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Transgender athlete to speak for ‘Coming Out Week’

First openly transgender NCAA athlete to share story

Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013

Updated: Sunday, October 6, 2013 22:10

Kye Allums

Courtesy

Kye Allums will speak Thursday as part of Coming Out Week.

As the keystone of the GLBT Resource Center’s celebration of Coming Out Week, Texas A&M will host speaker Kye Allums, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I athlete.

The event will be held in the auditorium of the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building on at 7 p.m. Thursday. Allums is a former student-athlete at George Washington University.

Allums, who played for the George Washington University basketball team, came out publicly in 2010. His address will focus on his journey and experiences, as well as how to be a better ally to transgender men and women.

“This event provides an opportunity to learn more about gender identity and how we can support transgender members of our community,” said Carolyn Sandoval, president of Aggie Allies. “Hearing peoples’ stories opens up the possibility for greater understanding and creates an opportunity for us to connect with each other and our collective humanity.”

Before the address, Allums will conduct a small workshop for those interested in becoming a better ally to transgender-identified students around campus. Space is limited to 40 people, a fact that Sidney Gardner, program coordinator for the GLBT Resource Center, said will create a hands-on learning environment for those in attendance.

“We really want it to be a really interactive experience for people,” Gardner said. “I think that particularly for this workshop, the focus is how to be a better ally to transgender people and so this particular workshop is meant for people who want to have that experience and broaden their understanding of what it means to be an ally.”

Allums’ address, as part of his “Transition Tour,” seeks to provide the larger Aggie community with the understanding of what it means to be transgender in higher education, as well as educate faculty and students about transgender identity issues. Gardner said Allums’ experience in these situations allows him a unique perspective into the trials of transgender students.

“I think people will gain some more understanding around some of the issues related to our transgender students trying to navigate the higher education environment, whether that be in the athletics realm or navigating a college environment in general,” Gardner said. “I think that can be a very powerful experience, hearing from someone who’s been through that firsthand, and also understands some of the broader pictures of what it means to be a transgender student on a college campus.”

While the Resource Center plans many events that focus on the LGBT Community, Allums’ event speaks on a topic not readily discussed around Texas A&M.

“We haven’t done a lot in the way of talking about the experiences of transgender-identified people on our campus, so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity, and in particular because he focuses so much of what he talks about around helping us understand what it means to be inclusive for our transgender students,” Gardner said.

Angela Ghazizadeh, junior political science major, said the main reason she is excited for Allums’ address is because she knows that he has a lot of wisdom to offer.

“I want to learn how to be a better trans-ally,” Ghazizadeh said. “I think it’s important that there is more visibility about transgender issues in the community.” 

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