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Kye Allums Makes NCAA History
November 2, 2010 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Transgender Man Plays on Women's College Team. A guard for George Washington University's women's basketball team is a transgender man. Kye Allums, who was born female and has not undergone any hormone treatments, changed his name from Kay-Kay to Kye within the last year and was relieved not to lose his scholarship. "When people refer to me as 'girl' or 'she,' it doesn't sit well with me," Allums said. "That feeling you get when someone pisses you off, that feeling you get when your stomach gets hot and it aches, that's what it feels like. And that's how I know I'm not supposed to be a girl." On Nov. 13, he will be the first transgender person to compete in Division One college basketball, according to OutSports. Opposing fans used to taunt Allums about his masculine build, but it backfired. "I love it," he said. "It makes me feel better about myself to hear them call me a man."
posted by rcade (187 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good for him. :-) He's a brave guy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2010


Just trying to understand this -- if this person hasn't undergone surgery or hormone treatment, how is he transgender? Isn't he a transvestite? Or is a transvestite a subcategory of transgender?
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on November 2, 2010


Isn't he a transvestite? Or is a transvestite a subcategory of transgender?

You can be transgender and in the process of transitioning. Some TG folks decide not to undergo medical treatment and simply live as their chosen gender and manage to "pass" fairly well. (I've met lots of trans folk in various stages of the process and there's really a lot involved and it can take years to even get on hormone treatments, let alone get surgery.) In Kye's case, he might not qualify for basketball if he takes testosterone, so that might be influencing his decision.

A transvestite is something different entirely. A transvestite is someone who dresses as the opposite gender as an expression of sexuality - which isn't quite the same as feeling like your entire identity is counter to the sex you were assigned at birth. I suppose you could put transvestite in the "transgender" category, but it's more helpful to put it with the "alternative sexualities" rather than an identity that has to do more with, well, everyday identity.
posted by sonika at 8:37 AM on November 2, 2010 [18 favorites]


I don't understand. If he considers himself male, why would he want to play on the women's basketball team? Is it just a scholarship thing? Obviously, he should be allowed to, but there's some odd dichotomy going on in his mind-- that he's chromosomally XX, so he's allowed to, but he's still "getting away with something" as a man on the women's team.

That's phrased really poorly, but I just don't understand his motivation here. Sure, he's getting everyone to call him the correct pronouns, but he's hurting his case much more by playing for the women's basketball team.
posted by supercres at 8:37 AM on November 2, 2010 [18 favorites]


He actually identifies as a man. A trans-VEST-ite - vest like "vest" or "vestments" - would simply dress the part.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:37 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If he considers himself male, why would he want to play on the women's basketball team?

Locker room privileges?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:39 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


but he's hurting his case much more by playing for the women's basketball team.

What case? He doesn't have to do prove anything to anyone. He's free to choose his own gender identity, and even shift back and forth as he feels necessary. I think it really is only an issue if he's taking hormones, and that's only for reasons of fairness.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Locker room privileges?

Doubt it. Not all transmen are straight, just not like not all men are straight. Also: not the world's most sensitive statement, that one.
posted by sonika at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


supercres, he's biologically a female, so can't play on the men's team. Also, he is not trying to make his case by playing basketball; I imagine he does that for the same reason as anyone does it, because he loves to play.
posted by ericost at 8:42 AM on November 2, 2010


Yeah, I guess I'm confused here too. I'm very glad-VERY glad- to hear that he is being accepted for the person he wants to be treated as, but just on paper, I don't get the "making history" thing.... this person is biologically female and is playing on a women's team.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:44 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just trying to understand this -- if this person hasn't undergone surgery or hormone treatment, how is he transgender? Isn't he a transvestite? Or is a transvestite a subcategory of transgender?

The transvestite thing's been explained upthread, but I think you're also confusing 'transgender' with 'transsexual.'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:48 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I guess I'm confused here too. I'm very glad-VERY glad- to hear that he is being accepted for the person he wants to be treated as, but just on paper, I don't get the "making history" thing.... this person is biologically female and is playing on a women's team.

Yeah, I guess that was really my question in my first comment. If Dennis Rodman had started asking people to call him Denise, would that have been making history as a Transgender person? I dunno. I mean, probably not any more so than someone who is openly gay playing in the NBA. AFAIK, there are already lots of openly gay women basketball players, which was probably the more difficult barrier to break. This just doesn't seem to me to be that big a deal. It's a pronoun change. Nothing substantively new happened here.

To me, making history would be someone who had an actual biological change continuing to play as either gender.
posted by empath at 8:50 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not all transmen are straight, just not like not all men are straight.

If the percentages are similar, a large majority of transmen are heterosexual.

In high school, he identified as a lesbian. Which is to say: someone sexually attracted to women.

In none of the linked articles did I see any mention of him as homosexual or asexual.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:52 AM on November 2, 2010


... on paper, I don't get the "making history" thing.... this person is biologically female and is playing on a women's team.

He's making history because biology isn't everything. The fact that he identifies as a man and has been accepted as such, despite playing under scholarship on a women's team, is yet another sign that gender isn't binary and we should find more ways to accept people who are outside the norm.

Because he was born female and has not undergone hormone treatments, there's nothing inequitable about him continuing to play on a women's team.
posted by rcade at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm absolutely not saying he shouldn't be allowed to play on the team. And "hurting his case" was putting it badly; my apologies. I guess it's the "shifting back and forth as necessary", as empath put it (hey; epony-appropriate), that I had a harder time wrapping my head around.

And if this is what he needs to do to play D1 basketball like he wants, sure. I get that. I just find it odd that the NYT story focuses on things like male pronouns rather than the fact that it's the women's basketball team. I would've expected that to at least be mentioned, and some quote from Allums about identifying as female on paper to the NCAA (to be allowed to play) but as male in every other aspect of his life. Does he not get "that feeling you get when your stomach gets hot and it aches" to see his name on the women's roster? I'm not saying it's not fair, or that he's cheating, or that he should be conflicted; I'm genuinely just curious.

Also, what is/would be the trans community's reaction to this?
posted by supercres at 8:56 AM on November 2, 2010


sonika: "Doubt it. Not all transmen are straight, just not like not all men are straight. Also: not the world's most sensitive statement, that one."

Maybe I'm being too giving today, but I read Joe's statement more as "He has the biological body of a female, and so changing in a male locker room would likely be uncomfortable for most of the people involved."
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:57 AM on November 2, 2010


In high school, he identified as a lesbian. Which is to say: someone sexually attracted to women.

Unless he says that, I don't think you can assume it. He could have identified as a lesbian for other reasons, such as feeling like an outcast among more traditionally feminine girls.
posted by rcade at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm proud, but not surprised that Kye plays for GW. My husband and I are both alums and were happy to attend a school full of cool, interesting people.

So, Go Kye! I think I'm going to make sure to get basketball tickets this year and wave a flag and cheer.
posted by Alison at 9:07 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the percentages are similar, a large majority of transmen are heterosexual.

In high school, he identified as a lesbian. Which is to say: someone sexually attracted to women.

In none of the linked articles did I see any mention of him as homosexual or asexual.


I know all the words. It's the sentences that confound me.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


For the record: Just as I would not approve of separate showers for gays in the military, I believe he should use the same facilities as his teammates - whether or not he experiences any sexual attraction towards them.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good for him. And for all folks who for whatever reason and to whatever degree were not born to know the physical and mental gender congruity most people have the luxury of taking utterly for granted.
posted by applemeat at 9:13 AM on November 2, 2010


I think it's a great story given that the usual news about transgender people are about them as targets of violence and discrimination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:14 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't understand. If he considers himself male, why would he want to play on the women's basketball team? Is it just a scholarship thing? Obviously, he should be allowed to, but there's some odd dichotomy going on in his mind-- that he's chromosomally XX, so he's allowed to, but he's still "getting away with something" as a man on the women's team.

That's an interesting point. I'd be willing to speculate, though, that a) he probably wouldn't be allowed to play on the men's team, and b) he has likely played on women's and girls' teams his whole life anyhow.

...he's hurting his case much more by playing for the women's basketball team.

There's not any "case" to be made, really. If we were talking about M-F on a women's team, or F-M on a men's team, or someone receiving hormone injections on any team, there would no doubt be some ruffled feathers in need of smoothing down; this particular scenario, however, is entirely uncontroversial--which is actually pretty awesome.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 AM on November 2, 2010


As sports is about competition, Allums is dodging the issue without competing against men on men’s teams.
posted by joeclark at 9:18 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brave man, I like how simply he talks about his life.

The discussion here so far is hysterical. Turns out people don't fall into two simple gender buckets. It can be a bit confusing, but that's OK, just go with it.
posted by Nelson at 9:21 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe he should use the same facilities as his teammates - whether or not he experiences any sexual attraction towards them.

The sexual attraction thing is and has been a red herring anyhow because there have always been gay and straight teammates of the same gender showering together. This is an interesting story, thanks for posting it.
posted by jessamyn at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Allums is dodging the issue without competing against men on men’s teams

I've got a friend on the flipside -- and she wanted to compete as a woman in female events but her peers in racing complained to the sanctioning body that she was beating them all because "she was a man" and the ruling organization did force her to continue competing in the male classes.

I'm happy to see the team, college, and players appear supportive in this case, even if it's not the ideal.
posted by mathowie at 9:25 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


As sports is about competition, Allums is dodging the issue without competing against men on men’s teams.

From the last link:

... Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

That he is eligible to play on the woman's team is, according to him, a clerical error of biology. He is exploiting that error to obtain a scholarship he would otherwise not have. And in so doing is, I assume, denying that scholarship to a female athlete for whom it was intended.

So maybe the blow for equality here is showing that TG people cut ethical corners just like everyone else.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


And in so doing is, I assume, denying that scholarship to a female athlete for whom it was intended.

