When 18-year-old Mack Beggs won the Texas girls state wrestling championship for the second year in row, it caused quite a stir. Mack Beggs is transgender and identifies as male. And yet, thanks to public high school rules, he’s only allowed to compete under the gender on his birth certificate, which reads female, The Washington Post reports.
There’s a reason many are outraged over Beggs’ wrestling matches — and you should be, too. Here’s what’s most troubling.
1. Mack Beggs started his transition a few years ago with testosterone injections
As The Washington Post notes, Beggs has been in the process of transitioning for a few years now. And in that process, he takes low-level testosterone injections. While hormonal injections are often banned substances, in Beggs’ case, they’re legal because a physician prescribed them.
That doesn’t mean everyone’s keen on the idea, however. News.com.au says many commentators on Twitter are saying it’s unfair for anyone on testosterone to be competing in the women’s class.
Next: Here’s how people feel about him competing in the female class.
2. He’s required to compete in the girls division, despite the opposition of many
To be clear, Beggs wishes to compete with the boys, not with the girls. And news.com.au notes the young wrestler even asked to compete with the males, but he was denied.
Since the beginning of the state tournament, Beggs beat out three tough female competitors and entered the championship with a 32-0 record. Beggs’ mom notes the sport has more to do with “skill and discipline than strength,” so she believes her son’s earned his winnings, despite the rude commentary by others. And some Twitter users have also come to Beggs’ defense, saying he should be encouraged to compete since so many barriers are up against him.
Next: You’ll never believe how the crowd reacted to his huge win.
3. Beggs’ most recent victory was booed by the crowd
Yes, the crowd of adults really did boo the teen while he was competing for his second state title win. Beggs wrestled fellow teen Chelsea Sanchez in the 110-pound weight class and was met with a loud mixed reaction from the crowd, People reports.
In response to the boos, Beggs says, “I’ve worked day in and day out. I’ve been through too much bulls*** for anyone to put me down.” He’s seeing plenty of support online too, with many saying this match proves the birth certificate rule is simply ridiculous.
Next: Beggs even experienced discrimination from fellow athletes.
4. And some girls have even refused to wrestle Beggs before
It turns out Beggs isn’t the only one in the ring who wishes he was competing against males. People explains two of his female competitors forfeited in the regional tournament last season. They feared they’d get hurt by the undefeated Beggs, and thus opted out of trying altogether.
In the recent season, there was just one female wrestler who refused to take on Beggs. Though her coaches and teammates encouraged her to try, she still said no.
Next: Will Beggs keep competing in the future, or has he had enough?
5. Even though he says ‘boys wrestling is hard,’ he’s determined to compete
Beggs has already experienced plenty of opposition, but he’s not giving up the sport he loves. “Boys wrestling is hard. It’s really, really hard,” Beggs tells Dallas Sports News. “If it means wrestling with the guys, I’ll do it.”
In the near future, it turns out he may actually get his wish. USA Today reports the young aspiring wrestler was recruited for a college wrestling program — and here, he’d compete in the men’s division. They wish to recruit him at 138 pounds and with additional testosterone in safe measures, however, so Beggs has his work cut out for him.
Next: The problem doesn’t start and end with Beggs, either.
6. Beggs’ placement in the girls division points to a much larger issue
Beggs may have an opportunity to wrestle with his chosen gender in the future, but that may not be true for all transgender people. The Huffington Post notes another story of a female transgender CrossFit athlete who was not allowed to compete as a woman. She received a very offensive letter by the CrossFit governing body that said their decision was based off of human biology that the athlete must have “intentionally ignored or missed in high school.”
The current medical thought is that after a certain amount of time on hormone replacement therapy, trans individuals should be able to compete in accordance with their chosen gender. It seems not everyone believes this, however.
Next: What will the future hold for trans athletes?
7. Will we see a change in policy following this controversy?
Will Texas public school law change? It might, but there’s no guarantee athletes like Mack Beggs will ever be fully immersed into their communities if people aren’t accepting of their differences.
Beggs’ mother credits Texas high school wrestling for providing her son a safe and healthy outlet and a sense of belonging, Dallas Sports News says. She notes most of his friendships have endured even through the criticism Beggs received after many heard he was taking testosterone. And it seems colleges are accepting of his gender identity as well. If anything’s certain, it has many wondering when rules like this will finally be broken.
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