Trans basketball player trying to join all-women’s league urges critics to ‘go and learn’

Lexi Rodgers

Australian basketball star Lexi Rodgers has publicly come out as trans as a decision is made about whether she can play for Victoria club Kilsyth Cobras in a women’s semi-professional league.

Earlier this month, Basketball Victoria confirmed that a trans athlete had applied to join the NBL1 South women’s league, according to The Age.

Rodgers was not named at the time, and her application to play reportedly coincided with Basketball Australia introducing new guidelines for trans and gender-diverse players.

Now, before a decision has been announced, Lexi Rodgers has confirmed she is the player at the centre of the controversy, airing her story in an appearance on the Under The Surface with Anneli Maley podcast.

She explained: “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.

“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.

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“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.”

In the episode, Rodgers also said it took a long time for her to figure out that she was transgender, then to tell her family – originally trying to live her life as a male, out of shame.

She said that she became committed to the sport because it allowed her to create an identity to latch on to and only told people she was transgender after leaving high school. She then made the decision to transition during the pandemic.

Lexi Rodgers said “floodgates opened” immediately after she told one friend.

“It was such a quick move from, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a more feminine guy’ to, ‘I’m trans,'” she said.

That led her back to playing basketball, a decision she made purely because she will “always love” the game.

“I’m committed to playing basketball and I want to make it my career,” Rodgers said, revealing that she hopes to play for her country one day.

Basketball Victoria chief executive Nick Honey has previously said it is important that “all athletes participate in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment”.

He hoped the entire basketball community could “move forward together with a clear understanding of the new [Basketball Australia] guidelines,” The Age reported.

The organisation’s diversity manager told the newspaper “there is still so much to learn in this space” but that basketball prided itself on being an “everyone’s game”.

The Age quoted “a source familiar with the case” as saying players at the club had been asked for their views.

In the podcast, Rodgers said she started training with the Cobras last year and was invited to continue with them – the team being “so welcoming, so lovely, so much better than I ever thought anyone could be in this space”.

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