It seems to me that the issue is, if anything, that sports programs are designed around a binary gender paradigm that does not square with reality, and there's no way to win if you don't fit in one of the two predesigned buckets-- you'll be blamed for something.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:29 AM on November 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


He is exploiting that error to obtain a scholarship he would otherwise not have.

Maybe, maybe not. My first impulse is that if he wants to identify as male, he should try out for the men's team. He may be good enough to win a scholarship there. Wouldn't that be the consistent stance? I recognize that there would be "political" problems with that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:33 AM on November 2, 2010


That he is eligible to play on the woman's team is, according to him, a clerical error of biology. He is exploiting that error to obtain a scholarship he would otherwise not have. And in so doing is, I assume, denying that scholarship to a female athlete for whom it was intended.

He's a biological female. That's the only classification that matters for the purposes of college sports.
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is just one more step down the road to my fantasy world, where the only time any of this registers as more than a blip is the momentary disappointment one might feel upon realizing that a crush probably won't crush on one back, oh well, but otherwise life goes on.
posted by padraigin at 9:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the issue is, if anything, that sports programs are designed around a binary gender paradigm that does not square with reality...

I don't see any way of avoiding that binariness without eliminating female sports teams altogether - which I think would be worse on the whole.

Ideally, he would be given a scholarship for the men's team. Super-ideally, he wouldn't have to be a skilled basketball player to get a higher education.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:37 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm being too giving today, but I read Joe's statement more as "He has the biological body of a female, and so changing in a male locker room would likely be uncomfortable for most of the people involved."

That is a more charitable reading than my own, which when I hear "locker room" and "privileges" think "He wants to see nekkid ladiez!" Perhaps you're right.

Unless he says that, I don't think you can assume it. He could have identified as a lesbian for other reasons, such as feeling like an outcast among more traditionally feminine girls.

Many, many transmen that I know identified as lesbians pre-transition. Most, actually. Most of the reason for this is that it was a step on their path towards realizing why they felt "different." Being a lesbian is a visible alternative to being "traditionally" female. It's after being a lesbian doesn't "solve" the problem that transmen often realize that it's their gender and not their sexuality that's different.

After that? In my experience, almost all of the transmen that I've known have continued to identify as gay. Which is to say, they're attracted to men. This isn't to say it always happens, but I know quite a few transmen in my personal life - all of whom were lesbians before transitioning, all of whom (save for one, who identifies as straight) identify as gay afterwards. So that's... of a personal sample of say, 10 transmen, I know one who is "straight." This may or may not have any relevance to the outside world, other than showing that your sexuality may change over time, especially as you grow into your gender identity.

Being a lesbian pre-transition says nothing about his sexuality right now. The only way to know that is to ask him.

He is exploiting that error to obtain a scholarship he would otherwise not have. And in so doing is, I assume, denying that scholarship to a female athlete for whom it was intended.

He is the athlete for whom that scholarship was intended. He can't play on the men's team. He's not exploiting anyone. It would only be exploitation if he was accepted onto the men's team and chose not to play for them. That's not the case.
posted by sonika at 9:37 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the issue is, if anything, that sports programs are designed around a binary gender paradigm that does not square with reality

The binary gender paradigm absolutely squares with reality, in terms of sports. Look at numbers for any sport, especially track. There is an enormous performance gap between the sexes.

Please do not confuse the ethics and sociopolitical aspects of gender in our society with physical performance. Even though it'd be really cool if everything were truly equal, it sadly isn't.

If we took down the binary aspect of sports, then it would have one and only one effect: "females" would, by necessity, not ever be seen competing in nearly all sporting events.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:38 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Issues like this can be confusing but it's nice to see people try to be compassionate when addressing them.
posted by nola at 9:39 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


He is exploiting that error to obtain a scholarship he would otherwise not have. And in so doing is, I assume, denying that scholarship to a female athlete for whom it was intended.

Because he was born female and has not undergone hormone treatments, he has no competitive advantage over women. To suggest that it is unfair for him to play on a women's sport, simply because has come out as transgender, would exclude people like him from sports.

It would not be a level playing field for him to compete in men's sports. The net result of your logic is that transgender athletes who were born female would not be able to play sports in college, because they're not physically on par with men.
posted by rcade at 9:47 AM on November 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


He is the athlete for whom that scholarship was intended. He can't play on the men's team. He's not exploiting anyone.

I think the concern is that if he's a man or maybe identifies as one, he should be with the mens team. As a man, scholarship that he's using for womens basketball is not going to a woman. If that's allowed, then MtoF should also be allowed on the women's teams. Which brings in the performance issues Threeway mentions above.

I think there were earlier Mefi posts about this, one on marathons having issues with men running as/against women to improve their scores. I don't know if it's much of an issue now, but as acceptance grows I'd be interested to hear what sports orgs are doing to allow these transitions and still maintain parity between the biological sexes.
posted by anti social order at 10:03 AM on November 2, 2010


Kye sounds like a girl's name. If he was born female, then he can play on the women's team.
posted by anniecat at 10:08 AM on November 2, 2010


or if he can keep up, he can play on the men's team.
posted by anniecat at 10:10 AM on November 2, 2010


No hormone treatment, no competitive advantage. The rest of it is about comfort level or transphobia, depending on your point of view.

This story goes away until GWU challenges Connecticut. If GWU makes the Women's Final Four, the hate will come out in force.
posted by andreaazure at 10:12 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would not be a level playing field for him to compete in men's sports. The net result of your logic is that transgender athletes who were born female would not be able to play sports in college, because they're not physically on par with men.

I was not able to play sports in college, because I was not physically on par with the male athletes. It happens.

This young man obviously has unusual courage. But he's trying to have it both ways. I respect his wish to be known by the contents of his heart, rather than the contents of his underwear. But he can not reasonably ask us to stop thinking of him as a woman if he chooses to play for a women's sports team.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:12 AM on November 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


In fact, so long as he's not going for a men's scholarship at the same time as a women's scholarship, who cares? He was born a woman, after all.
posted by anniecat at 10:12 AM on November 2, 2010


BTW: I should probably mention here that MetaFilter is sponsoring probably the only transgender cyclist competing in world cup events, starting later next month.
posted by mathowie at 10:15 AM on November 2, 2010 [34 favorites]


But he can not reasonably ask us to stop thinking of him as a woman if he chooses to play for a women's sports team.

I would completely agree with you if this were his choice. However, what he's choosing to do is play basketball and he's not currently allowed to play on the men's team.

So, yes, if he made a choice to specifically play for a women's team in the sense that he was picking them over the men's team, yes. That is a conflict of interest. As is, dude just wants to play basketball and this is the way he's allowed to do so.
posted by sonika at 10:15 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


But he can not reasonably ask us to stop thinking of him as a woman if he chooses to play for a women's sports team.

I haven't been entirely sure where Joe Beese is coming from in this thread, but I think this is an interesting point to consider.

I think he can't play on the men's team because, like the vast majority of dudes on campus, he isn't nearly good enough to play on the men's team.
posted by found missing at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2010


I should probably mention here that MetaFilter is sponsoring probably the only transgender cyclist competing in world cup events, starting later next month.

Hey that's neat. Any place where we can follow their progress, send words of encouragement?
posted by jessamyn at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we took down the binary aspect of sports, then it would have one and only one effect: "females" would, by necessity, not ever be seen competing in nearly all sporting events.

I don't think I suggested doing anything of the sort, only that the current two-bucket system clearly doesn't make any sense, as cases like this illustrate.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's nice that people are using the pronouns and the new first name that he has requested. And it's also nice that the university and the NCAA apparently recognize that, regardless of what name Kye wants to go by and what pronouns he prefers people use when talking about him, he is a woman for every purpose relevant to collegiate athletics.

And what's revolutionary and inspiring, it seems to me, is that a woman who insists on being referred to as male all the time and treated as a man in limited circumstances is not being physically assaulted or institutionally blacklisted because of it.
posted by The World Famous at 10:20 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've had the unique fortune to often have bosses who are open minded and really admirable and to work for really progressive agencies. A couple years ago my workplace at the time conducted a gender/sexual minorities diversity training with outside trainers. They talked about pronouns and various vocabulary for the spectrums of gender and sexuality and facilitated some Q and A. I was really impressed because I learned quite a bit and I even learned a word for where I fit on that spectrum as a cisgendered ally. Cool! I was telling my boss at the time, who I dearly admired, about this impression.

"Hm. That's really strange. It must be a generational thing. I was talking to the other managers and we thought the training was unnecessary and, honestly, a bit insulting."

(I was aghast!) "Why do you say that?"

"My generation... We were taught to always have respect for everyone. We were taught that you respect others by calling them what they want to be called. What they call themselves."

"Ohhhhhh. That's much easier!"

I think about that conversation whenever I feel like I might question how someone expresses their identity. The Platinum Rule solves a lot of confusion.
posted by Skwirl at 10:24 AM on November 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Any place where we can follow their progress, send words of encouragement?

Yeah, hopefully soon.
posted by mathowie at 10:28 AM on November 2, 2010


... what he's choosing to do is play basketball and he's not currently allowed to play on the men's team.

From the links, I see that he's eligible to play as a woman. And I see that he has not been offered a scholarship as a man. But I did not see that either the NCAA or the school is prohibiting him from playing as a man.

If I overlooked that, I concede your point.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:32 AM on November 2, 2010


I don't think I suggested doing anything of the sort, only that the current two-bucket system clearly doesn't make any sense, as cases like this illustrate.

How does it not make any sense? He was born a female, and, apart from his higher-level gender identity, is still, as a matter of physical sport, possessing a female body. That he gets to play on a female team makes perfect sense for sporting reasons. The triumph of this story is that they are letting him do this, rather than throwing him off and making him an outsider.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is an enormous performance gap between the sexes.

Yes, but the gap between individuals is even higher. Shouldn't we just have as many teams and leagues as it takes to allow everyone who wants to compete to do so? Just group people by ability and skill, not by . Have individuals compete to be on the team they want to be on, just like we do within gender. Isn't this the most gender neutral way to go?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but based on the gender binary and the traditional way in which things work, if he's eligible to play for the women's team, he is by definition not eligible to play for the men's team. That's my understanding of the gender divide in sports and why trans athletes do often end up on the "wrong" team. I'm looking for citations on this, but not finding any that spell it out as such.

Allums has said that he'll have to quit in April 2012 when he starts testosterone therapy, which will make him ineligible for the women's team, but the implication is that he wouldn't simply be able to transfer to the men's team.
posted by sonika at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2010


When are we going to integrate our sports teams? Seriously, if not for the "men's" and "women's" split, this would not be an issue. Let's just have "teams."
posted by Eideteker at 10:41 AM on November 2, 2010


Really?
posted by found missing at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2010


Allums is not even wearing a different uniform from the other players on the team.
posted by w0mbat at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2010


You know, there are plenty of sports that include handicap systems and classes to accommodate differences in body mass and strength.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And what's revolutionary and inspiring, it seems to me, is that a woman who insists on being referred to as male all the time and treated as a man in limited circumstances is not being physically assaulted or institutionally blacklisted because of it.

How long will that last, now that the story has gone public? Baylor women's basketball player Brittney Griner was subjected to vile verbal attacks all last season...because she's 6'8"and slim...and can dunk.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:45 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does it not make any sense?

Because he identifies as a man, but is playing on a women's team. He is the only man who does this, and that has got to be frustrating. Because if he get sexual reassignment surgery, that will affect whether they allow him to continue to play on the women's team. Because at some point it comes down to examining someone's chromosomes in order to determine which sports they can play.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on November 2, 2010


. Because if he get sexual reassignment surgery, that will affect whether they allow him to continue to play on the women's team.

Interestingly, he's addressed this. He's said that the surgery doesn't affect his standing, but the hormones do. They don't care about the appearance of his genitals, but about the affect of testosterone on performance. (He talks about this in the 2nd link.)
posted by sonika at 10:54 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, there are plenty of sports that include handicap systems and classes to accommodate differences in body mass and strength.

Which team sports do this? Which team sports are even able to do this?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:57 AM on November 2, 2010


But he can not reasonably ask us to stop thinking of him as a woman if he chooses to play for a women's sports team.

His teammates, coach and school think of him as a man. The NCAA has no problem with him competing. I don't see why it is unreasonable for anyone else to adjust their thinking on the issue.
posted by rcade at 11:06 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


His teammates, coach and school think of him as a man.

In a way, and yet if a random man tried to join the team how open would they be to that? What does it therefore mean to "think of him as a man"?
posted by found missing at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


he's not currently allowed to play on the men's team.

I can't find anything in the NCAA basketball rules that prohibits this, actually. They just seem to reflect the realities of the way the game is played, and the slightly different concerns/practices of different genders (eg 'guard distance' is defined 6 feet for men, 3 feet for women). So there's nothing preventing a group of women playing men's basketball or a group of men playing women's basketball, as such.

The NCAA doesn't actually have any firm rules on this; up until now the policy has been to go along with whatever gender the athlete uses on their driving license. New recommendations may lead to a rule that athletes taking hormone treatments and wanting to compete on teams of the opposite biological gender should have been on their medication for at least 1 year (presumably to avoid exploitation of hormone treatments for performance boosting or substitution shenanigans). Also, while FtoM athletes who are not taking hormones would be allowed to compete on men's teams, MtoF athletes not taking hormones would not be allowed to do so - again, presumably to recognize natural gender disparities which give men an athletic advantage.

Most likely Kye wouldn't be physically competitive with male basketball players. So s/he is playing women's basketball instead. I am cool with this; my pronoun selection reflects the reality of having one biological gender and choosing to identify as the other one. It will be interesting, though, to see what happens if a biological male who's simply smaller than the average wants to play women's basketball, where he'll be competitive but not necessarily have any other advantage. A lawsuit seems inevitable if the NCAA adopts the rules as described above, so it's possible they may postpone any formal rulemaking instead.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


His teammates, coach and school think of him as a man. The NCAA has no problem with him competing. I don't see why it is unreasonable for anyone else to adjust their thinking on the issue.

If we are to have women's athletic teams - and I hope we are - they must exclude men from competition.

And to accept the NCAA's definition of "man" in preference to Allum's it to negate the step towards transgender equality that this post intends us to celebrate.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:15 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


*is to negate
posted by Joe Beese at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2010


"We were taught that you respect others by calling them what they want to be called. What they call themselves."

A pretty good rule, but it doesn't always work. Some cisgendered people, for example, object to being called cisgendered instead of being called normal or regular, to the extent they acknowledge the need for a word to define being not-transgendered at all. That's obviously problematic because it sets up cisgendered as the (normative) standard from which transgender (again, normatively) deviates. This is a good discussion of a recent incident.

People might also legitimately object to what one calls oneself. I am "culturally Catholic," because of my upbringing and education, though I am an atheist. Some people in my position continue to identify as Catholic, much to the anger and frustration of practicing Catholics. I can understand why such identification occurs, but I think the practicing Catholics are right to object. To take a similar case, Irish citizens might legitimately object to me identifying as "Irish" on the basis of a negligible genetic link alone.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


And to accept the NCAA's definition of "man" in preference to Allum's it to negate the step towards transgender equality that this post intends us to celebrate.

Unless I'm missing something, Allum's definition of "man" appears to be exactly the same as the NCAA's definition, as evidenced by the fact that he is continuing to play for the women's team and that the NCAA has no problem with him being called "him."
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on November 2, 2010


If we are to have women's athletic teams - and I hope we are - they must exclude men from competition.

Why must they exclude a transgender man who has no physical advantage over women because he was born female? Be specific. Don't just float vague portents of doom.
posted by rcade at 11:23 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


When are we going to integrate our sports teams? Seriously, if not for the "men's" and "women's" split, this would not be an issue. Let's just have "teams."

But the main reason that we have such strong collegiate sports programs for women in the first place is due to Title IX, which basically created the need for major women's basketball teams with facilities and services on par with the men's teams. Without teams specifically for women, the opportunities for women would be drastically reduced. The truth is that, for a variety of reasons, women at a collegiate level for a sport like basketball are not going to be able to compete with men at the same level. In fact many of the best women's basketball programs use male students who are not good enough to be on the men's team as practice players, because they are significantly better players than women who are not good enough to be on the women's team.

There are biological reasons why men tend to be better at sports like basketball, just like there are biological reasons why a 25-year-old tends to be better than a 50-year-old. So, just like there are teams for certain age ranges to help promote competitive play between those who could not compete on a general team, there are valid reasons for having sports teams segregated by gender. Now you could argue that basketball could benefit from required gender integration, in the same way that tennis benefits from having mixed doubles matches, but a gender-open team based entirely on merit will basically be a men's team.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Allum's definition of "man" appears to be exactly the same as the NCAA's definition

From the first link:

George Washington officials have said that the N.C.A.A. told them that Allums was eligible for the women’s team because he had not undergone hormone treatments.

Allums is saying his biology does not make him female. The NCAA disagrees.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2010


Sorry, but the arbitrary separation on people into "genders" for purposes of classification during sporting matches is ridiculous. It's a shame that most profressional sports are limited to certain individuals based on an accident of birth.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2010


I don't really understand people's confusion in this case, since she's biologically female it all really boils down to the use of a pronoun. Pronouns don't change your athletic performance, and while it might cause confusion for people not familiar with Kye, her inclusion on the team isn't otherwise particularly controversial.

Females have typically only fought to play on men's teams when there is literally no female team for that sport. Like the girl in my high school who successfully got on the JV football team.

Food for thought: Renee Richards.

Not college-level competition, and MTF instead of FTM, but interesting to see the history of these situations, and the various ways they play out.
posted by hermitosis at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there any evidence that anyone can find that indicates that (if he could pass the try-outs) that Kye could compete on the men's team? Because I'm not finding any and I'm looking.
posted by sonika at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2010


Allums is saying his biology does not make him female. The NCAA disagrees.

Allums' position is that he is a woman for the purposes of collegiate athletics. He is saying that his biology qualifies him to play on the women's team. The NCAA agrees. Allums' position is also that he is a man for the purposes of pronouns. The NCAA seems to be ok with that, as well. I don't see any meaningful disagreement here.
posted by The World Famous at 11:35 AM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Allums is saying his biology does not make him female. The NCAA disagrees.

From the article: "He noted that he was biologically identical to any other female"

I'm not sure where you're getting your statements from. Allums is saying that he should be and is transitioning to being a man. The transition period is difficult because you have to actually live as the sex you are transitioning to without actually being that sex from a hormone/genital perspective. Pre-hormones, Allums is female, is transitioning to male, is living as male, is playing for a women's team, is ineligible for the male team. This is not terribly confusing and it's been sort of great that most people seem to have been able to get their heads around this issue without playing rules lawyers about a situation that is surely not terribly easy for many of the people involved. Cheers to Allums for being able to talk about it with empathy for the whole situation.
posted by jessamyn at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [10 favorites]


The hormone testosterone in the human body produces certain physiological effects including: "growth of muscle mass and strength, increased bone density and strength, and stimulation of linear growth and bone maturation."

Human beings who as adults have, or during adolescence had, certain glands which produce large amounts of testosterone in their body, have a significant advantage in most sports.

So that non-possessors of these glands can also participate competitively in sports, it seems to me reasonable to divide sports into two divisions, for possessors and non-possessors of these glands.

As Kye Allums has never possessed these glands, and has not undergone any testosterone (hormone) treatments, it seems reasonable to compete alongside other non-possessors.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, but the arbitrary separation on people into "genders" for purposes of classification during sporting matches is ridiculous.

Do you also object to leagues segregated by age? There's a long history of leagues that are exclusionary in some form because that's the only way to achieve competitive balance. My kids played basketball in a league for 6-8 year olds. Pro golfers above 50 have their own league too. I fail to see the harm in that.

