Just hearing the word Nike and LGBT together caught my attention. I had no idea what a Nike LGBT Sports Summit would consist of. All I knew is that I was going to be in the presence of many organizations that are leading the way for LGBT equality. All of these organizations were amazing and well established and at this point all I was thinking was, “I don’t even have an organization, what am I doing here? The only thing I have going for myself are my speaking engagements to educate athletes, students, and staff on transgender issues.”
The first day started bright and early at 8:30 am inside Nike headquarters. We broke into groups to talk about our own organizations and what our own goals were. The members in my group where Alison Doerfler the executive director of Stand Up Foundation, Anna Aagenes with Our group, Jim Buzinski with Outsports.com, and Sue Rankin with Penn State University. Although I was feeling out of place, Sue Rankin soon reminded me that I was indeed there for a reason. As she stood in front of the whole room and summarized what we talked about she let everyone know that my soon to be organization “IMEnough” would be geared towards empowerment of the trans community and creating transgender visibility through photography, performance art, and storytelling. My organization will stand for what I believe in and that is all that matters. I was in the right place at the right time and I needed the summit just as much as it needed me. Over the next two days we would be brainstorming and collaborating with each other to figure out how to create a safe space to eliminate homophobia, transphobia, and bullying in all levels of athletics.
One of the most eye opening moments for me at the Summit was the discussion we had about what areas we thought needed more attention and focus in order to create this safe and respectful environment for LGBTQ athletes. We all had 5 votes and to be honest it was disheartening to see that out of 35 focused project areas trans awareness came in at 29. I believe that being transgender is a primary issue. One can’t even focus on playing a sport, let alone loving another person if they cannot be themselves. So to me being transgender NEEDS to be explained so people can become educated and aware. After Day 2 was over I did feel a little discouraged. Although the veteran advocates at the summit tried to pick me up, visually seeing where people placed there focuses and concerns was most hard for me. I did realize that no one is perfect and “privilege is invisible to those who have it”. If you are not transgender it is an easy matter to overlook. From that thought I knew exactly what I needed to do.
After a good night’s rest I was reenergized and ready for day three. We were given one minute to speak about our organizations. Since I did not have an organization I decided to share with the group my concerns about the lack of recognition of the “T” in LGBTQ and challenge them to never leave the “T” behind not only in conversations but also in their daily work. After the challenge I felt like every organization began to think about how they could better include transgender information.
Overall the summit was a great experience. I learned so much as a rookie advocate. Regardless of the amount of experience one had everyone had a role to play. One player cannot win the game alone it takes a team. Our team may have started off rocky but in the end we all refocused and “Redefined athletic champions”. Just because you win championships does not make you a champion. A champion accepts their teammates for who they are regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, gender, and class. Everyone on my Nike LGBT Sport Summit team is a champion. We are all enough.
About Kye Allums
Kye is a 22 year old African American male from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is a recent graduate of The George Washington University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. While attending GW, Kye made history by coming out as the first transgender basketball player to play openly on a Division 1 women’s basketball team. Since then he has been devoted to making a difference in the world by fighting transgender ignorance with education through his Transition Tour. Please contact Kye online at www.kyeallums.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org