Monday, November 15, 2010

How do we talk about, him....or is it her?

I guess I should be okay with the fact that the worst (that we've heard of) that has happened to George Washington's Kye Allums after his announcement of his gender change is that the media doesn't quite know how to talk about him.
Nevertheless, confusion within the media likely reflects confusion in society generally over gender identity and its intersection (or not) with sexual identity.
This article out of Minnesota, Allums's home state, was a little problematic. In addition to the offensive lead ("Kye Allums just looked like one of the gals Saturday afternoon" *le sigh*), the writer basically gave Allums a sex change halfway through the article.
Allums was referred to as a she for several paragraphs: "she dipped her shoulder;" "her season debut;" "she looked stylish."
And then magically she became a he.
Allums is a man. He made the announcement. He came out as transgender; explained the situation; explained his name change and pronoun preference. Just respect it and use it.
This also goes out to GWU coach Mike Bozeman who was very supportive of Allums when the announcement was made a couple of weeks ago. But Bozeman continued to refer to Allums as a she when he gave interviews this past weekend in Minnesota where GWU was competing in a tournament.
Actually others who played with or coaches Allums in Minnesota continue to refer to Kye as a she.
I know it takes a smidge of getting used to. But it's an interview about your transgender friend--not a casual conversation. A little bit of deliberate thought combined with respect for Allums's decision should result in proper pronoun use.


helen carroll said...

GWU has actually been very positive in their support of Kye coming out. I think you are correct that conscious thought must be given to using the correct pronouns, especially if you have known, as Coach Bozeman has, Kye as a 'she' for many years. I can tell you for a fact , that discussions have taken place and GWU IS conscious that diligence on pronouns is a must. GWU has been a model for inclusion in so many ways. let's hope other universities do as well!

ken said...

I completely agree and noted previously that GWU has been very supportive of Allums. I was mostly pointing out the medias' confusions in reporting on trans issues. I was disappointed in Bozeman though. Kye came out to him a lot earlier. I don't think it takes THAT much practice or consciousness. I have hope that it will improve, though.