... while it might cause confusion for people not familiar with Kye, her inclusion on the team isn't otherwise particularly controversial.

Is there a reason you're refusing to call him a him?
posted by rcade at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2010


It's interesting to me to compare this case to the fuss about Caster Semenya, who identifies as female but has had her gender tested and questioned because of her performance, and who was barred from competing in women's events earlier this year because the IAAF hadn't released her results yet.

The NCAA is handling this a lot better than the international track world has handled Semenya.
posted by immlass at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, there are plenty of sports that include handicap systems and classes to accommodate differences in body mass and strength.

There are. And basketball is not one of them. Neither are most team sports - by which I mean sports which are played by two groups of people competing against each other, all at the same time on the same field. So, equestrian events are team sports - and they are integrated - but not in the way that basketball or football (either one) or ice hockey are.
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2010


[[Allums is saying his biology does not make him female.]]

I'm not sure where you're getting your statements from.


From Allums.

When people refer to me as ‘girl’ or ‘she,’ it doesn’t sit well with me... That feeling you get when someone pisses you off, that feeling you get when your stomach gets hot and it aches, that’s what it feels like. And that’s how I know I’m not supposed to be a girl.

Spoken with his current, pre-treatment biology.

And could you clarify whether you're calling me a "rules lawyer" as a mod or as a commenter? Because it makes a big difference as to the kind of reply I can make.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marty Max, the problem with your argument is that it's objectively true that most people people identify with their biological sex; "cisgendered" is a neologism invented by transgendered people and of use to no-one except transgendered people, designed to de-normalize what the overwhelming portion of humanity accepts as normal. Since "normal" is, in fact, determined emergently, loudly declaring that the majority stop considering itself normal and further demanding that the majority apply a term to itself that most of them simply don't care about and have no interest in embracing is silly (at best) and counter-productive (at worst).

I guess I think it's more effective to encourage the majority to accept and embrace our differences than to try to pull the world out from under everyone's feet and establish a free-floating world where normalcy simply doesn't exist.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some complicating factors:

The first is that he came out of the closet and started transition midway though his sophomore year. So he's been playing women's ball for 2 years at the collegiate level and likely 4 years at the High School level.

And of course, not all transgender people are binary-identified and there's a fair amount of criticism around assumptions that a transgendered person is going to stereotypically be masculine/feminine across all parts of their life.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:50 AM on November 2, 2010


..."cisgendered" is a neologism invented by transgendered people and of use to no-one except transgendered people, designed to de-normalize what the overwhelming portion of humanity accepts as normal.

With respect, 1adam12, please do not presume to speak for us who are cisgender, who find cisgender a supremely useful term, and who take exception to framing discussions of gender identity in normative terms.
posted by bakerina at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


I guess I think it's more effective to encourage the majority to accept and embrace our differences than to try to pull the world out from under everyone's feet and establish a free-floating world where normalcy simply doesn't exist.

I don't know about this. There's been fairly wide acceptance of 'heterosexual' or 'straight' when people in that majority refer to themselves, why should 'cisgender' be any different?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2010


"...for those of us who are cisgender..." Godwallopingdammit.
posted by bakerina at 12:09 PM on November 2, 2010


There's been fairly wide acceptance of 'heterosexual' or 'straight' when people in that majority refer to themselves, why should 'cisgender' be any different?

While I am not an authority on the etymology of the term, "straight" has always seemed like a fairly normative term to me.
posted by The World Famous at 12:13 PM on November 2, 2010


While I am not an authority on the etymology of the term, "straight" has always seemed like a fairly normative term to me.

Good point. It is at least a word, though, which serves to decentralize heterosexuality to some degree. I agree that another term would be better, but it's still better than no term at all, which is what the protests against 'cisgender' seem to have in mind.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2010


Some cisgendered people, for example, object to being called cisgendered instead of being called normal or regular

I object because cisgendered is a horrible neologism. cis- is the opposite of trans- in Latin, but doesn't have any established use as a prefix. Regendered seems more appropriate; you can translate something to another language, or relate it to someone in your native language; transform one thing into something different, or reform it to its original condition; things that are similar resemble each other, and so on. Or you could say simply gendered, based on simplex meaning 'unchanging.' I personally think this is the more elegant phrasing, in that it's linguistically accurate and uncontroversial.

to the extent they acknowledge the need for a word to define being not-transgendered at all. That's obviously problematic because it sets up cisgendered as the (normative) standard from which transgender (again, normatively) deviates.

But cis- does that anyway, seeing as it means 'on this side of,' thus implying that the speaker and listener are on the same side of a gender line, itself a complicated notion since males and females would both be cisgendered with regard to a transgender person. 'Mutagendered' might be more useful than transgendered, since it implies change rather than implying gender separation because we're stuck with it, but as with cis- nobody uses it that way so it's not worth the effort to change it.

As for the issue of there being a normative standard, I fail to see why that's problematic. Gender differentiation is the norm, and to pretend otherwise is to be in denial. I have no problem with deviation from that; just because something is unusual doesn't mean it's bad. Deviation can be unusually good, as with a work of genius or championship-level athleticism.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And could you clarify whether you're calling me a "rules lawyer" as a mod or as a commenter?

I'm not calling you personally a rules lawyer at all. People get overinvested in issues of other people's genders, sexualities and sexual preferences and get really weird about it by splitting hairs in all sorts of weird ways. Everyone turns into a rules lawyer. Allums has said that he is aware that he is biologically female but that doesn't sit right with him and so he is progressing through treatment options. This is not a confusing state of affairs for anyone familiar with the process of dealing with transgender issues. It's partway along a path, and unfortunately one that takes a while and has some confusing in-betweenish parts that people get rules lawyerly about
posted by jessamyn at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you also object to leagues segregated by age? There's a long history of leagues that are exclusionary in some form because that's the only way to achieve competitive balance. My kids played basketball in a league for 6-8 year olds. Pro golfers above 50 have their own league too. I fail to see the harm in that.

I've been against age discrimination ever since I called the ACLU after not being allowed into a toy store without an adult at the age of 13.

If you don't think age discrimination is a problem what about all the people over 50 who can't find a job because they are too old. Or all the people that get pushed into an early retirement.

That is all besides the point, we are discussing discrimination based on a set of genetic and physical differences.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:28 PM on November 2, 2010


How dare the PGA Champions Tour not allow players under 50. It is age discrimination, I tell you. This is why people over 50 can't find a job.
posted by found missing at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2010


If you don't think age discrimination is a problem ...

What the hell? Being OK with restricting a T-ball league to 6-year-olds means I'm OK with firing dad from his job when he turns 50?

I have been away from this place for too long.
posted by rcade at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


That is all besides the point, we are discussing discrimination based on a set of genetic and physical differences.

I think the problem is that merely railing against discrimination in sports on the basis of "genetic and physical differences" is too broad a gripe to be taken seriously. Genetic and physical differences - not limited in any way to sex - are a huge part of athletic competition. If athletic competition is to exist, it will inevitably select people based in large part on genetic and physical differences, in addition to other factors.
posted by The World Famous at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2010


I think it's useful to think about sex (a person's biology) and gender (a person's social identity) as separate. The distinction being that sex is physical and gender is socially constructed. So someone could have a penis and identify as a woman. Many people in that situation choose to have surgery to align their biology with their identity but that isn't everyone's choice and it shouldn't be the only choice that is considered valid. (Also there are issues with access to funding and medical care, so it's not an option that is available to everyone.)

At the same time, I think that sex itself is also a social construction, and that it's a lot murkier and more diverse than simply male and female. For example, Anne Fausto-Sterling, a Biology Professor at Brown University, has stated that "biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes-- and perhaps even more."
posted by overglow at 12:37 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since "normal" is, in fact, determined emergently, loudly declaring that the majority stop considering itself normal and further demanding that the majority apply a term to itself that most of them simply don't care about and have no interest in embracing is silly (at best) and counter-productive (at worst).

Yuck. No. In terms of statistics, yes, normal refers to that which is most common and usual. In its statistically normal usage, however, normal is used as a synonym for correct, proper, natural, etc., with the tacit suggestion that abnormal is synonymous with incorrect, improper, unnatural, etc. This is problematic if one wishes to maintain neutrality.

If one stubbornly insists on using generic statistical language, perhaps ordinary and extraordinary would be a suitable alternative.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:37 PM on November 2, 2010


But cis- does that anyway, seeing as it means 'on this side of,' thus implying that the speaker and listener are on the same side of a gender line, itself a complicated notion since males and females would both be cisgendered with regard to a transgender person.

See, I don't read "cis-" that way -- that is, reflecting the gender line between the speaker and the listener. My understanding is "cis-" and "trans-" reflect the line between a person's assigned sex at birth (based on a doctor's assessment of genitalia) and that same person's gender identity. Those of us whose gender identity is on the same side of the line as our assigned sex are cisgender. Those of us whose gender identity is on the other side of the line from our assigned sex are transgender. (This is something of a glib condensation of what being transgender means, but I'm pressed for time right now, and can't expand the discussion as much as I'd like.) But as far as I know, I've never heard cisgender or transgender used to describe people's relationships with each other, but rather the relationship within one single person's body and mind.
posted by bakerina at 12:39 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If one stubbornly insists on using generic statistical language, perhaps ordinary and extraordinary would be a suitable alternative.

This is a fantastic idea.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2010


(This is something of a glib condensation of what being transgender means, but I'm pressed for time right now, and can't expand the discussion as much as I'd like.)

