A few days ago we brought you the story of a 43-year-old man who is playing college basketball.
And if you thought that was unusual, wait until you hear about Gabrielle Ludwig.
This week Eric Prisbell of USA Today introduced the world to Ludwig, a 50-year-old male-turned-female transsexual who is suiting up for the Mission College (Calif.) women's basketball team. After being cleared to play by the California Community College Atheltic Association, Ludwig recently made her debut for the Saints.
After years of standing out, Ludwig feels like she finally fits in on the Mission College team.
"Through camaraderie, we kind of figure out where the hell we are in life," Ludwig told Prisbell. "We as human beings, we just want to be loved."
Thirty years ago Gabrielle was playing basketball for Nassau Community College as Robert Ludwig. At 6-foot-8 Ludwig was a good player, but she says he was immature and only lasted one semester on the team.
Ludwig joined the Navy in 1984, where he was an aviation anti-submarine warfare technician and served in Desert Storm.
After leaving the Navy, Ludwig struggled with her identity. She was dressing as a woman and taking female hormones, but she was still stuck in the body of a man. Ludwig said those years were some of the most difficult of her life.
"You look in the mirror and you have breasts and are developing a woman's body, and you have male genitalia," Ludwig says. "You kind of feel freakish. It's like you are stuck in the abyss."
In July 2012, Ludwig underwent the transsexual operation to become female. Shortly afterwards she discussed with Mission College coach Corey Cafferata the possibility of joining the team. Cafferata consulted with the school's athletic director, who got in touch with the California Community College Athletic Association. It was determined that Ludwig would have to enroll in online courses and produce a new birth certificate to verify her sex-change operation.
Ludwig practiced with the team before everything was finalized, and last week she entered her first game. The Saints were playing the College of the Siskiyous at the Contra Costa "Comets" Tournament in San Pablo, Calif. Ludwig played seven minutes, scoring three points and grabbing several rebounds. She is believed to be the only individual to play both men's and women's college basketball.
Not everyone was pleased to see Ludwig on the court. Kevin Casey, the father of a Siskiyous player, thought Ludwig should not have been able to play.
"I don't want her in the same locker room as my daughter," Casey told USA Today. "That's a man with girls. Take Shaq and cut his (penis) off and we'll put him out there with the girls. What's the difference? You have daughters out there. Mine might be a Tom boy, but she is all girl. They let too much (expletive) go by. Was it Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve?"
For her part, Ludwig is not worried about the naysayers. Her team has taken her in, and that is all that matters to her.
"This is my home," Ludwig said. "This is the team I fit in. I am that missing puzzle piece. It fits."
For Ludwig's entire story, see here.
(H/T to USA Today)