Trans woman awaits ruling from Australian basketball league
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — A transgender female player is awaiting a decision from Basketball Australia on whether she can compete in a second-tier division of the women's national league, adding to the global debate over the issue in sport.
Lexi Rodgers revealed in a podcast that she is the trans woman applying to play in the NBL1 competition.
Rodgers said she made her identity public so people would see the “trans player” being referred to in mainstream and social media as a person, not an unknown entity.
Rodgers went on the “Under The Surface” podcast with former Women's National Basketball League most valuable player Anneli Maley to speak about her experience since it was revealed about a week ago that there was a trans player competing in the women’s semi-professional basketball league.
“I am Lexi Rodgers, I’m not non-existent,” she said on the podcast. “Because when it’s this hypothetical person and people are making a picture of what a transgender athlete looks like in their head; one, I don’t think it’s me; and two, I think it’s a bit harsh, and people just forget that there’s actually a person."
Rodgers said she was “still the same person” she was before she transitioned, “just in a different wrapping."
Basketball Australia has set up a panel to discuss her application to play in the upcoming NBL1 South season for Melbourne suburban team the Kilsyth Cobras, starting next month. Local media reported the panel met Wednesday to discuss Rodgers' case.
Last week, track and field banned transgender athletes who have transitioned to female from elite women's international competition. The World Athletics Council adopted the same rules as swimming did last year in deciding to bar athletes who have transitioned from male to female and have gone through male puberty.
Rodgers transitioned during the COVID-19 pandemic and said she initially thought it would mean she'd have to give up playing basketball, but was elated at getting the opportunity to return to her “first love.”
“When I transitioned it went through my head, ‘if you do this then you’re not gonna be playing sport’, and that was tough, but that was the decision I made in my head."
Without giving any precise timing, Rodgers said she transitioned over the last few years following a traumatic relationship breakdown and a terminal illness suffered by her mother.
Rodgers said that after having first felt feminine around the age of 10 or 11, she confided with a friend who helped her make her decision to transition.
“It was overwhelming. It was such a quick move from ‘Oh, I’m going to be a more feminine guy’ to ‘I’m trans, there’s no doubt about it’,” Rodgers said.
Her ambition is to play in the top-level Women's National Basketball League and for the Australian national women's team, the Opals.
In the meantime, she's asked for some support and respect.
“Please be nice. It has been a hard week, so just try to remember that there’s actual people who are affected by these discussions and these debates,” Rodgers said.
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