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Kye Allums, transgender baskeball player, inspires miserable ledes

November 4, 2010 - 01:00 PM
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Kye Allums, left (Photo: Associated Press)

The story of GW women's basketball guard Kye Allums, the trans man who will become the first openly transgender player in NCAA basketball history, made international news this week. This heightened awareness of the issue came with a price: As is the case any time a transgender story hits the mainstream press, Allums' story emerged in a flurry of miserable opening lines.

Transgender stories inspire journalists to file truly wretched ledes, ones marked by absurd gender stereotypes ("Allums never felt like sugar and spice and everything nice"), pronounced pronoun play ("she, sorry, he"), notes on the subject's genitalia ("a girl with working female parts"), and limp ambiguities ("Kye Allums is several things all at once").

You can read my own sorry attempt here. Below, recapping the worst of the worst:

New York Daily News: "Kay-Kay Allums tried to fit in. The George Washington University basketball player wore frilly dresses, hair ribbons and makeup for a while as a teenager. But Allums never felt like sugar and spice and everything nice. Allums felt more like frogs and snails and puppy dogs' tails for the past decade."

CNN: "George Washington University junior Kye Allums will play women's basketball again this year. But he will now play the role of a brother, not a sister, to his teammates."

The Province: "She started out Kay-Kaye. Now she, sorry, he, wants to be known as Kye. That's right, the NCAA has its first transgendered basketball player."

NESN: "Kye Allums spent much of his youth searching for his identity. Now, he will soon take that identity onto an NCAA basketball court for George Washington's season opener, and in doing so become the first openly transgendered player in the history of NCAA basketball."

Bleacher Report: "Psst…come closer. Let me tell you a secret. The starting quarterback on your favorite football team may be gay."

USA Today: "Kye Allums was conspicuous at practice Wednesday. Allums sported a modified Mohawk and wore tights. None of Allums' teammates did the same. And it was the least of their differences."

Fanhouse: "By the end of the first week of sit-ins 50 years ago in Greensboro, N.C., the scores of black college students daring to break segregation's stranglehold on freedom by demanding service at whites' only lunch counters had attracted angry white mobs set on maintaining the status quo."

Bossip: "Kye Allums is making big waves in NCAA Division 1 basketball. Considering that Kye has been playing for George Washington for several seasons already—you’d think it wouldn’t be such a big deal, except now Kye is playing openly as a transgender man on a woman’s team. Confusing?"

Gather.com: "Kye Allums was born Kay-Kay. A girl with working female parts."

FOXSports: "Kye Allums is several things all at once: a student at George Washington University, a women’s basketball player and a transgender person who has identified as a man."

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  1. parker24 parker24

    Parker Donnell

    Nov 04, 2010 - 01:50:41 PM

    And why is the Bleacher Report columnist equating transgendered with gay?

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  2. Lauren Surprenant Lauren Surprenant

    Lauren Surprenant

    Nov 05, 2010 - 10:06:35 AM

    Some of those are truly awful. However, Amanda, you do not get so say your attempt was sorry. It was very much not so. Also, although NESN uses "transgendered" instead of "transgender," I am not so deeply offended by that lede. However, if you follow the link to the article, some of the language writer Nick Coman uses ("she decided to identify as male") makes me a bit uncomfortable. It might be worth the read.

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  3. TJ TJ

    TJ T

    Nov 04, 2010 - 01:43:00 PM

    What the hell does racial segregation have to do with Kye being transgendered?

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