Once again I hit the "send" button too soon. I should add that this statement was a little presumptuous on my part. I'm cis, so any understanding I have of "what transgender means" is fractional compared to that which trans people have. I mention this because historically, in medicine, in psychology and in law, trans peoples' lived experience was largely denigrated in favor of cis doctors' perceptions of trans people, and those perceptions often reflected the doctors' own biases, particularly regarding stereotypically male/female normative behavior.
posted by bakerina at 12:46 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to sort out my thoughts on this. Sports are a purely physical activity - there's nothing about the goals or the skills that are inherently "male" or "female," "junior athlete" or "senior athlete." Bodies that are born with a male musculature will perform differently from bodies of a female musculature, right? (No, not better or worse, just different). Bodies that are fifteen years old have different capabilities and endurance levels than bodies that are fifty.

So, we commonly divide sporting pursuits by strictly biological categories, because basic performance similarities make for balanced competition. The alternative would be to put all competitors into a single pool, where, all else being equal, the 15-30 year old male athletes would most likely outperform everyone else - not super fun if you're not a 15-30 year old male athlete.

Allums wants to finish college, and the implication of the article is that he'd have difficulty doing so without his basketball scholarship. He hasn't done anything - at least, not yet - that would disqualify him biologically from continuing with that. So where's the story? That he announces he doesn't want to be called "she" anymore? Big deal. He can call himself an alligator for all it matters to sports, because it's based purely on the biological, and right now, he has a female body.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If we are to have women's athletic teams - and I hope we are - they must exclude men from competition.

You can exclude biological men and FtM's who have started hormones, while still allowing a man who is biologically female to play.

And Joe Beese, this quote: "When people refer to me as ‘girl’ or ‘she,’ it doesn’t sit well with me... That feeling you get when someone pisses you off, that feeling you get when your stomach gets hot and it aches, that’s what it feels like. And that’s how I know I’m not supposed to be a girl," is not Kye denying that he is biologically female or claiming to be biologically male. He's denying that his gender is female. As overflow pointed out, sex and gender are separate things. Kye is a biological female, and thus eligible to play on his team, and a man, and thus entitled to be addressed as such.
posted by Mavri at 12:58 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


On preview: I agree with bakerina's explanation of how cis- and trans- work as sexual identity prefixes.

When I first started hearing the term cisgendered used frequently was around when I learned about cis-trans isomerism in chemistry, so the terms have always sounded fairly clear and appropriate to me.
posted by JiBB at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I don't really understand people's confusion in this case, since she's biologically female it all
> really boils down to the use of a pronoun.

This is the easiest transgender case I ever remember. What does it matter if the player concerned was born biologically female, is still biologically female, plays for a women's team, but chooses to self-identify as somehow mystically a guy? That doesn't have the slightest effect on (pronoun)'s suitability for fairly competing against other born-female-still-female players, any more than self-identifying as a space alien or Napoleon would.
posted by jfuller at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I first started hearing the term cisgendered used frequently was around when I learned about cis-trans isomerism in chemistry, so the terms have always sounded fairly clear and appropriate to me.

I'm reading Dan Simmons' Hyperion books for the first time (I'm devouring them!) and he uses the word cislunar a lot. Makes me laugh.

I'm super-happy for this guy. People being able to be out at college and have friends and administration support them is fantastic, and a massive change from just ten years ago.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is sponsoring...

Also a FUCK YEAH! for MeFi :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Allums hasn't even adopted a male name. "Kye" is a made-up word which could easily be a girl's name, no more gender specific than "Kay-Kay".
I'm all for transgender rights, but calling Allums "transgender" is silly and devalues the very real problems faced by real transgendered people.
posted by w0mbat at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2010


tbh w0mbat I think exactly the opposite. Visibility, visibility, visibility. Minds aren't changed by quibbling over who meets what definition of transgender, and who is "transsexual enough" to come into our clubhouse.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


He can call himself an alligator for all it matters to sports

I can assure that if he called himself an alligator, the newspapers would pick up on this. Allums is news because he is openly trans, and it is sort of different and neat that he's a he on a she-team, but for reasons that all make sense.

Allums hasn't even adopted a male name. "Kye" is a made-up word which could easily be a girl's name, no more gender specific than "Kay-Kay".
I'm all for transgender rights, but calling Allums "transgender" is silly and devalues the very real problems faced by real transgendered people.


Eh wot? He's not a real transgendered person? Would he only be real if he changed his name to Brick Hardslab?
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Allums hasn't even adopted a male name. "Kye" is a made-up word which could easily be a girl's name

It's Kyler. It works while he's playing on the women's basketball team and can be butched up to Kyle if he decides to go that way post surgery.

I'm all for transgender rights, but

But what? This is a very real problem faced by transgendered people and this is how one transgendered person is dealing with it. It's a real problem.
posted by jessamyn at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm all for transgender rights ...

Not really. If you were, you're recognize that what he's currently doing -- coming out and living as a male -- is the first step in transitioning to his gender. The suggestion that it's "silly" to call him male at this stage shows blatant disregard for transgender people and the struggle they go through.
posted by rcade at 2:53 PM on November 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


There are biological reasons why men tend to be better at sports like basketball, just like there are biological reasons why a 25-year-old tends to be better than a 50-year-old.

Yes, and there are biological reasons why Tim Lincecum can throw fastballs well enough to be a major league pitcher and I can't. In broader terms, there are biological reasons why some men can run 100 meters in 10 seconds and others can't. That's hardly led to separate leagues for slow runners and fast runners. This male-female/age-group delineation of sporting leagues goes deeper than just dividing people up by inherent ability, otherwise my suggestion of just having leagues by talent would be the norm (here "norm" referring to the most frequent, not a value judgement, as some have feared). This would be eminently doable by having enough leagues to accommodate anyone who wanted to play. For some sports, the ratio of men to women would change as one progressed through the leagues, for others, not so much. I'm not sure what the harm would be, but I suspect that for sports that demand speed or strength there would be no or at most very, very few women in the highest leagues. This would be unacceptable, as women were excluded culturally from sports for so long and they are identifiable as a subgroup. Wimpy guys with dreams of sports hero-dom form no such identifiable subgroup with well documented discrimination against participation in sports (but it happens; let me tell you, it happens to those of us who are inept at sports).
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding transgender rights, transition is an act of activism tbh. Sometimes you just want to live your life, but activism keeps happening around you anyway.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:57 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for transgender rights, but calling Allums "transgender" is silly and devalues the very real problems faced by real transgendered people.

What?

Yeah, no. What rcade said.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on November 2, 2010


sonika said: This may or may not have any relevance to the outside world, other than showing that your sexuality may change over time, especially as you grow into your gender identity.

yes! I don't understand why people assume that when one thing changes, all the others have to stay the same. This isn't a controlled experiment, people. This is real life.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:01 PM on November 2, 2010


Wimpy guys with dreams of sports hero-dom form no such identifiable subgroup with well documented discrimination against participation in sports (but it happens; let me tell you, it happens to those of us who are inept at sports).

If your point is that having male and female leagues is unfair to wimpy guys, keep in mind that there are plenty of wimpy women out there who are also excluded from the ranks of the elite athlete. Male and female leagues are important for parity between the sexes, not so everyone on earth gets to participate. I don't actually think it would be eminently doable to have leagues for every level of ability. Too expensive.
posted by Mavri at 3:26 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't actually think it would be eminently doable to have leagues for every level of ability. Too expensive.

This was the main argument by opponents against Title IX.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:47 PM on November 2, 2010


Yeah, and my understanding is that some men's sports have been cut back in order to comply with Title IX. You're talking about a much larger expansion.
posted by Mavri at 4:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for transgender rights, but calling Allums "transgender" is silly and devalues the very real problems faced by real transgendered people.

I'm going to go ahead and call you "silly" and say that this statement devalues the very real problems faced by transgendered people.
posted by sonika at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm all for transgender rights, but calling Allums "transgender" is silly and devalues the very real problems faced by real transgendered people.

Who put you in charge of deciding who's 'real,' anyway?

As far as the name goes, people have all kinds of crazy-ass names these days. There was a transgender person at my store named Gäel. I simply told them "You have an umlaut in your name. That's very fucking metal."
posted by jonmc at 5:39 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a sweet story. Compare this to where I work, where people complained because a transgender person who was transitioning was allowed to use the UNISEX BATHROOM.
posted by acrasis at 5:46 PM on November 2, 2010


""cisgendered" is a neologism invented by transgendered people and of use to no-one except transgendered people,"

You don't speak for me. I find it very useful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:52 PM on November 2, 2010


Is this where I vote?
posted by found missing at 7:14 PM on November 2, 2010


I should add that I am not unsympathetic with people who find this whole transgender thing confusing. The aforementiond Gäel? She was hired while I was away on vacation, and from outward appearances she looked, well, like a butch lesbian, which is not something I hadn't encountered before. One day, Gäel and a female employee were blocking a path to something I need to get at and I said in a mock suave voice "Excuse me, ladies..." they cleared the path but Gäel looked vaguely upset. A few minutes later a manager pulled me aside and said "Gäel prefers to be referred to as a male." I was momentarily irked that I was supposed to know this without being told, but at the end of the day it wasn't a big deal. The umlaut joke in my previous comment was basically my way of asking "we cool?" and the grin on his face said "Yeah, we're cool."

So, yeah this can all be a bit baffling, but there are people who can help to teach, and there are people who want to learn, so be patient.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what? This is a very real problem faced by transgendered people and this is how one transgendered person is dealing with it. It's a real problem.
posted by jessamyn at 5:47 PM on November 2


Yes, and comprehension is a very real problem faced by anyone who reads the New York Times. The only reason this is a story is because the Times chose to use the male pronoun to refer to a biologically female member of the basketball team at GWU that is exclusive to biologically female players. If you replace "he" with "she" in the story, there is no story - it literally becomes a story about a woman who plays on the women's team who wants to be referred to by masculine pronouns.

For most people, i.e. most people who were not explicitly taught otherwise, "Transgendered Man" means "a man who considers himself to be a woman." It isn't until the 5th paragraph that this notion is challenged, but in such a subtle way that the result is confusion.

