“The victory was seen as equal parts unavoidable . . . and contentious”
Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old junior, began the transition from girl to boy two years ago; the transition includes supplements and shots of testosterone that some feel gave Beggs an advantage. Beggs competed for and won a Texas state girls’ wrestling title.
Booed and bloody, Mack Beggs dropped to his knees to celebrate. He was, after four wins and two days and all the rest, a state champion.
In a 12-2 victory against Chelsea Sanchez in the 110-pound classification, Beggs ended a highly controversial and dramatic weekend by becoming the first transgender participant to win a Class 6A girls’ state championship in Texas high school wrestling.
“I just witnessed my sport change,” a longtime Texas wrestling coach said moments after Beggs, a 17-year-old junior at Trinity High in Euless whose transition from girl to boy began two years ago and now includes testosterone injections, won a championship. The victory was seen as equal parts unavoidable — quick and noticeably strong, he entered the tournament unbeaten in 52 matches against girls — and contentious. The University Interscholastic League, which oversees sports in Texas public schools, ordered Beggs to continue competing in the girls’ division despite heavy uproar and a lawsuit earlier this month in a Travis County district court.
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) February 26, 2017
Beggs had requested to wrestle against boys instead of girls, but this request was denied.
Two years ago, Mack Beggs began taking supplements to begin his physical transition. In the video, he predicted a complicated future regarding UIL rules but nonetheless declared that he wanted to go on participating in the sport he had fallen in love with. He began taking testosterone in 2015.
“Everything is great,” Beggs said in the video. “The message I’m trying to send, the overall universal message I would say to y’all is don’t give up and don’t give up on yourself, because you don’t know when you’ll find yourself.”
As time passed, attorney Baudhuin said, Beggs requested to wrestle against boys, though because UIL guidelines determine athletes’ gender based on their birth certificate, that request was declined (citing privacy, the UIL would not discuss that request or Beggs’s specific case); in a brief interview before the championship final, Nancy Beggs would not comment on whether her grandson hoped to eventually participate in the boys’ division.
Last year, coaches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area began hearing about changes in Beggs’s physique. He was strong and lean, and coaches noticed an unmistakable strength advantage that hadn’t been there even a year earlier.
A few coaches and parents became concerned their girls wouldn’t compete on equal terrain. Other coaches disagreed, more impressed by Beggs’s commitment to improvement and his mental preparation.
The situation is difficult, and the “sides” that have been drawn are themselves wrestling with questions of gender identity, supplements and testosterone in college sports, and University Interscholastic League (UIL) rules and state law.
[I]n Texas, lawmakers are considering a bill similar to HB2, the North Carolina law that prompted the NBA to move this year’s All-Star Game out of that state. If passed, the Texas version, called SB6, would require transgender people to use the bathroom of their “biological sex.”
Attorney Jim Baudhuin tried and failed to get injunctions before both the district and regional meets to prevent Beggs from competing while he transitions because he is taking testosterone. Baudhuin, who is the parent of a wrestler at another school who has never faced Beggs, told The Associated Press earlier this week he doesn’t blame Beggs for the situation, but faults the UIL.
“The more I learn about this, the more I realize that she’s just trying to live her life and her family is, too,” Baudhuin said. “She’s being forced into that position. Who knows, through discovery we may find out that’s not the case. But every indication is, the way the winds are going now, the blame rests with the UIL and the superintendents.”
Despite criticism of the policy, UIL executives don’t envision a change.
“Ninety-five percent of the school superintendents in Texas voted for the rule as it was proposed, which was to use birth certificates,” Harrison said. “So any rule can be reconsidered, but … given the overwhelming support for that rule, I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.”
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