The athlete caught in the middle of a transgender storm has reportedly been left waiting for weeks to learn if she will be allowed to play.
Basketball Australia and Basketball Victoria on Tuesday night confirmed the governing bodies are continuing to assess the eligibility of a transgender athlete who has applied to be a registered player in the NBL1 South women’s league — a second tier competition considered one grade below the WNBL.
The athlete wants to play for the Kilsyth Cobras, Kilsyth Basketball boss Will van Poppel has confirmed.
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The association has been supporting the player through the application process, which has included medical and physical testing.
The chief executive said the matter was first raised when the player approached women’s team head coach Hannah Lowe in December before the player was given an opportunity to participate in try-outs ahead of an eligibility assessment.
The player has been able to train with the squad while her eligibility has remained uncertain in recent months, but is not expected to participate in the team’s pre-season Blitz event in Melbourne this weekend, according to The Age.
However, the player is expected to be available for selection ahead of the team’s season opener against Geelong Supercats on April 1, with News Corp reporting the application will be rubber stamped in coming days.
The situation has sparked swirling debate after former NBA star Andrew Bogut voiced his outrage at the pending decision.
Basketball Australia on Tuesday night released a statement asking for patience and hit out at “hurtful” commentary that has surrounded the situation.
“Basketball Australia (BA) prides itself on being a sport for all, ensuring all participants experience a welcoming, fair and inclusive environment,” the association said in a statement.
“It’s been disappointing to see the negative commentary and hurtful language used across social media over the past 24 hours since it was made public that Basketball Victoria had received an application for a transgender athlete to play in the NBL1 South competition.
“We ask for patience and understanding as we support Basketball Victoria in navigating through this complex space with integrity and respect for all involved, and also thank those in the community who have shown sensitivities at this time.”
Bogut meanwhile has continued to criticise the ruling despite a social media backlash following his suggestion the NBL1 South women’s competition was “sacrificing the sanctity of Female Sport in the name of inclusion.
After posting a series of tweets about the subject. Bogut also made further comments on Instagram.
“I’ve got nothing against people who want to transition as adults…. I do have an issue however that you feel that you can infiltrate women’s sport,” Bogut said.
“I put it out because the league and clubs hadn’t been transparent and not only let people within the league know, but members of that club didn’t know and members of other teams didn’t know,” Bogut said.
“So, the fact I’ve put it out and it has caused a s*** storm today proves that they are, s***, someone has spoken about it and I’m not afraid to speak about it.
“I think it needs to be discussed.”
Radio 2CC host Stephen Cenatiempo on Tuesday night voiced support for Bogut when speaking on Sky News.
“Somebody will get hurt,” he said.
“If sport is not the last bastion of fairness in the country, then what is?”
Further details on Tuesday night emerged about the circumstances surrounding the player’s application with one report suggesting the player had to wait until Basketball Victoria established new guidelines surrounding transgender participation before she was able to begin her application.
The Age reports it was only in February that clubs were told about the new framework being introduced as part of the Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse People in Basketball policy.
Under the guidelines Basketball Victoria will treat each application on a case-by-case basis.
In the first process of its kind, a panel is reported to have spent a number of weeks assessing the player’s eligibility.
Van Poppel said he was informed by Basketball Victoria that testosterone level testing was likely to have been one of the physical tests conducted by the panel.
He said in a statement: “A transgender athlete applied for selection in our Kilsyth Cobras NBL1 Women’s team for the 2023 NBL1 South season. Our NBL1 Women’s coach invited the athlete to participate in try -outs ahead of an eligibility assessment, as required by Basketball Victoria.
“Basketball Victoria, in collaboration with Basketball Australia, has developed the Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse People in Basketball to evaluate athlete eligibility. As an affiliate member of Basketball Victoria, we follow the guidelines of our governing body. If the athlete meets eligibility criteria, team selection will be determined by our Kilsyth Cobras NBL1 Women’s Head Coach.
“The athlete has undertaken all the necessary medical and physical testing required to determine eligibility, and we are waiting to hear the outcome from Basketball Victoria. The athlete will continue to train with our squad pending the outcome.
“As always, the wellbeing of everyone involved is our number one priority, and we will continue to support all members of our community.
“Once Kilsyth Basketball are informed of Basketball Australia and Basketball Victoria’s decision on the eligibility of the player, Kilsyth’s NBL1 Women’s coaching staff will then take the next steps in selecting the team.”
Meanwhile, a number of high profile basketball figures have hit out at Bogut’s claims.
Current NBL1 player Chloe Bibby shut down arguments over the debate, insisting she has nothing but respect for the individual.
“As someone who plays in the NBL1, I don’t care what they identify as or their pronouns, she/her, they/them, he/him because regardless I’m still gone try beat their ass on court,” Bibby tweeted.
“They want to play ball & I have nothing but the upmost respect for this person. Go kill it queen.”
Aussie basketball icon Michelle Timms said it was “sad” for the athlete to face such public scrutiny.
“I’d have no problem at all with it,” Timms, a three-time Olympian and Hall of Famer, told News Corp.
“This person has already been through enough in making this decision and for this to blow up the way it has, I feel a lot of empathy for the person.