Journey to becoming himself
By Ashlee Buhler
Basketball has been a major part of Layne Ingram’s life since a young age.
The LCC women’s basketball coach recently announced a transition from female to male, and now wishes to be known as Layne instead of Alayne.
Born and raised in Lansing, Ingram played basketball for four years at Waverly High School and eventually went on to become a standout player at the University of Michigan.
After retiring as a player, Ingram followed in her father’s footsteps and began coaching — a job that would take her around the country for about 10 years.
It was during that time when Ingram realized something wasn’t quite right.
“I wasn’t playing basketball anymore and I wasn’t in the public eye,” the 36-year-old Ingram said. “I was just being a regular person and starting to live my life (as an adult).
“As I continued to evolve into a grown-up and get more responsibility, I realized there was something missing.”
Over the last few years, which included a promotion to associate dean of Academic & Career Pathways at LCC, Ingram did a lot of reflecting.
“I’ve really been thinking about what is going to make me happy and I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching for what’s been missing,” said Ingram, who was hired as LCC women’s basketball coach last spring. “People say that I’ve always been a tomboy, but for me it wasn’t that.”
The decision to transition from female to male was made last year. The first person Ingram told was her wife, Tonya.
“It’s funny because when I brought this up to her she just kind of laughed and said, ‘Well to be honest, when I first met you I thought you were already taking [hormones],” Ingram said with a laugh.
After receiving support from her wife, whom Ingram married in Sept. 30, 2016, the journey from female to male began. It started with a lot of research and finding resources.
One of Ingram’s biggest resources has been a friend named Daniel — a former LCC employee who had also made the transition from female to male.
“There are so many questions that I text him and just say, ‘Did you do this? How did you feel?’” Ingram said.
Meeting with a therapist was one of the first steps in making the transition. Once the therapist writes a letter of support for hormone replacement therapy and/or surgery, a referral is made to a doctor and the transition process can get underway.
In February 2017, Ingram began taking hormone replacement shots, which he now takes every week.
While some changes have been gradual, others have happened very quickly.
“My voice dropped pretty quick, although I’ve always kind of had a deep voice.” Ingram said. “Your body starts to change a little bit … you certainly get a little hairier, that’s for sure.”
Going through the transition process has been a challenge in and of itself.
“There are a lot of people who have questions or who don’t understand,” Ingram said. “I think the adjustment for other people, and really trying to gain an understanding of why or how, has been challenging.”
While the journey hasn’t been easy, Ingram has received plenty of support from the LCC community, including numerous emails with stories and support from co-workers.
Mike Ingram, who is the longtime coach of the LCC men’s basketball team and the father of Layne, shared his words of support.
“Alayne has always been proud of who she is and what she stands for, and I’ve always been supportive,” Mike Ingram said. “Me and Alayne have always had a special bond, and nothing will ever change that.”
The women’s basketball team has been supportive as well.
“I was really happy and pleasantly surprised that it didn’t change the way they looked at me,” Ingram said. “They still wanted to be a part of a program that was going to be accepting and believe that we’re teammates, no matter what.”
Overall, Ingram said he believes LCC has done a great job with showing support for the LGBTQ community and wants students to know they are not alone.
“One of the reasons I’m coming out so publicly is because I want our students here to know that we are a place that is accepting and we work very hard for you to feel safe and invited. This environment is one that you can thrive in.
“I want our students to know that I’m here. I work here every single day and I’m always open and willing to talk about issues, concerns or how we can make things better. Even if you’re dealing with people that you feel won’t accept you — I will,” Ingram said.
Ingram’s advice for those who may be struggling with personal issues is to follow their heart.
“You have to live your life and be you,” he said. “It’s not easy, but taking the journey to becoming yourself is the most rewarding thing you could ever do.”