First openly transgender NCAA Division I athlete Kye Allums to speak Nov. 8 in Annenberg Forum

Kye Allums, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I athlete, will speak about what it means to be transgender, as well as his experiences as the first openly transgender basketball player,  from 8-9:30 p.m.  on Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Annenberg Forum in Carswell Hall.

Paula Kohut (’83) , an attorney who represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clients in estate planning, estate administration and business matters, will also participate in the presentation along with Anthony Keys, president of the Wake Forest law school’s OUTLAW student organization.

Allums and Kohut’s visit is a Faces of Courage event, part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of integration at Wake Forest University. It is co-sponsored by the LGBTQ Center of Wake Forest University, OUTLaw, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Allums, born Kay-Kay Allums, was assigned the gender ‘female’ at birth. He graduated from Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minn., where he initially identified himself as a lesbian.

From Centennial, Allums went on to play college basketball  on the George Washington University women’s basketball team. In 2010, Allums made significant news when he revealed to his receptive coach and teammates that he identified himself as male. The announcement prompted the NCAA to reevaluate their protocol for handling transgender athletes, and eventually reach the decision to allow Allums to continue playing. Allums is the first transgender man to play on a NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball team.

“Hopefully I’ll be making a difference in the world in some way,” Allums said in an interview with The Advocate.

Since making history in the NCAA, Allums has received a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University. He remains a devoted advocate for transgender rights, and was listed in the Advocates 2011 40 under 40, The Grio’s 100 History Makers in the Making for Black History Month, and was one of OUT magazine’s OUT 100 for 2011.

“I think Kye’s openness about his gender identity was transformative for George Washington University, and for collegiate athletics as a whole, because he was a pioneer and because transgender student athletes hadn’t been on anyone’s radar before he came out,” said Melanie LeMay, LGBTQ Center program coordinator. “I think Kye’s trip to Wake Forest has the potential to have the same affect here, to start the conversation, to impact the climate, and to hasten the day when Wake Forest welcomes a transgender athlete.”

The LGBTQ Center welcomes students and faculty alike to this educational and inspirational event, which promises to open the dialogue about gender identity within all groups involved in campus life.

“We hope that students will not only learn about what it means to be transgender, and specifically what it means to be transgender in the contexts of college and athletics, but also that it will lead them to think critically about intersections of identity,” LeMay said. “We want this to be the beginning of a conversation about what it means to be a transgender college student or an LGBTQ athlete, and how we as a campus community can challenge the stigma surrounding these identities, and ultimately make Wake Forest a welcoming and inclusive environment across the board.”