The world of Texas high school wrestling made national news recently thanks to the controversy surrounding a 17-year-old transgender boy named Mack Beggs.
While the teenager has been using testosterone therapy for more than a year during his transition from female to male, Beggs isn't allowed to compete against other boys in his state. According to the Washington Post, the University Interscholastic League, which oversees the rules for high school wrestling in Texas, requires athletes to compete in the division corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate.
The rule has caused a few issues for Beggs, as he's only allowed to wrestle against girls. Despite some setbacks, this fierce teen isn't backing down, and is changing the game for transgender athletes.
Let's take a closer look at Mack Beggs' wrestling journey.
Although Beggs has been barred from competing against boys, that hasn't stopped him from pursuing his dreams on the mats.
Beggs posted an undefeated record going into last month's girls state championships. Along with his team, Beggs was looking forward to the competition, however, not everyone was happy with the teen's inclusion.
Arguing that it was unfair for Beggs to compete in the girls division due to his testosterone use, some parents spoke out in opposition of allowing him to wrestle. A few of his competitors have even dropped out from wrestling him in the past due to fear of injuries.
One parent went so far as to file a lawsuit against the league behind sports in public schools, saying, "We just don’t think it’s fair that Mack should wrestle, either be allowed or should be required to wrestle against girls.”
Amid the controversy, Beggs said in a Facebook post that it's the parents, not the students, who are getting in the way of progress.
“The thing is, we want to wrestle each other. I feel so sick and disgusted by the discrimination not by the kids, the PARENTS AND COACHES,” Beggs wrote. “These kids don’t care who you put in front of them to wrestle. We just want to WRESTLE. THEY are taking that away from me and from the people I’m competing with.”
Winning More Than Just a Title
While Beggs went on to win the Texas state girls 110-pound championship, it wasn't his only victory.
USA Wrestling recently announced a new transgender policy that will allow Beggs to compete in the boys division. According to Fightland, the new rule states that "any athlete who has declared his identity as male will be eligible to compete in the male category without restrictions." Meanwhile, athletes who are transitioning from male to female must "demonstrate testosterone levels below a particular threshold for at least 12 months prior to competition."
Following the news, Mack's grandmother, Nancy, reacted to the announcement in an interview with the Dallas Morning News.
“We didn’t call them, they called us,” Nancy said. “[They] said, ‘We need to make sure Mack is compliant. Having watched everything we realize how important this is to Mack.’”
Unfortunately, the policy only applies to USA Wrestling events and not to state wrestling matches, so Beggs will once again be forced to face girls when high school competitions are back in session.
Regardless, Beggs and his fighter's spirit are serving as an inspiration to transgender athletes everywhere.