50-year-old transsexual returns to college basketball as a woman

A 50-year-old is turning heads in the Bay Area around the women’s junior college basketball circuit. Her name is Gabrielle Ludwig (No. 42 pictured in the back row), and her story is pretty unusual. Not just because she’s back in the game after more than 30 years, but because the last time she played, she was a man.

In an excellent feature by USA Today’s Eric Prisbell, Ludwig explains that she was born as Robert John Ludwig, but never felt connected with her gender. She says she even tried committing suicide as a teenager by ingesting pills.

Ludwig grew into a physical specimen and dominated on the basketball court. At 6-foot-8, Bob Ludwig played basketball for Nassau Community College in New York for one semester in 1980. He joined the Navy, married twice and had a daughter, and settled in Northern California.

With support from his daughter, Ludwig underwent a sex change operation in July 2012 and began a new life with a female partner and her two daughters. It was while coaching one of the daughters in AAU basketball that Ludwig began considering making a basketball comeback.

Ludwig says she joked with the women’s coach at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., that she still had eligibility left, and the coach joked that he still had a roster spot left. So Ludwig enrolled in 12 credits of online courses to become a member of the basketball team. She recently was cleared to begin playing and scored three points and grabbed four rebounds in her debut, a 69-62 loss to College of the Siskiyous on Saturday — her first college basketball game since 1980.

Ludwig has the support of her teammates, whom she says are a bunch of misfits as well. She dealt with opposing fans and players heckling her Saturday, but says it’s all worth it.

“If the example I can set for the kids who are transgenders in high school, for the people who hate transgender people and for those learning to deal with transgenders, transsexuals, if they see me as a normal person and we are not the bogeyman and love life and raise kids just like you,” Ludwig says, “maybe some of this mystery of who these people are will be taken away and there can be more blending into society. People are afraid of what they don’t know. I am willing to put myself out there.

“It was not like that before. It was just about playing basketball. It’s about more (now) because I see an injustice.”

You can read USA Today’s entire feature on Gabrielle Ludwig here.

Related: Transgender bodybuilder heads back to competition as woman

Photo via Mission College Athletics

High schooler Jenson Daniel denied request to play on girls volleyball team

Jenson Daniel is a high school volleyball player who attends Yonkers High School in New York. However, male volleyball players at Yonkers High School have one pretty significant issue to deal with — there is no boys volleyball team because of a shortage of funds.

Unfortunately, Daniel is out of luck at the moment. The 17-year-old senior did what he had to do in order to play the sport he loves by signing up for the girls team, only to be told by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association that a boy on the girls team will not be allowed. The reason? He’s too tall, strong and fast of course.

Last year, Jensen was told he could be the team manager of the girls volleyball team — a team he had watched practice since his freshman year. He also got into several games but there were some objections raised by opposing coaches, one being that he wore mesh shorts instead of spandex like the rest of the female players.

“I felt that it wasn’t right,” he told The Journal News. “It was humiliating.”

But he kept wearing the spandex and kept playing in games, until it was ruled this year that he can no longer compete. Now, Daniel simply practices and warms up with the team.

“My teammates, my school, my church, my community — everybody supports (me),” Daniel said, adding that the theme of his college essay will be his battle to remain on the girls team. “I’m pretty confident. I’m going to fight it because nothing is given. You earn it, you take it. I’m going to fight it as much as I can.”

Like the cheering team that was disqualified for having a male compete, sometimes rules are rules — even if they don’t seem fair. Jenson is a victim of an unfortunate circumstance, but kudos to him for doing everything he can to overcome it.

High School Cheering Team Disqualified from Competition for Letting Male Compete

In an era where sports is trending toward gender equality, girls are getting more and more opportunities to participate on boys’ teams. Every now and then we see a high school girl kicking field goals for the football team. For Brandon Urbas, a 14-year-old Michigan high school cheerleader, the opposite is unfortunately not as openly accepted. In a recent competition, Urbas’ Y-gene led to his team’s disqualification. Urbas’ Michigan high school coach broke the news to him and the cheerleading team after a competition in Port Huron this week.

Urbas is the only male on his Lakeview High cheering team. That doesn’t seem to bother anyone, as evidenced by the fact that he insists he has received great support.

“(The football players) just tell me that if I have any problems to let them know and they always have my back,” Urbas said according to WXYZ in Michigan.

The same cannot be said for the Michigan High School Athletic Association which released a statement that read as follows: “Boys may not participate on a girls’ team in MHSAA sponsored postseason meets and tournaments. Schools have adopted this position to preserve participation opportunities for the historically underrepresented gender.”

Cheerleading has always been viewed as a girl’s sport. Few would dispute that. Still, to disallow a cheerleader because of his sex is a bit unfair in a sport measured by synchronicity, choreography, and spirit. A man’s testosterone level might give him an advantage in running or throwing, but timing your back-flips with teammates seems to favor no gender.

The biggest question is if Urbas was not allowed to participate, why was his team permitted to compete? The MHSAA could have avoided this by informing Lakeview of the rule. A male in a tournament where only females are allowed seems like an easy red flag to spot.

Photo via WXYZ’s news video.

Transgender Bodybuilder Headed Back to Competition as Another Sex

Chris Tina Bruce is a 42-year-old personal trainer from San Diego whose passion is competitive bodybuilding. At the Border States Classic Bodybuilding competition on Oct. 29th, the 6’3″, 190 pound hulking woman is making a comeback. Sort of.

Bruce was a regular at these competitions in the early ’90s. The difference was that she was up against male contestants, and she competed as Chris Gary Bruce. Back then Bruce was a man.

Bruce had grown up a man and remained so until 2009. She was married to a woman and fathered two children. No one knew that Bruce identified as a woman. Not friends, nor her family. Bruce’s only outlet into his feminine side was through his job in sales, which allowed him to cross-dress. Wearing women’s dresses would later factor into his divorce from his wife in 2007.

It was a year later that Bruce began to make major changes. She starting taking hormones, testosterone blockers, and underwent plastic surgery. Bruce finally became the woman she always wanted to be. Even with these changes, Bruce remains steadfast in her interests.

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Male Cheerleader Kicked off Team After Camera Catches Him Kissing a Dude

A male cheerleader at Alice High School (Tx) says he was kicked off the team after a school camera caught him kissing another boy on campus. The cheerleader says public displays of affection are a common occurrence around the school, and he feels he would not have been targeted if he were kissing a girl. The way he was caught makes him believe he was being targeted by the school.

“They never check cameras for anything unless something is stolen,” the young man told KRIS-TV. “We would be the ones getting caught because I’m sure we were the only ones, sexual orientation wise, being caught like that.”

The boy’s parents say they plan to take further action if their son is not put back on the team.

Here is a video of the news report from KRIS-TV:

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