Trans woman Lexi Rodgers has been blocked from competing in the women's NBL1 South by Basketball Australia ©Getty Images

Basketball Australia (BA) has ruled transgender player Lexi Rodgers cannot compete in elite women's basketball.

Rodgers had hoped to play for the Kilsyth Cobras in the semi-professional women's NBL1 South league this season, but a panel led by BA chief medical officer and Commonwealth Games medical advisor Peter Harcourt has deemed she cannot do so.

BA Board member and three-time women's basketball Olympic medallist Suzy Batkovic and associate professor Diana Robinson were also on the panel.

Batkovic explained the reasoning for the decision.

"Firstly, on behalf of Basketball Australia I’d like to acknowledge and sincerely thank Lexi for her cooperation, understanding and patience throughout this process - it’s a complex space that continues to evolve," she said.

"While Lexi is understandably disappointed with the outcome, I know she’ll continue to support her NBL1 South team throughout the season and be an active member of the basketball community.

"As we continue to develop our own framework for sub-elite and elite competitions, we understand the need to have a clear process and continual education within all layers of the sport so we can best support players, coaches, clubs, associations and the wider basketball community.

"I also want to make it clear because it’s important, that while this particular application was not approved based on criteria for elite competition, Basketball Australia encourages and promotes inclusivity at community level."

BA assesses the eligibility of elite transgender players on a case-by-case basis balancing "a range of factors", and said Rodgers will provide feedback on the process to help develop a framework.

She has expressed her disappointment at the decision on Instagram, describing basketball as "one of the loves of my life".

Three-time women's basketball Olympic medallist Suzy Batkovic, left, was on the Basketball Australia panel that decided Lexi Rodgers' case ©Getty Images
Three-time women's basketball Olympic medallist Suzy Batkovic, left, was on the Basketball Australia panel that decided Lexi Rodgers' case ©Getty Images

"I sought a different outcome from Basketball Australia," Rodgers wrote.

"I participated fully and in good faith with the process and eligibility criteria.

"Consistent with the views expressed by so many, I firmly believe I have a place as an athlete in women’s basketball.

"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.

"I am sad about the potential message this decision sends to trans and gender diverse people everywhere.

"I hope that one day basketball's governing body can replicate the inclusion and acceptance I have found on the court with my teammates.

"I hope to one day be playing elite women’s basketball in the future and will continue to work on making the sport I love a place for all."

The debate on transgender participation in women's sport has become increasingly polarised.

Critics have argued banning athletes from the category with which they identify is discriminatory, but supporters say it safeguards fairness in women's sport.

In November 2021, the International Olympic Committee approved new guidelines which granted increased flexibility to International Federations to set their own policy, with President Thomas Bach insisting there cannot be a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

In June last year, the International Swimming Federation - now World Aquatics - took the decision to severely restrict the participation of transgender athletes in women's events.

World Athletics last month banned transgender athletes from its women's competitions.

There have been national controversies in Australia surrounding transgender athletes' participation in sport.

Football Australia is seeking a high-performance inclusion policy aiming to "support the inclusion of transgender and gender-diverse people in football", with a Working Group tasked with providing recommendations before this year's FIFA Women's World Cup being co-hosted with New Zealand.