Sunday 19th March, 2023
Re: Fairness in Women’s Basketball
Dear Basketball Australia:
The International Consortium on Female Sport (ICFS) calls on Basketball Australia, and its member leagues and state associations, including Basketball Victoria, to eliminate discrimination against female players, and restore fairness to the female category in basketball.
Reports of the potential inclusion of three males in the semi-professional women’s NBL1 South basketball league will undermine fairness for female basketball players.
In developing your new assessment system for transgender and gender diverse players, we understand that you did not consult with female athletes, or women’s groups who advocate on their behalf. Given it is the female sex who have been disadvantaged by sporting policies for generations, this is hugely disappointing.
Your community participation policy allows for people to play in their nominated gender category, while ignoring the implications to females having to compete with or against male bodied athletes, despite their known biological advantage. It also fails to acknowledge the feelings and safety of females who will have to share changing rooms with male bodies.
Your eligibility criteria for elite and sub-elite basketball participation states it works on a case-by-case basis, but then is immediately followed up by anti-discrimination clauses, which combine sex with gender identity. We ask, is discrimination against your female participants on the basis of their biological sex, included in these clauses? And if so, what course of action will female players, their coaches, or parents be able to take if they wish to raise a discrimination complaint that won’t impact their participation or opportunities within the sport?
All scientific evidence shows that testosterone suppression in adults cannot reverse the significant male differences in morphology and sport performance. The effects of both male genetics and male body responsiveness to androgens are permanent. But while your policy allows for males to exploit the advantages of their testosterone filled bodies in the female category, you still apply Anti-Doping requirements that would exempt female athletes from using this naturally occurring male hormone to gain any advantage.
A clear illustration that your policy prioritizes the desires of males at the expense of females in their own category is that female players who identify as trans and take testosterone will be rightly exempt from the female category, however males who identify as women will be allowed to compete in it despite having benefited from years of testosterone-fueled development.
ICFS calls on Basketball Australia to reconsider their new guidelines and
consult with both the ICFS and Save Women’s Sport Australasia to ensure scientific accuracy and to include the voice of women in this matter so better options for inclusion can be found.
Everyone in Basketball Australia knows the differences between male and female performance in speed, strength, and power. Whether athletes are the best in the world, on a junior talent pathway, or masters of all ages; male performance advantage is clear. It is not possible to remove this performance advantage.
Strict guidelines that protect the integrity of the women’s category and fairness for the female athlete must be adopted. Eligibility for the women’s category must be restricted to those who are biologically female. Otherwise, the women’s competition will cease to exist. The women’s category essentially becomes a mixed sex or open category where female athletes will become a dwindling cohort. We know this because the NBA is an open category, yet no woman has ever appeared in the regular season or even in an exhibition game.
On behalf of female basketballers from around Australia and the world who are concerned that their fairness, safety, and opportunities in basketball are in jeopardy, we urge you to take this moment to reconsider and protect women’s basketball for future generations of female participants. We ask that you find better options for inclusion that don’t come at the potential exclusion for over 50% of the population.
Yours in Sport,
Founding Members, ICFS