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Transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in women’s sports, says South Carolina coach Dawn Staley – Chicago Tribune


CLEVELAND — South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley said Saturday that she believes transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in women’s sports.

Staley was asked at the news conference the day before her unbeaten Gamecocks play Iowa for the national championship for her opinion on the issue.

“I’m of the opinion that if you’re a woman, you should play,” Staley said. “If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports, or vice versa, you should be able to play.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder was later asked the same question.

“I understand it’s a topic that people are interested in, but today my focus is on the game tomorrow, my players,” Bluder said. “It’s an important game we have tomorrow, and that’s what I want to be here to talk about. But I know it’s an important issue for another time.”

The topic has become a hot-button issue among conservative groups and others who believe transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete on girls’ and women’s sports teams. Last month, more than a dozen current and former women’s college athletes filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA, accusing the college sports governing body of violating their rights by allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports.

At least 20 states have approved a version of a blanket ban on transgender athletes playing on K-12 and collegiate sports teams statewide, but a Biden administration proposal to forbid such outright bans is set to be finalized this year after multiple delays and much pushback. As proposed, the rule would establish that blanket bans would violate Title IX, the landmark gender-equity legislation enacted in 1972.

In 2022, the NCAA revised its policies on transgender athlete participation in what it called an attempt to align with national sports governing bodies. The third phase of the revised policy adds national and international sports governing body standards to the NCAA’s rules and is scheduled to be implemented Aug. 1.

Staley, a prominent voice for women’s sports and a two-time AP Coach of the Year, said she understood the political nature of the question and the reaction her answer could cause.

“So now the barnstormer people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me on one of the biggest days of our game,” she said. “And I’m OK with that. I really am.”

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