If you had one opportunity to tell the world something about you, what would it be?
For Kaylin Wikoff, who’s transgender, it’s she wants to be judged for who she is, not what she is.
She started shooting when she was 10 with her father’s direction. What started as a male bonding with her father, led her to a passion. She soon went under the wing of Ricky Peters. He mentored her until his retirement from the game. When I asked Kaylin how she got her name “The Gun,” she smiled and told me about her last match with Ricky. Nearing his retirement from the game he made her a proposition. The wager was her $100 to his nickname, “The Gun.”
Her game has not changed from the time she was 21. She’s made minor tweaks to her stroke and stance, but the real change came to her mentally, she says, “during her transition. “
She plays aggressive, knows when to play safe, when to hide the cue ball, and when to LET someone have a shot. I told her she has nerves of steel, like ice, and if she is at all nervous, it doesn’t show. She told me it may not show, but she, like the rest of us, does get nervous.
She began playing APA when she was 21. She worked her way through the ranks starting as a 4. Then, two years as a 5, and two years as a 6. She finally became a 7 in 2001 with her first trip to Vegas and finished 13th in the nation.
She started her transition April 15, 2015. Shortly thereafter, a friend of hers, Dave Carr, asked her to join him for scotch doubles. As she says “then she began jumping through hoops to be qualified as transgender.” At this point all she needed was to be listed as a female on her driver’s license and a letter from her doctor.
This past year Kaylin decided to join the WPBA, and this required more. So what are the requirements?
WPBA lists its requirements to be eligible : a letter from your healthcare provider and therapist, their license and certificate number, and a test to show the athlete’s sex hormones are within the medically acceptable range for a female.
I asked Kaylin if she plays better, now that she is finally able to be herself. She says that her game has actually declined a little bit. She doesn’t blame nerves. She’s aware of the debate that men are better pool players; that it’s a proven fact. She says “you can put Jason Shaw up against my idol, Karen Corr, and she’s not going to beat him. Men have that killer instinct.”
So does Kaylin have that advantage over other women in the WPBA? She claims that once she committed and was all in to her transformation, something changed. While she can’t pinpoint it, her belief was that she never possessed that instinct. She’s always identified as a woman; therefore it never developed, so the argument is moot.
I had the privilege of watching Kaylin play the WPBA Championship Tour at Zingales’ Billiards. While her game was great, her comradery amongst the women was so natural. I asked her if she’s ever met any adversity on the tour, and she said no, aside from the occasional snicker. For the most part, only her close circle knew of her journey. She’s aware there is a debate and sees both sides of it, but believes that if people understand the degree of the changes she’s been through, there will be more tolerance and growth in the WPBA.
I watched Kaylin between matches. She sat very observant, in front of the match board watching with style and grace. To look at her, you would not know the struggle and challenges she faced to be on this tour or to create the life she’d always imagined for herself. Not a transgender, just a woman, a CueSport Women’s Tour Champion.
A special thank you to JD’s Cues & Brews Springfield, IL
Heather Gilmore Petie’s Place Springfield, IL
and Darlene D’Nero for sponsoring Kaylin’s trip to the WPBA Championships
Kaylin wears the pink cancer armband to represent her mother in law, Geneva Clark, who lost her fight to lung cancer this past November.
Sponsored by Jacoby Custom Cues
Author: Kollet Probst
Editor: Shaylyn Troop