Transgender athlete applies to join women’s basketball league
A transgender woman has applied to play in the semi-professional women’s NBL1 South league, reigniting the debate about fairness and inclusion in sport.
Basketball Victoria confirmed on Monday the athlete is in the final stages of eligibility to join the league’s 2023 season, which comes as the governing body announced new guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender-diverse players.
A transgender athlete has applied to play in a Victorian semi-professional women’s basketball league. Credit:The Age
In a statement, the sporting body said the athlete had submitted to medical and physical testing under the new assessment process. A decision is yet to be made.
Former NBA champion Andrew Bogut drew attention to the application in a tweet on Monday.
“Are you ok with sacrificing the sanctity of Female Sport in the name of “inclusion”? Bogut said.
In the tweet Bogut questioned the decision, which at the time had not been confirmed by Basketball Victoria
While the framework for determining the eligibility of transgender players is still being developed by the sporting code, Basketball Victoria has introduced an assessment process for the 2023 competition year, which encompasses the NBL1 South, Big V and CBL leagues, which are the tiers below the WNBL.
That assessment process was developed by basketball and medical experts, and members of the transgender and gender diverse community. It requires medical and basketball experts to assess the eligibility of players’ applications on a case-by-case basis.
Basketball Victoria boss Nick Honey said the new guidelines, which were developed with Basketball Australia, aimed to be inclusive, while ensuring the safety of those involved.
“It is important that all athletes participate in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and we hope all in the community can move forward together with a clear understanding of the new guidelines” Honey said.
“Basketball has long prided itself as ‘everyone’s game’ and this remains the case, particularly at the community level. We recognise there is still much to learn in this space, the new guidelines confirm the inclusion and safety of the LGBITQA+ community into all levels of basketball being an imperative,” Basketball Victoria’s diversity manager, Sheena Atkin, said.
In 2021, Basketball Australia released a similar policy, which determined participation of transgender athletes at an elite and sub-elite level would be determined on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the IOC, FIBA, or other applicable governing body criteria.
Debate surrounding transgender players competing in sporting codes was prompted last year when FINA, the global swimming governing body, effectively banned transgender women from competing in women’s events.
FINA members adopted a new “gender inclusion policy” that only permits swimmers who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.
World Rugby has a general negative stance on member countries allowing trans women to play; however, the French Rugby Federation allowed transgender women to compete in 2021.
More to come
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