be telling a student that his work in the community is somehow so trivial it can wait until after graduation. Rather, the perfect time for Kye to address his concerns, and talk about his experience playing college ball as a trans man, is when he’s in the thick of it. Don’t wait, Kye. We want to hear more.