A transgender basketballer was barred Tuesday from playing in an Australian women’s competition, with the sport’s governing body acknowledging it was a “complex area to navigate.”
Lexi Rodgers had applied to play for semi-professional regional league side the Kilsyth Cobras, sparking debate and leading Basketball Australia to convene a panel of experts to look at the matter.
The panel, which included a medical officer and a sports and exercise physician, ruled Rodgers ineligible.
“As the governing body we acknowledge we’re still on a path of education and understanding,” Basketball Australia said in a statement.
“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, and we thank those involved who have maintained integrity and respect throughout the process.”
It added that the eligibility of transgender players was assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Rodgers said that she was saddened by the outcome but thanked those who supported her.
“I have been humbled by the number of people who have publicly spoken in favor of including me as a player,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Such support fills me with pride, but also sends an honest message of equality to those who are also seeking belonging within sport.”
Rodgers still hopes to be allowed to play at a later date.
“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,” she added.
“I am sad about the potential message this decision sends to trans and gender diverse people everywhere.”
Rodgers inquired about joining Kilsyth late last year and was reportedly invited to participate in try-outs before an eligibility assessment, as required by Basketball Victoria.
Basketball Australia then stepped in.
Right decision by @BasketballAus
In saying that, it is beyond alarming we live in a time where an “expert panel” is needed to make these decisions.
Don’t let the activists try and over complicate what is simple: Women’s sports are for Women. https://t.co/Q2OBaILWGx
—Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) April 18, 2023
There was a mixed response on social media to Tuesday’s ruling, but Australian former NBA star Andrew Bogut called it the “right decision.”
“In saying that, it is beyond alarming we live in a time where an ‘expert panel’ is needed to make these decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Don’t let the activists try and overcomplicate what is simple: Women’s sports are for Women,” added Bogut, who won the 2015 NBA title with the Golden State Warriors.
Many sports are wrestling with similar debates over transgender athletes.
Transgender women are no longer allowed to compete in female track and field events regardless of their levels of testosterone, World Athletics said last month.
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