A transgender female basketball player was barred from competing against biological females in the WNBL1 South women’s semi-professional basketball league in Australia on Tuesday.
Basketball Australia, the governing body for the sport in the country, ruled that Lexi Rodgers is ineligible to compete in elite or sub-elite basketball, including for the Kilsyth Cobras. The Cobras play in NBL1 South, which serves as a lower-tier league below the National Basketball League (NBL) and Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).
“Firstly, on behalf of Basketball Australia I’d like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Lexi for her cooperation, understanding and patience throughout this process – it’s a complex space that continues to evolve,” Basketball Australia director Suzy Batkovic said in a news release.
“While Lexi is understandably disappointed with the outcome, I know she’ll continue to support her NBL1 South team throughout the season and be an active member of the basketball community.
“As we continue to develop the 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.
“I also want to make it clear because it’s important, that while this particular application was not approved based on criteria for elite (or sub-elite) competition, Basketball Australia encourages and promotes inclusivity at community level where the balance of physical activity, health and wellbeing and social benefits can outweigh the competitive nature of sport.”
Basketball Australia convened a panel led by Dr. Peter Harcourt, associate professor Diana Robinson and Batkovic to determine Rodgers’ eligibility. The governing body said it evaluates transgender athletes’ availability on a “case-by-case basis accounting for and balancing a range of factors, and has implemented this process on behalf of Basketball Victoria in this matter.”
Rodgers said she was disappointed with the determination in a statement posted on Instagram.
“I sought a different outcome from Basketball Australia,” Rodgers wrote. “I participated fully and in good faith with the process and eligibility criteria. Consistent with the views expressed by so many, I firmly believe I have a place as an athlete in women’s basketball.
“Basketball is one of the great loves of my life. Like so many people who play every week across the country, the basketball court is where I feel safe, where I feel free, and where I feel I belong.
“The backing of the players, coaches, my club and grassroots members has been overwhelming. I am so grateful for their desire to have me as part of their community. Such support fills me with pride, but also sends an honest message of equality to those who are also seeking belonging within sport.”
Rodgers said she would continue to advocate for transgender athletes.