Some clarifications: male/female is a biological characteristic. man/woman is a social construction rooted in the aforementioned biological characteristics. The confusion in this thread is between people who think that masculine/feminine parts of language is rooted in the biological distinction on the one hand, and those who think it is rooted in the social construction.

Think of it this way: a human body is dead and naked on a slab in the morgue. Barring any additional information, is it a man or woman? If you can answer the question either way, then you are using the biological distinction to base your language. If you are basing the distinction on social gender identity, then you cannot answer without additional information.

This does not get into the question of whether gender construction is a matter of choice, or if it is something that is socially determined by everyone else. This isn't trivial. Someone is only considered tall or fat based on their relation to other people. You can't decide to call yourself "tall" if you are 5'6", and expect everyone to go along with it.

Likewise, the female subject of this story (and he is a female) can call himself a man all he likes. But that doesn't mean he is a man to everyone else. They construct his gender in their own minds just as much as he constructs his in his. That isn't right or wrong, it just is.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:58 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, there are plenty of sports that include handicap systems and classes to accommodate differences in body mass and strength.
Which team sports do this? Which team sports are even able to do this?
Wheelchair basketball and rugby. I am not endorsing this as a model for transgenderists in sport.
posted by joeclark at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2010


Something of a self-indulgent anecdote, but kinda describes the opposite scenario:

Back in college I had to take sports courses almost every semester. At the time I'd been on hormones and physiologically transitioning from male to female for a while, and for the most part was treated as a girl/woman by people. However, no official steps had been taken, I hadn't outright come out and I certainly hadn't made any official announcement to the school administration. Having a *very* male name and a "Mr." prefix on the roster caused some awkward situations, but for the most part I tried to downplay any discomfort I felt over those.

One of these courses I ended up taking was archery, and I seriously sucked at it. I'd gone into the class thinking it would be an easy way to while away an hour or two and knock out a graduation requirement, but I was seriously mistaken. I was expecting a GPA-destroying grade at the end of the semester, so it was a huge surprise when I found I'd ended up with a B. As it turned out, there were two curves used for grading the class, a men's and a women's one. The instructor had disregarded whatever was on the roster and graded me along with the rest of the women, resulting in a much better grade than I would have gotten otherwise.

To this day I haven't managed to untangle the conflicted mess of emotions I felt over that small revelation. The fact that there were two curves in a class as non-physical as archery to begin with, the fact that this ended up benefiting me, whether my feelings of being condescended to were the result of a perspective I was comfortable having...

All this over something that was essentially without stake, without any wider implication beyond a transient blip on my GPA.

On preview: Pastabagel, your casual assumption of authority on normative language use in a subject you're clearly unfamiliar with grates a little.
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:02 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't pretend to know enough about the issues to participate in the discussion above. However, I can't imagine that what Kye is doing is easy, or takes anything less than a goodly amount of courage. Good on him.

I imagine that when they're on the road, home crowds in the other team's gym will say all sorts of vile things. They shouldn't, but that won't stop them.
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:12 PM on November 2, 2010


Sweet story. Thanks.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:53 PM on November 2, 2010


You're all just picking on me because I'm a trans-species marsupial. Bloody humans.
posted by w0mbat at 11:58 PM on November 2, 2010


Archery actually takes a lot of upper body strength--which men tend to have more of.

I used to do archery in 4-H, and some of the technology (compound bows) closes the gap somewhat, but if it's easier for you to hold and draw back the bow in general, it's going to be a lot easier for you to control it on a finer level.

(Someone correct me if I'm wrong, it's been a decade +.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:17 AM on November 3, 2010


Allums hasn't even adopted a male name. "Kye" is a made-up word which could easily be a girl's name, no more gender specific

The boy's name Kye \k-ye\ is a variant of Kai (Welsh, Scandinavian, Greek) and Kyle (Gaelic)
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:50 AM on November 3, 2010


On preview: Pastabagel, your casual assumption of authority on normative language use in a subject you're clearly unfamiliar with grates a little.
posted by tigrrrlily at 1:02 AM on November 3


It isn't a casual assumption, but notice how immediately your focus went to language and not the biology of the situation, i.e. the scientific reality.

Here is the point you are missing. I am the absolute authority on the language I use, just as you are the absolute authority on the language you use. You don't get to determine the meaning of the words I use. If you want to introduce ambiguity into the terms we use to distinguish sex or gender because it suits you, go ahead. But it does not suit me, so I'm not going to do it. It would be absurd of us to have less clarity on the biological distinction between male and female humans than we do for male and female tigers or rabbits.

Let me be clear about this: Just because this basketball player calls himself a man doesn't mean that I have to. It's enough that I see him as a woman who thinks of herself as a man. I choose not to, because it misrepresents the reality of the story. As I see it, a woman wants to play on a women's basketball team. It's only "historic" or "relevant" because of what this woman chooses to call herself. I am a male. I play on a basketball team. If I choose to call myself "wolf", that doesn't make me a pioneer for animal rights as the first canine to play on a human basketball team.

My use and understanding of the language allows me to understand exactly what is going on in the story as well as what is going on in the writing of the story. My application of my definitions of the words "man", "woman", "male" and "female" gives me a better understanding of the reality of this story than if I applied your definitions. Look at the confusion in this thread, and tell me if you think I'm being unreasonable.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:06 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


the biology of the situation, i.e. the scientific reality

You seem to think that the biology is always and only the determining factor, and that it is always clear-cut - male is like this and female is like this. And reality is not that simple.
posted by rtha at 7:12 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just because this basketball player calls himself a man doesn't mean that I have to. It's enough that I see him as a woman who thinks of herself as a man. I choose not to, because it misrepresents the reality of the story.

This, right here, misrepresents the reality that transgender people live with every single day and as long as people cling to beliefs like this rather than opening their minds to the possibility of gender beyond a strict binary, they will keep struggling with these same issues.

Language isn't the problem here. The problem is that you're misrepresenting the situation as something it's not. Kye Allum doesn't identify as a woman at all. He accepts that he's biologically female, but he doesn't claim to be a woman. And yes, there's a difference. And if you can't see that difference, I suggest you read up on transgender theory and history rather than blindly arguing your own assumptions.

(Might I suggest My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein as a good start.)

My use and understanding of the language allows me to understand exactly what is going on in the story as well as what is going on in the writing of the story.

Except that you don't. You don't see that there is a difference between a cisgendered woman and a transgendered man. You are only seeing the biology and not the identity involved. Biology is not destiny, as trans folk have been trying to establish for eons. This story may be exceptional in the binary that exists in the sports world, but as far as Allum's identity goes, it is just as wrong to refer to him as a woman as it would be to refer to me as a man.

Look at the confusion in this thread, and tell me if you think I'm being unreasonable.

I have, and I do.
posted by sonika at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "scientific reality" includes the "scientific reality" of psychology, neuroscience, and other sciency stuff.

The "scientific reality" is that gender identity does not have a 1:1 correlation with genitalia, chromosomes, how a child is reared, or anything else.

Even chromosomes and genitals can be more complicated than "male" and "female".

You'd like to think that xy does one thing, and that's it, and that's all that affects it, and that's a male. xx does something else, and it's a female.

Simple, easy, obvious. It's not. There is a lot more to it than that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:14 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am a male. I play on a basketball team. If I choose to call myself "wolf", that doesn't make me a pioneer for animal rights as the first canine to play on a human basketball team.

Yet another example of why analogies are pretty stupid.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look at the confusion in this thread, and tell me if you think I'm being unreasonable.

I think confusion is reasonable when people are first confronted with transgender issues because most people aren't raised to understand how sex and gender can be different. Refusing to even try to understand what's going on and refusing to respect Kye's identity by insisting he's a woman is not reasonable.

"My generation... We were taught to always have respect for everyone. We were taught that you respect others by calling them what they want to be called. What they call themselves."

You're breaking this rule.
posted by Mavri at 7:34 AM on November 3, 2010


Kye is a girl's name.
posted by w0mbat at 9:09 AM on November 3, 2010


Kye is a girl's name.

Your link supports the statement "some girls are called Kye." Here is my link supporting "Kye is a boy's name"
posted by jessamyn at 9:12 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Variant of Kai
posted by found missing at 9:17 AM on November 3, 2010


What is your name, w0mbat?

I would like to judge it to see if it is sufficiently masculine/feminine.

If not, you'll have to stop identifying as a man/woman because obviously you don't take it seriously enough.

And those men who were named Stacey or Jordan before they became popular as girls' names should give up their man card ASAP.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:51 AM on November 3, 2010


Kye is a girl's name.

My name was traditionally a boy's name! But I am a girl! Therefore I must not really be a girl, because I have a boy's name!
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on November 3, 2010


I was all set on naming my proto-sprog Noah until it became an ambisextrous name. If Noah can be a girl's name, Kye can certainly be a boy's name. For serious.
posted by sonika at 10:05 AM on November 3, 2010


If you want a rival baby name encyclopedia reference, (although those things are such bullshit), this one cites it purely as a girl's name.

Wearing a women's uniform, playing on a women's team, and adopting a girl's name would be a great way for a male to female transexual to assert her new identity.
Allums - good luck to you, but ur doin it wrong.
posted by w0mbat at 10:14 AM on November 3, 2010


maybe his dad actually suggested it because his dad wouldn't be around and he wanted him to be really tough and fight lots of people in order to become tough and so he was like "the last thing I will ever do as a father is name you after a girl, see ya" and so really

if you think about it having a girls name makes you even MORE MACHO

QED
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:17 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Allums - good luck to you, but ur doin it wrong.

Fuck that. Who died and made you the transgender police?

In college, I knew four Stewarts (one might have been a Stuart, I can't remember). One of the Stewarts - which your reference will probably cite as exclusively a name for boys - was a girl. A girl who was born a girl and liked being a girl and did not feel like she had been born into the wrong body. I guess she and her parents were doin it wrong too. God fucking forbid that people like Kye (which is to say, people) get to name themselves.
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Allums - good luck to you, but ur doin it wrong.

