Mack Beggs (center) with coaches – Photo: Facebook.
“I put too much blood, sweat and tears, I put too much B.S. into this journey that I wanted to come out on top. In my heart, I am a champion. No matter who you put in front of me, I am a champion.”
–Euless Trinity High School wrestler Mack Beggs, the repeat winner of Texas’ Class 6A 110-pound girls title in wrestling. Beggs made history last year when he became the first transgender wrestler to win a state title. Because the Texas University Interscholastic League’s policy requires high school students to compete in sports based only on the gender on their birth certificate, Beggs has been forced to compete against girls, even though he’s previously stated he’d prefer to wrestle against boys.
And, in typical Texas fashion, spectators of the sport who believe it’s unfair to have a transgender boy on testosterone wrestle against girls decided to boo Beggs after each of his victories at the state championships — rather than pointing to the real culprits: an intransigent UIL and Republican lawmakers in Texas, who refuse to change the law to allow transgender students to compete based on their gender identity.
“They’re saying ‘steroids.’ They’re saying, ‘Oh, they’re beating up on girls.’ It just comes down to technique and who has the most heart,” Beggs told The Dallas Morning News.
With his win at the state championships last Saturday, Beggs ends his senior season with a 36-0 record. He went 56-0 as a junior, and 40-9 as a sophomore, when he lost in the state quarterfinals.
The most contentious part of Beggs’ story surrounds his use of low-dose testosterone injections (36 milligrams per week), which were prescribed by a doctor to help him transition beginning in his freshman year. The injections are legal under a “safe harbor” provision in Texas state law and UIL policy, which allows athletes to use steroid that are “dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”
Despite being legal, many fans and parents have attempted to get Beggs kicked out of the sport. A parent of one of his opponents filed a lawsuit, which was later dismissed, to block Beggs from wrestling girls.
Last year, Texas lawmakers considered legislation that would have allowed the UIL to suspend athletes if “the safety of competing students or the fairness of a particular competition has been or will be substantially affected by the student’s steroid use.” But the bill died in committee in the House of Representatives.
The UIL has also stated it will not change its birth certificate rule, which it claims is “non-discriminatory.” The rule was approved by UIL member district superintendents by a 586-32 margin, even though at least a dozen other states and the NCAA have adopted pro-transgender policies that are more in-step with medical science and understandings of what it means to transition.
Beggs has since been offered an academic scholarship at a small college, where he’s been promised a chance to wrestle on the men’s team, in accordance with the NCAA’s policy on transgender athletes. So, now, ironically, much of the controversy that surrounded his participation in high school athletics and thrust him into the spotlight will likely subside as he moves forward in his wrestling career.
“This year I wanted to prove a point that anyone can do anything,” Beggs told The News after his victory. “Even though I was put in this position, even though I didn’t want to be put in this position, even though I wanted to wrestle the guys, I still had to wrestle the girls.
“But what can I tell people? I can tell the state Legislature to change the policy, but I can’t tell them to change it right now. All I can hope for is that they come to their [senses] and realize this is stupid and we should change the policies to conform to other people in my position.”