A transgender basketballer who is bidding to play in the NBL1 competition this season has spoken publicly for the first time on the issue and pleaded for critics to remember there is “actually a person” involved.
Lexi Rodgers, who is hoping to play for the Kilsyth Cobras in the women’s semi-professional basketball league, broke her silence on Wednesday when she spoke on former WNBL player Anneli Maley’s podcast, Under the Surface.
“It’s good to have a bit of a voice, now, 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.
“If you don’t get it and you don’t know: one, don’t yell stuff on the internet about it because it’s probably wrong; and, two, go and learn about it.
“Please be nice. It has been a hard week, so just try to remember that there are actual people who are affected by these discussions and these debates.”
Maley and other Australian players such as Chloe Bibby said they would support transgender women playing in the NBL.
Basketball Victoria has completed a 15-page policy statement on the issue which says it will “support participation opportunities for transgender athletes while balancing fairness and inclusion, particularly for Victorian senior representative leagues such as NBL1 South, Big V and CBL”.
It continued: “For the 2023 Basketball Victoria competition year (NBL1 South, Big V and CBL), an assessment process has been formulated and overseen by basketball and medical experts.
“Basketball Victoria acknowledge the process requires continued improvement and collaboration, so the case-by-case assessment process will remain a focus, consulting with medical experts and members of the transgender and gender diverse community.”
Rodgers said she realised transitioning may preclude her from playing the sport but her passion for it remains.
“I’ll always love it,” she said. “When I transitioned it went through my head, ‘if you do this then you’re not going to be playing sport’, and that was tough, but that was the decision I made in my head.
“Every time I’m on the basketball court, every time I’m with the girls, every time I’ve got anything going to do with playing basketball, it’s just a gift.
“I never thought I’d be here. I never thought I’d be playing basketball again.”
The NBL1 competition is a semi-professional basketball league in Australia that sits below the professional NBL and WNBL leagues, and is made up of North, South, East, West and Central conferences.
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