HomeLearning CenterDawn Staley just won another title — and still had time to stand up for trans athletes

Dawn Staley just won another title — and still had time to stand up for trans athletes

Originally published by Katelyn Burns for MSNBC

This year’s NCAA women’s college basketball tournament was the most watched — and arguably the most successful — women’s college sporting event in history. Millions tuned in to see whether the South Carolina Gamecocks would achieve a perfect championship season, to see how much Iowa Hawkeyes legend Caitlin Clark would light up the scoreboard in her second straight finals appearance and whether her final college game would be a victory. But on Saturday, the eve of the national championship game, which South Carolina won 87-75, a conservative sports reporter asked South Carolina coach Dawn Staley — a legend on the court and the sideline — one of the most asinine questions possible.

Staley was asked whether trans women should be allowed to play women’s basketball.

There were no trans players in the next day’s championship game. There’d been no trans women in the weekend’s Final Four. In fact, there are no openly trans college basketball players in Division I women’s basketball. To call the question irrelevant is an understatement.

Outkick reporter Dan Zaksheske asked anyway. Trolling women’s sports figures about trans women has quickly become what he’s known for as a reporter.

In response, Staley answered the question straightforwardly. “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. That’s my opinion.”

Staley’s answer kicked off a predictable storm on social media, with the usual list of professional transphobes on X kicking off about it on the timeline, along with trans-supportive folks praising Staley. Staley took her place among other legends of women’s sports who openly support trans inclusion in women’s sports, including former professional basketball player Sue Bird and her wife, former U.S. women’s national soccer team legend Megan Rapinoe.

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