A transgender female player has been blocked from joining the second-tier of Australia’s women’s national basketball league after a panel ruled her ineligible to compete at the sport’s elite level.
Lexi Rodgers last month revealed in a podcast that she was applying to play for the Kilsyth Cobras, a Melbourne-based club in Australia’s NBL1 South competition.
According to her, she wanted to put a face to the “trans player” being mentioned in local debate in mainstream and social media.
Basketball Australia issued a statement Tuesday saying its three-member expert panel had deemed Rodgers to be ineligible to play in the NBL1 this season.
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The sport’s national governing body said it assessed the eligibility of prospective transgender players on a case-by-case basis at the professional and semiprofessional levels.
“We acknowledge we’re still on a path of education and understanding,” Basketball Australia said. “To aid us in developing our framework, Lexi will provide feedback and advice from her experiences.
“The balance of inclusivity, fairness, and the competitive nature of sport will always be a complex area to navigate.”
Rodgers responded by saying she still hoped to play at the elite level in future and “I hope Basketball Australia understands that this is not the end of my journey as an athlete and that it must not miss future opportunities to demonstrate its values.”
“I am sad about the potential message this decision sends to trans and gender diverse people everywhere,” Rodgers wrote in an Instagram post. “I hope that one day basketball’s governing body can replicate the inclusion and acceptance I have found on the court with my teammates.”
Suzy Batkovic, a three-time Olympian and member of Basketball Australia’s expert panel, thanked Rodgers for cooperating in a process that is a “complex space that continues to evolve.”
“As we continue to develop our own framework for sub-elite and elite competitions, we understand the need to have a clear process and continual education within all layers of the sport so we can best support players, coaches, clubs, associations and the wider basketball community,” Batkovic said.