Because you've been transgendered and know how to do it right and are the authority on everything?

This is the kindest thing I can say in the face of the heaping pile of ignorance that you've dropped in here.
posted by sonika at 10:20 AM on November 3, 2010


(JINX rtha.)
posted by sonika at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2010


(owe me a coke, sonika!)
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on November 3, 2010


The "scientific reality" is that gender identity does not have a 1:1 correlation with genitalia, chromosomes, how a child is reared, or anything else.

There was a time when I kinda wanted to get myself tested and see if I was XY or something else. But then when I got over my WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED TO MEEEEE phase it occurred to me that the only point to knowing if I'm technically chromosomally intersex would be to win arguments on the internet. So I still have no idea! Hurrah!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:39 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


it occurred to me that the only point to knowing if I'm technically chromosomally intersex would be to win arguments on the internet.

Not knowing means you could pull out the argument "I don't know what my chromosomes are and neither do you!" Though it doesn't really have the same kind of blinded by SCIENCE! vibe, it'd still be true.
posted by sonika at 10:42 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are five claims by five individuals:

1. I am biologically female but I strongly self-identify as male. Gender is a social construction distinct from biological sex, so accept my self-identification as a man. Your insistance that I am a woman is ignorant and offensive.

2. I am apparently white but I strongly self-identify as an Asian person. Race is a social construct with no biological reality, so accept my self-identification as Asian. Your insistance that I am Caucasian is ignorant and offensive.

3. My biological species is Homo sapiens but I strongly self-identify as Panthera tigris. Spiritual identity trumps crude biology, so accept my self-identification as feline. Your insistance that I am human is ignorant and offensive.

4. I am a creature from the planet Tralfamadore who was mistakenly born into a human body on Earth. With every ounce of my being I am convinced I am a Tralfamadorian, which is enough to make it true. Your insistance etc. etc.

5. I am Louis XIV of France reborn. I know this to be true beyond any shadow of a doubt.


I'm curious to know how one becomes just enlightened enough to roll with the first claim yet fall short concerning the second or the others. N.b. all of these are spiritual/psychological assertions so disconfirming physical evidence doesn't apply.
posted by jfuller at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2010


I'm curious to know how one becomes just enlightened enough to roll with the first claim

Because unlike all your other examples, in the first case someone can actually change their sex and become fully a member of the other sex. You can't change your heritage, though you can change your appearance of heritage. Similarly you can't change your species or your planet of origin.

If this was just Kye saying "I feel like a man on the inside, but I'm just going to stay female and feel like something's wrong" it's a different situation from "I feel like a man on the inside and am starting down the path to actually having my physical sex characteristics and hormonal makeup matching the gender that I feel that I am. However, this will take years to finally complete and in the meantime I am playing on a women's basketball team."

Does that answer your question? The span of time between making your decision to transition from one sex to another and the transition being complete is a pain in the ass time for the person undergoing the transition much more than any other person who happens to be tangentially involved. This is the place where Kye is. Or were you looking for the scientific backing as to why gender dysphoria is a real thing and, luckily for people alive today, treatable in a variety of ways.
posted by jessamyn at 11:08 AM on November 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm curious to know how one becomes just enlightened enough to roll with the first claim yet fall short concerning the second or the others.

Actually, only claim #5 of your post is reasonable. All the other ones contain a personal attack.

There's a certain level of basic human respect and decency with which people ought to treat others, regardless of the specific interpretations that they may have internally for what the world throws at them. And that basic respect and decency includes being kind and understanding even if we disagree with people and not actively or passively attacking the perfectly legitimate personal choices that people make. The question of whether Kye should be treated with respect and decency can be answered in the affirmative without any discussion of whether Kye is "doing it right" or whether Kye is "really" a woman or a man or whatever.

Does Kye have the right to change names? Of course.
Does Kye's choice of a new name that is not unambiguously masculine pose any real problem? No.
Does Kye qualify to play on the women's basketball team at GW? Yes.
Should people respect Kye's request to be referred to as a man, including pronouns, etc.? Yes.
Should people criticize Kye's personal choices to change names, be called by masculine pronouns, and continue to play on the women's basketball team? No.
And, finally, should any of the above answers be affected in any way by the answerer's opinions on sex, gender, transgender theory, terminology for describing people who are not transgender, sexual orientation, the morality of various conduct, including sexual and other conduct, etc? No. Not in the least.

Now, do I think it's somewhat peculiar that someone with a gender-ambiguous name to start with chose to change to another gender-ambiguous name as part of a transition to a new gender identity? Sure. Is it relevant in any way to how Kye ought to be treated? Of course not.
posted by The World Famous at 11:25 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


in the first case someone can actually change their sex and become fully a member of the other sex.

Kye can bear children? I assume he will not, none the less.

He noted that he was biologically identical to any other female, but said, “I just would prefer for people to call me a he.”
posted by clavdivs at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2010


Kye can bear children? I assume he will not, none the less.

WTF does this have to do with anything? There are plenty of XX women identified women who can't bear children. Reproductive function has nothing to do with sex or gender. Just ask anyone in a fertility clinic.
posted by sonika at 11:43 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


it has everything to do with it.

Reproductive function has nothing to do with sex or gender


as i male, can i bear a child?

Just ask anyone in a fertility clinic.

I have and the answer is still no, I cannot bear child.
posted by clavdivs at 12:54 PM on November 3, 2010


clavdivs, my point is that unless you really mean to imply that a woman who is unable to bear a child is less of a woman (which is exactly what you are implying right now), your argument doesn't hold any water whatsoever. If reproductive function is the be all and end all, people who are sterile by choice or by chance are less representative than those who are fertile. To me, that's just not true.
posted by sonika at 12:57 PM on November 3, 2010


What on earth are you even talking about. If you want to make an argument, don't be elliptical about it.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:57 PM on November 3, 2010


(that was to clavdivs, not sonika, who is not elliptical but instead rather keen)
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2010


Actually, only claim #5 of your post is reasonable. All the other ones contain a personal attack.

What do you mean by that? How is No 5. reasonable when 2-4 aren't and are personal attacks? Have you never heard of otherkin?
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:10 PM on November 3, 2010


a simple question
implications are yours.

as i male, can i bear a child?
the question holds. one cannot have an argument with questions and answers.
IMO pastabagel has a point.
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 PM on November 3, 2010


Because unlike all your other examples, in the first case someone can actually change their sex and become fully a member of the other sex. You can't change your heritage, though you can change your appearance of heritage. Similarly you can't change your species or your planet of origin.

So being trans is only okay because The Surgery exists? I don't think that's what you meant.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:19 PM on November 3, 2010


If reproductive function is the be all and end all, people who are sterile by choice or by chance are less representative than those who are fertile. To me, that's just not true.

without a doubt, and my sole-heir is proof of this. Without modern medicine, I would not have a nephew. (that i do not spend as much time as i should;)

having partly raised two Orphans, i again agree.

woman who is unable to bear a child is less of a woman

to contary, Kye states:

"...biologically identical to any other female, but said, “I just would prefer for people to call me a he.”
posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on November 3, 2010


contrary
posted by clavdivs at 1:27 PM on November 3, 2010


Look, people don't really give a shit about what you do or don't think is appropriate for them in terms of their gender identity.

And in fact, I think it's a little gross to sit around acting like you can be the judge of someone else's gender presentation.

I mean hey I don't wear pantyhose, OH NO NOT A LADY

That shit is stupid and reinforces harmful gender norms. In reality just cheer people on for being who they want to be and get over your arbitrary rules about shit that has nothing to do with you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


That shit is stupid and reinforces harmful gender norms.
talk to the lady if your talking to me.
posted by clavdivs at 1:37 PM on November 3, 2010


hmm, nice day for trolling
posted by found missing at 1:39 PM on November 3, 2010


And wow, this is ignorant:

2. I am apparently white but I strongly self-identify as an Asian person. Race is a social construct with no biological reality, so accept my self-identification as Asian. Your insistance that I am Caucasian is ignorant and offensive.

Actually, race as defined in the United States is a social construct with no biological reality. There's more human genetic diversity across Africa than there is in the rest of the world. There's no genetic rationale for grouping blacks together while making a distinction between European and East Asian ethnicity.

Beyond that, forensic anthropology is only between 80-90% accurate in identifying ethnicity. I knew a black woman from Egypt who was consistently misidentified as Italian. And Asia is a big landmass with billions of people from Turkey and Siberia.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:47 PM on November 3, 2010


Actually, only claim #5 of your post is reasonable. All the other ones contain a personal attack.

What do you mean by that? How is No 5. reasonable when 2-4 aren't and are personal attacks? Have you never heard of otherkin?


All but your #5 include: "Your insistance [to the contrary] is ignorant and offensive."
posted by The World Famous at 1:51 PM on November 3, 2010


So being trans is only okay because The Surgery exists?

I'm not making that argument at all. I am not, in this thread or anywhere, making any other argument than: being trans is totally okay and people should make an effort to respect other people's choices.

Explaining The Surgery option can be an easier way to draw a distinction in modern society where people have more choices available to them. In this specific instance Kye is a person who is choosing to transition, so that's relevant to this discussion. People may choose not to transition for various reasons, certainly.

I think a better point is that this sort of situation exists, has been studied by medical professionals and academics, and is being addressed by society using all the tools that they have. One of the most important tools that we have is people's understanding of what is involved in this sort of thing so they don't make "Hey why can't I make people call me an orchid plant if that's what I truly feel that I am?" comments and drawing false analogies.

The "sex does not equal gender" talking point is a useful one but not always clear to people off the bat.
posted by jessamyn at 1:54 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


All but your #5 include: "Your insistance [to the contrary] is ignorant and offensive."

