The South Carolina coach was asked about transgender women in sports — and her answer went viral

South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley went viral this weekend for stating unequivocally that transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in women's sports.

Staley said she supported transgender athletes during a news conference before the Gamecocks' NCAA Tournament championship game after being pressured by Dan Zaksheske, a reporter for the conservative sports website OutKick.

Zaksheske asked Staley for her opinion on the inclusion of “biological males” in women’s sports.

“If you’re a woman, you should play,” Staley replied. “If you consider yourself a woman and want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play.”

Staley seemed to recognize the significance of her statement and perhaps the attempt to bait her – but said she didn't care. “Now the mass storm of people will flood my timeline and distract me on one of the biggest days of our game, and I'm okay with that. I really am,” she said.

The next day, the Gamecocks won the NCAA women's basketball championship, defeating Iowa 87-75.

Transgender athletes' participation in sports at all levels – from elementary school to college sports – is under attack from conservative lawmakers and organizations.

Staley's comments came just two days before a new blow to transgender inclusion in sports.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which manages approximately 83,000 student-athletes, made the announcement on Monday a guideline which essentially bans all transgender athletes from participating in women's sports. It is believed that it is the first university sport Organization to consolidate this policy.

Under the new policy, all NAIA student-athletes will be able to participate in men's sports. But for women's sports, the policy states that only student-athletes whose “biological sex is female” can participate, as long as they have not started “masculinizing hormone therapy.”

The policy, approved 20-0 by the NAIA Council of Presidents, will go into effect on August 1, 2024.

The NCAA, on the other hand has admitted transgender athletes compete if they follow the guidelines of international sports federations, but are generally quiet about pressure to withdraw events from states that ban trans athletes from competition.

“College sports are the premier stage for women's sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women's sports and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes at all NCAA championships,” the NCAA said in a released statement Hours after the NAIA announcement.

The existence of transgender athletes has dominated the news since 2019, when the Alliance Defending Freedom — a conservative legal group that has crafted many anti-trans laws — first sued a Connecticut school for allowing transgender athletes to participate in sports .

To date, 24 statesAccording to the Movement Advancement Project, transgender women and girls have passed a law banning transgender women and girls from participating in women's sports.


Anna Harden

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