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Outdated Transgender Policies Overshadow Wrestling Champ

  • Kristina Evans
  • Mar 4, 2017 11:34AM

Mack Beggs, a junior at Trinity High School in Texas, has become the unexpected focus of international media and discussion. Beggs, 17, won his final match in the 110lb weight class to capture the wrestling championship- in the girls’ category.

Beggs completed an undefeated season by winning the controversial title last Saturday. Instead of wallowing the debate and controversy of the event, Beggs was a gracious and humble victor.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my teammates,” he said. “That’s honestly what the spotlight should have been on is my teammates.The hard work that I put in in the practice room with them, because me--we trained hard every, single day. Every, single day and that’s where the spotlight should have been on. Not me. All these guys. Because I would not be where without them.”

It’s a wonderful sentiment. Unfortunately, Beggs won the state wrestling title in a category he didn’t even want to be in. Beggs is currently transitioning from female to male, and he, his family, and his opponents wanted him to wrestle against the boys. But athletics in Texas are overseen by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). Back on Aug 1, the UIL enacted the birth certificate policy, which states that, “Gender shall be determined based on a student’s birth certificate. In cases where a student’s birth certificate is unavailable, other similar government documents used for the purpose of identification may be substituted.” This amendment was supported by 95% of Texas school superintendents back in February 2016 during the vote.

Ironically, the UIL agreed to the birth certificate policy to keep boys transitioning to girls from competing on opposite-sex teams in an attempt to eliminate physical advantages. It was fought unsuccessfully by PFLAG and other LGBTQ activists. The UIL states that people can amend their birth certificates and that they will recognize that change, but that process requires a court order, which can cost thousands of dollars and still could ultimately get rejected. Beggs’ family sought to have him wrestle as a boy, and some of his opponents have said that he has an unfair advantage among girls because of the testosterone he is taking as a part of his transition. However, the UIL allows for the use of a banned drug (such as steroids) if it “is prescribed by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.” According to the CNN, Beggs has been taking testosterone since October 2015.

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