Not mine. The list was posted by jfuller. Thanks for the explanation. I couldn't figure out where you were coming from.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:56 PM on November 3, 2010


Oops. Sorry - quick, sloppy reply on my part.
posted by The World Famous at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2010




GW transgender player deals with wave of publicity: "Junior Kye Allums says instead he decided to put off beginning testosterone treatments or having surgery so he could stay with the women's team."

It's going to be interesting watching the new generation of trans kids, and particularly the gen that follows them, in that, in a welcoming and non-stupidly-judgmental environment, many of them will choose to put off mones and treatment for prosaic and mundane reasons. As society gradually stops screaming and jumping on a stool whenever one of us goes by, passing for cis will become less and less important (I'm a woman and I damn know it, but part of the rationale for all the laser treatments and the shaving and so on is so I don't get the shit beaten out of me in the street) and trans kids will start to get the same freedom of expression as cis people.

It's going to be fucking awesome.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:31 PM on November 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


He remains anatomically a women, but wants to be referred to as "he."

I'm glad the Post could answer my question.
posted by clavdivs at 4:19 PM on November 3, 2010


Thank you for responding seriously, Jessamyn. It was a general question and did not directly concern the person whose situation and backstory were linked in the fpp, but there has been enough discussion of transgenderism in general in this thread that I thought I'd risk it. I take the question seriously and it is absolutely not trolling for lulz. To be perfectly clear, the question is: does treating others with "a certain level of basic human respect and decency" require that we accept -- and play along with and support without scrutiny their rationalizations of their most egregious fantasies, because doing otherwise would cause them pain? And that in turn leads to all the hairy contention over which are the egregious fantasies (and ultimately to What Is Reality? and What Is Truth? so I don't expect instant resolution.) My five cases were graded starting from a claim that some (but not all even on this site) will accept and progressing onward to others that are more likely to be seen by all as ridiculous and even insane. It seems to me that the point where we draw the line between egregious fantasy (which can be disregarded) and "personal reality" (which must be supported in all decency) is... socially constructed, and hence largely arbitrary. I want to clarify that.


> Does that answer your question?

It shows me the form that a considered reply would take, certainly. But details nag. For instance, drawing a line that embraces 1. but excludes 2. involves your claiming "You can't change your heritage." It's very doubtful that the life experience of being born in in Xinjiang and raised/socialized as an Uighur carries so mucher greater a weight of heritage than the experience of being born female and raised/socialized as a girl that the first is fixed and inescapeable (preventing one's truly changing one's western-white-guy identity to an East-Central Asian one) while the second can be cast off and left behind (thus not preventing one's swapping one's female identity for a male one, or vice versa.) And without that high hurdle the rest of the process of changing one's outer undesired white-westerner physical details to match the inner Asian-identity spiritual reality of which one is convinced (some language and culture study, a few light melanin injections, a little surgery on the epicanthic folds) is actually easier than what someone must endure to progress from transgendered to fully transsexual. And yet somehow no one believes that some flavor of western white guy can really become some flavor of Asian. Imitate, yes. Become, no. As fluent and acculturated as thay were, neither Richard F. Burton nor even Lawrence of Arabia actually became Arab. But yet again, you say one can actually change their sex and become fully a member of the other.

I do accept that that is true--but only in the this-is-the-socially-constructed-reality-among-progressives sense of true, which would probably not satisfy any given transgendered person because socially constructed reality is so very unreliable and so subject to opinion shifts and meme popularity. So at least part of the clarification I'm working on is to find out just how far away from basic human decency I am, and what's on the shortest possible short list of claims (certainly at least one of my five, above) that I must give up subjecting to doubt and scrutiny and just accept on faith in order to close the decency gap.
posted by jfuller at 5:27 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beyond that, forensic anthropology is only between 80-90% accurate in identifying ethnicity. I knew a black woman from Egypt who was consistently misidentified as Italian.

I read stuff like this and wonder if the forensic anthropology is off, or if some skeleton's closet just got rattled.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:17 PM on November 3, 2010


we accept -- and play along with and support without scrutiny their rationalizations of their most egregious fantasies,

Gender dysphoria isn't an egregious fantasy, it's a carefully documented psychiatric condition. Your other examples are examples of actual delusions, whereas gender dysphoria is a concrete condition with treatment guidelines and is not merely a fantasy.

There are other examples of this in psychiatry - notably body integrity identity disorder, which is the sensation that one is "supposed" to be an amputee and will go to great lengths, including the actual severing of limbs, to achieve that.

In these cases, the individual is not suffering from a delusion or a fantasy, but a concrete sense of identity that is divorced from the body in which they live. This is not some fringe woo-woo thing: these are areas of psychiatry with diagnostic and treatment criteria. And for transgendered folk, the treatment is to live their lives as the gender they identify with.
posted by sonika at 6:17 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's very doubtful that the life experience of being born in in Xinjiang and raised/socialized as an Uighur carries so mucher greater a weight of heritage than the experience of being born female and raised/socialized as a girl that the first is fixed and inescapeable (preventing one's truly changing one's western-white-guy identity to an East-Central Asian one) while the second can be cast off and left behind

There are girls over the world, being raised in all sorts of different ways. A culture is unique to a place, and while you could certainly feel an affinity with another culture, assimilate, and be accepted, you'd be no more born, say, Chinese than you were a Martian.

But being born into a culture isn't the same as being born into a sex. How is that not crystal clear? You know there are intersex people, right? Chromosomal abnormalities (for want of a better word; it's late) abound in the human race, and studies have been performed on dead transsexual people (some who did have treatment and some who did not) that show that areas of the brain called words I can't remember match those typical of the sex they identify as.

I didn't "change sex". That's the cis world's phrase for what I did. I always had ladybits in my brain, but a short-circuit in the womb gave me manbits outside. I just brought the latter in line with the former.

As for basic human decency, I've known two lovely trans women who were killed for being what I am, so if you're not actually doing that you're probably about average. Not that I enjoyed this reply, of course.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


> Gender dysphoria isn't an egregious fantasy, it's a carefully documented psychiatric condition. Your other examples are examples of
> actual delusions, whereas gender dysphoria is a concrete condition with treatment guidelines and is not merely a fantasy.

You're being too combative by half. I did not say gender identity disorder is a fantasy. Period. I have no doubt there are people who are desperately unhappy with the way they were born.

I did say I was interested to know more clearly why certain notions are accepted as an individual's experienced personal reality and treated with seriousness and compassion, while other notions that real people also experience as true and real and that impact their lives and happiness are handwaved away as delusions. You surely aren't going to tell me that GID was a fantasy until it got an entry in the DSM? Certainly not, you're going to say it was just as real before the diagnosticians caught up with it and assigned a diagnostic code, and I agree. The other cases I described (and an unlimited number of others I might have described) have no such entry -- yet. If one of them becomes more common and/or picks up effective advocates, the psychiatric community will certainly respond, so it's a bit premature (and also hints at a certain lack of sympathy with cases that might divert attention from yours) to just label them "delusions" and pass on. Conversely, if one of the existing diagnostic codes loses popularity and attracts opposition and advocacy against it, the psychiatric community will respond to that also. I'm sure you're aware that homosexuality was once listed as a mental disorder in the DSM, but that it no longer is. These are places where the social construction comes in.
posted by jfuller at 8:31 PM on November 3, 2010


"In words, as fashions, the same rule will
hold,
Alike fantastic, if too new, or old:
Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."
- Alexander Pope

this is an epigram from Hutchings 'Psychatric Word Book' (1943)

under the definition of Homosexuality
"Interst in, and love for....It is a perversion when it involves sensual gratification."

strange that.
posted by clavdivs at 9:09 PM on November 3, 2010


You're being too combative by half.

You can't see why? What you're doing is very much like coming into a thread about gay marriage and asking, in all seriousness and I don't understand why we can't have a sensible conversation about this, if we're going to have men marry each other, and I totally understand why they would want to and support it, then why can't women marry dogs and spaceships marry pool tales?

Transgender people have existed throughout recorded history. When treatment paths more subtle than castration and more effective than crossdressing opened up, they turned out to be effective (if dangerous for the early adopters). Later, there turned out to be a biological basis for transsexualism and there are many theories to explain why people are born this way. The treatment paths have become much more sophisticated and a wide range of people have shown benefit. We don't just accept someone's stated sex identity out of the blue and out of context from this history.

In addition:

I am biologically female but I strongly self-identify as male. Gender is a social construction distinct from biological sex, so accept my self-identification as a man. Your insistance that I am a woman is ignorant and offensive.

You're assuming that you know more about this individual's "biological sex" than you actually do, or you are conflating (presumed) XX chromosomes with "100% biologically female". It's not anything like that simple, so this is not an adequate premise on which to rest your comparison examples.

I probably would have described myself as "biologically male but strongly female-identified" before I transitioned. Since then I've spent over a decade talking about it, and have refined my ideas somewhat.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:54 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't at all trying to be combative, merely pointing out the actual medical distinction between gender dysphoria and fantasy because I felt like there was some honest confusion about the issue. If you feel like my stance is "combative," perhaps you need to re-evaluate where you're coming from.

What you're doing is very much like coming into a thread about gay marriage and asking, in all seriousness and I don't understand why we can't have a sensible conversation about this, if we're going to have men marry each other, and I totally understand why they would want to and support it, then why can't women marry dogs and spaceships marry pool tales?

Also, this. Except, instead of saying this, I provided concrete evidence for why gender dysphoria, unlike your other examples, isn't a "fantasy" rather than make up analogies. But that's really all I did.
posted by sonika at 3:51 AM on November 4, 2010


"Better trans than gay?" I know of several women who self-identified as butch lesbians. Their religiously conservative families (Muslim and Seventh-Day Adventist) would not accept their daughters as masculine gay women. However, after years of conflict and pain, the families did give approval to the women's transitioning to be heterosexual men. I was appalled.

I can't help but wonder if Kye Allums might be experiencing similar pressures from family.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:33 AM on November 4, 2010


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