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The transgender debate finds its way to Texas high school wrestling.
Mack Beggs is a transgender wrestler undergoing the transition phase from female to male. He is currently taking a low dosage of testosterone. Beggs is a senior at Euless Trinity High School in Dallas, Texas. Recently, Beggs had won the Texas girls state title for the second year in a row in the 110-pound division.
He had a 32-0 record coming into the tournament. The tournament took place in Cyprus, Texas, which is on the outskirts of Houston. Beggs defeated three female wrestlers to win the state championship. The last victory came when he defeated Chelsea Sanchez in the finals.
Last year, debates started due to Beggs having steroid therapy treatments while wrestling girls in tournaments. This also drew concern about competitive fairness as well as transgender rights.
The rules for wrestlers from Texas public high schools is that they must compete under the gender shown on the wrestler’s birth certificate. This resulted in Beggs’ request to wrestle against the guys to be denied. The birth certificate rule was determined and approved by the University Interscholastic League in 2016.
The University Interscholastic League serves as the governing body of all Texas high school sports. Jamie Harrison, deputy director of the League, said the ruling helps schools determine competition.
When Mack Beggs wrestles at the college level, he will get to wrestle in the men’s division. This is due to a regulation that the NCAA passed in 2011. The regulation says that student-athletes who have any testosterone in their bodies as a result of medical treatment are not allowed to compete against females in gender-specific sports. The only exception to the NCAA’s ruling is if a student-athlete is transitioning from male to female. The Olympics also allows wrestlers to wrestle with the gender they identify with.
Beggs’ mother, Angela McNew, said that he has received a lot of respect from the girls that he wrestles.
“People think that Mack has been beating up on girls,” McNew said. She continued on to say the wrestlers Mack faces “…are tough. It has more to do with skill and discipline than strength.”
Last season, two female wrestlers forfeited rather than wrestle Beggs in the regional tournament. They claimed to have forfeited for their fear of injury while wrestling Mack. This season, however, only one female wrestler has forfeited. Angela McNew said the opponent’s coach and teammates insisted that she wrestle Beggs. However, she refused to do so.
Last year, a parent filed a suit to prevent Beggs from competing in the female division. The parent felt that the testosterone gave Beggs an unfair advantage in the tournaments. A number of others seemed to agree with this sentiment, not to mention his steroid therapy treatments.
Beggs’ presence in the girls’ tournament comes at a time when the belief that gender is not binary is slowly rising. Over this past week, President Donald Trump ended federal protections to allow transgender people to enter facilities corresponding to their gender identity rather than their biological gender. Also, in Texas, lawmakers are working on a bill that will require transgender people to use facilities that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.