[cnnvideo url=’http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/12/19/pkg-transgender-plays-college-basketball.kovr’ inline=’true’]
STOCKTON Calif. – He served in Desert Storm, but now he is a she playing basketball for a Northern California junior college.
According to Steve Large, reporting for KOVR, the 51-year-old, 6-foot-8 transgender player is the center of attention both on the court and off.
This one is a game-changer, Delta College of Stockton facing a 6-foot-8 opponent, and in her case, change is a big part of her game.
It’s a breakthrough on the basketball court. Gabrielle Ludwig is a woman who up until July was a man. She joined Santa Clara’s Mission College basketball team Dec. 1.
Ludwig’s story has been featured in USA Today, the Huffington Post, Chicago Sun-Times and others. Was she ready for the barrage of media?
“No, I wasn’t,” she said. “This is kind of unexpected. I think that people who are LGBT, they should be able to be themselves, even though there might be a million people telling them no, don’t do it. Follow your heart.
At 6-8, the move was embraced by her teammates.
“It was easy. We didn’t have to think about it,” one teammate said. “We didn’t think about her being a transsexual, She’s 6-7. Who doesn’t want that?”
Opponents are suddenly facing a tall order of talent.
“Community college, you don’t see a lot of players over 6-1, 6-2,” said Delta coach Gina Johnson.
“You know, I just try to create different moves when I get in the paint or do my outside game a lot more,” one Delta player said of facing Ludwig.
In the game on this night facing Delta College, those in the crowd were getting their first glimpse of Ludwig in action.
“I’d say it’s fair,” one male fan said. “She’s not really dominating or anything like that. She made her choice. They have no choice but to let her play.”
“I don’t know how fair it is. It’s something I’ve never seen before,” said another.
Gabrielle Ludwig is taking center stage on the basketball court and drawing reactions from the court of public opinion.
“I know who I am,” she said. “There’s a lot of layers to who I am and I’m proud of myself.”
She only joined this term two weeks ago and hasn’t ruled out playing at a four-year program but her stat line on Tuesday was a very modest two points and two rebounds. Delta won the game going away.