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Transgender Basket Baller Becomes First To Play In Both Men’s and Women’s League

Transgender Basket Baller Becomes First To Play In Both Men’s and Women’s League

Transgender player makes college basketball first…

A transgender basketball player has become the first to play college basketball in both the men’s and women’s league. Gabrielle Ludwig, a 6-foot-6-inch, 220-lbs, transgender player on at Mission College achieved the remarkable goal when she stepped on the court to officially play as a woman for the first time in December last year.

Ludwig joined the Lady Saints as a mid-season walk-on and quickly became one of the most valued members of the team. But it wasn’t all plane sailing for Ludwig, who underwent the procedure to transform her from male to female in 2007.

Prior to her appearance on the court, Coach Corey Cafferata had been worried about the outside noise his players were receiving – ESPN hosts laughed at her looks and referred to her as ‘it’, Ludwig and the team also received online threats and anonymous calls – which prompted him to assign two police and a Navy veteran as guards.

Also concerned about distractions, Ludwig gathered her 10 teammates at practice and offered to quit, but the other women said if she quit, they would too. Finally after jumping administrations hurdles by obtaining a new birth certificate, she only received conference clearance to compete on the last day of November.

Ludwig’s love for basketball started early as a tall 7th grade boy who played the high school team as Robert John Ludwig, and then one season at a community college on Long Island in New York. As Robert grew older and dropped out of college, appearances were limited to pick up games.

But the basketball bug returned 12 years ago, when her daughter from her second marriage, then 7, started playing she signed on as her coach. Ludwig continued coaching other people’s children when her daughter moved on to high school, and still works with hundreds of middle school girls each year.

Her decision to undergo transgender surgery 5 years ago did raise questions, but she says most parents came to accept her decision warmly.

Ludwig, who has been nicknamed ‘Big Sexy’ and ‘Princess’ by her team mates, got her chance to play after helping out coaching the Saints youth team at the beginning of the school year.

One day during a practice she ran in to Coach Cafferata and jokingly asked if he had space on his team for her. Surprisingly, he said he might. After conferring with the team, it was decided Ludwig would indeed join the women’s team.

One major concern was whether her height, muscle and bone structure would give her and unfair advantage over the other female players. However As someone living as a woman and taking female hormones since 2007,Ludwig was eligible to play, since a year of taking female hormones and medication to suppress testosterone cause reduced muscle mass and height.

Ludwig, 51, agrees and says that it’s clear that less muscle and height, and cannot move like the once 24-year-old male player, or 50-year old man.

Ludwig acknowledged that part of her motivation for playing women’s basketball was to be a role model for transgender youth. And her new position seems to be going well – she has already won the battle to play on the court, and can now also find gratitude in the temporary suspensions given to the ill-talking ESPN hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin.

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  1. Transgender player attains college basketball first. Chicago Sun-Times, 12/14/2012.

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