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South Carolina coach Dawn Staley offered support for transgender athletes on Saturday. Ahead of her team's matchup with Iowa in the women's national championship game on Sunday, Staley was asked for her position on transgender athletes participating in sports during her media availability. 

"Damn, you got deep on me, didn't you?" Staley said. "I'm on the opinion of, if you're a woman, you should play. 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. You want me to go deeper?

When asked directly if transgender women should be able to participate in women's sports, Staley was emphatic and acknowledged the backlash she would receive. 

"Yes, yes," Staley said. "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, and I'm OK with that. I really am."

Iowa  coach Lisa Bluder was asked the same set of questions during her availability later in the day, but declined to answer. 

"I understand it's a topic that people are interested in," Bluder said. "But today my focus is on the game tomorrow, my players. 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."

Whether or not transgender athletes should be allowed to participate in sports has become a major topic across the country in recent years. 

In April 2023, the federal government got involved when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit people who were assigned male at birth from participating in girl's and women's teams of schools that get money from the federal government. The legislation, titled Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, was sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) and passed on a party-line 219-203 vote. 

No action has yet been taken on the it in the Democrat-led Senate, where it is unlikely to pass. The White House said at the time that the current administration "strongly opposes" the bill, and if it ever reached President Joe Biden's desk, he would veto it. "Politicians should not dictate a one-size-fits-all requirement that forces coaches to remove kids from their teams," the White House said in a statement

The NCAA's policy regarding the participation of transgender athletes was first enacted in 2010 and most recently updated in 2022. It is now sport-specific and "aligns transgender student-athlete participation with the Olympic Movement" in an attempt to balance "fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete."