It's been a rollercoaster ride in sports news this year. While the University of Connecticut women's basketball team recently broke the glass ceiling beating the UCLA men's team's long-held winning streak, here is just a slice of some of 2010's biggest stories for lesbians and trans people in sports.
One coach whose name was emblazoned all over the Web was Belmont University women's soccer coach Lisa Howe. When she told the athletic department of her school that her partner was due to give birth to their child, she was allegedly forced out of her coaching position, told that there was no place on the university's staff for gay people. Since then, athletes, students, faculty, alumni, and even the president of the university have reacted in solidarity with Howe.
Female professional golfers voted November 30 to allow transgender women the opportunity to tee off. This comes after Lana Lawless, 57, sued the Ladies' Professional Golf Association and the Long Drivers of America because she wanted to compete in the annual long drive competition. She won the event in 2008, but was turned away from playing this year, because the Long Drivers of America decided to change its policies to reflect the LPGA's, which stated that players could only compete in the league if they were certifiably "female at birth." The members of the LPGA then voted to change their constitution, welcoming transgender female golfers.
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When Kye Allums came out to teammates and coaches, he probably did not want it to be such a big deal. But his coming out as a transgender male while still competing on the George Washington University women's basketball team opened a dialogue about transgender people in sports. So much so that the NCAA, the governing body for college sports, announced clarified guidelines for transgender athletes.
In May, President Barack Obama declared the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team the best sports team in the U.S. after UConn won the national championship. The Huskies attended the White House for a ceremony to celebrate their big win. The team started with a 78-game winning streak this fall and in December surpassed UCLA's record of 88-straight wins.
Former West Point cadet Katie Miller made headlines when she came out publicly and then left the prestigious military academy because she did not agree with the law barring gay people from openly serving in the military. There, Miller was at the top of her class athletically. This year, Miller decided to transfer to Yale, where she is currently playing on the women's rugby team. When Yale faced off against West Point this year, Miller said the experience was mostly respectful, but she still faced some hostility by onlookers.
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Track and Field
Caster Semenya has been a big deal in this sport for a couple of years. After winning the the 800-meter race in the 2009 track and field world championship in Berlin, a question about her gender launched an 11-month investigation and testing to determine if she is female. Semenya was cleared to compete as a woman in July 2010, just in time, but she was viewed with suspicion when she was still beating her peers. Canadian sprinter Diane Cummins criticized the International Association of Athletics Federations for allowing her to run, and Italy's Elisa Cusma Piccione simply said, "For me, she is a man."
Dutch lesbian speed skater Ireen Wüst beat the odds, winning the gold in the women's 1,500-meter event with 1:56:89. "I can't describe how happy I am," she said after her big win." I don't have the words for it. I think I'm the happiest person on earth right now."
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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova's year of ups and downs started with her February diagnosis with breast cancer, which she described as her "personal 9/11." After a biopsy, lumpectomy, and six months of radiation treatments in Paris (all while continuing her commentary duties for the Tennis Channel), Navratilova came back swinging. Shortly after finishing her last round of treatment, Navratilova went back to competing, capturing the French Open senior women's and Wimbledon women's invitational doubles titles this summer with Jana Novotna. The tennis great ended the year with an unsuccessful attempt to climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, but she said from her Nairobi, Kenya, hospital bed that she was happy to be a part of the 27-member team heading toward the top.
Power player Serena Williams tied lesbian icon Billie Jean King's record by winning her fifth Australian Open title in January. King was in the stands to watch the 28-year-old Williams defeat Justine Henin in three sets to win her 12th career major title. Williams said she "felt really special" for sharing the title with King because "in my heart of hearts, I've been going for it and I haven't been able to quite achieve it. Billie Jean is a really big mentor of mine." King told reporters that when Williams "plays her best, she's the best ever."