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Last week there was a local story in the Contra Costa Times about a 50-year old transwoman who competes in basketball for Mission College, which is a junior college in Santa Clara, California.

Gabrielle Ludwig is 6'8" and weighs 220 pounds, was born in Germany, has tattoos on her arms and legs, is a veteran of Desert Storm, and once played for Nassau Community College (on Long Island) as a male in 1980.

Gabbi, as she is called, had sex reassignment surgery (gender confirmation surgery, if you prefer...or a sex change, if that's easier for you to comprehend) this past July.  She is also a father and a scientist at Roche Molecular Diagnostics in Pleasanton, CA.

In order to compete, she had to obtain an updated birth certificate, which she did with the help of Mission College's athletic director and coach.  She obtained the birth certificate declaring her to be female on November 30 and was granted two years of eligibility.

Gabbi is not the first transwoman to play community college basketball in the state.  Cosumnes River College had a transwoman player two years ago...with little uproar.

She just happens to be a bit taller than everyone else.  What if she was born a female and 6-foot-5?  She's a little older than other community college players, so that's probably to her disadvantage.

--Dale Murray, Coast Conference commissioner

That's an awfully large women and I'm not sure how to answer that because all sports have unique individuals in them.  Is it fair that all professional sports athletes have to face Peyton Manning each year?"  I don't think, frankly, fairness enters into it.

--Logan Mc Kechnie, Central Valley Conference commissioner

I just see it as a squad with a low post player over 6 feet.  There are hundreds of female basketball players that tall.  My opinion is that people making comments about it being unfair don't understand the transgender athlete.

--Helen Carroll, National Center for Lesbian Rights and former national championship University of North Carolina-Asheville women's basketball coach

I think it's great.  It revolutionizes sports a little bit to open-mindedness.

--Ricardo Thompson, whose deaf daughter is a guard on the team

It ain't right.  For one, she's 50 years old, and No. 2 ... come on, these girls out here are young.  Start your own league if you want to do that.

I don't want to see a 50-year-old man in the locker room.  I mean, you're born a guy, right?  I'm not sure if all the parts are there or what.

I don't support gay rights, but I'm not going to condemn them, it's their own choice.  But this isn't about personal rights, this is a team.

--Ray Galli, Folsom, who said he would pull his daughter off the team if Ludwig tried to join it

Mission has historuically been a very bad team.  The team had ceased to exist three times in seven years while running up a 90 game losing streak.

Coach Cory Cafferta took over in 2009 and the team has been in the playoffs the past two seasons.  Cafferta learned of Ludwig's interest in playing at a fundraiser in August.  

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 boogeyman and love life and raise kids just like you, 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 because I see an injustice.

Ludwig played 7 minutes against Contra Costa, scoring 3 points and grabbing 3 rebounds, while missing all five of her shots from the field.  Contra Costa won, 67-62.

Obviously, she's a very good player and she's going to be a force as things go on.

--Tom Powers, head coach of College of the Siskiyous

When asked if he thought it was fair for her to play, Powers had this:
That's a hard question.  It's one of those things; if she wasn't good or tall, would it be such a big deal?  She's definitely changed things.
I think at 6-foot-8, if she does some work, I don't see why the WNBA wouldn't draft her and give her a shot.

--Cafferta

But that wasn't the end of it.  ESPN Radio hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin decided Ludwig needed to be mocked for even attempting to play.  

They referred to Gabbi as a "he/she" and "it" while trashing her for her appearance.  Czaban's conclusion was that transgender athletes should not be allowed to play sports.

Whatever you’ve got to do to scratch that inner itch and quell those inner demons, that’s fine.  But don’t go playing sports then.  And don’t go playing sports saying, ‘but I’ve go the rights of everyone else.'

--Steve Czaban

The horrific comments by ESPN’s Radio’s Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin show a level of disrespect and harmful rhetoric that is inexcusable.  They called Gabrielle Ludwig, transgender  California Community College student-athlete, “it”.  This and their entire transphobic rant shows a level of ignorance and just plain ‘meanness’ that I try to stay away from.  Unfortunately, the many transgender sports participants I have had the privilege to work with, are not shielded from hateful people such as Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin.  I would think that a sports network that espouses respect for LGBT people will see the harm that is occurring with this rant, be forthcoming with an apology and take immediate action against these two so-called sports radio professionals.

--Helen Carroll

On Monday the two hosts issued a brief apology (10 seconds, only for calling Ludwig "it"), after ESPN Radio's vice-president for programming Chuck Sapienza described their remarks as "extremely insensitive".   OutSports has called it "among the the least sincere non-apologies in history."
The only things they’re really sorry for are being caught, and also how overly sensitive the faggots and the trannies are these days.  I’m sure they were rolling their eyes with every word of their non-apology.  You don’t say what they said without meaning every word of it — This apology doesn’t change that, it reinforces it.

--OutSports

The two are not employees of ESPN and made the comments on an affiliated radio station that controls its own local content.  The offensive commentary goes completely against ESPN’s company culture and values.  We have expressed our significant dissatisfaction to the station’s management.

--Josh Krulewicz, ESPN spokesman

Czaban and Pollin have been temporarily suspended.
In a statement Tuesday, the station said the announcers "crossed the line" and "such intolerance and insensitivity will never be tolerated by this station," adding they will be "temporarily removed" from the air.

--Huffington Post

Originally posted to TransAction on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:53 AM PST.

Also republished by The Wide World of Sports and LGBT Kos Community.

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