Texas has a new two-time high school wrestling champion. The wrestler in question is Mack Beggs, an 18-year-old transgender boy who, due to Texas public high school rules, has been forced to continue to compete in the girls wrestling field.
Beggs successfully won the state championship for the second straight year on Saturday, but when he was declared the winner, he was met with a hail of boos from many of the spectators in attendance. Here’s what the moment looked and sounded like.
End of Mack Beggs title match was chaos. Had huge lead, nearly got pinned, then came the crescendo of cheers/boos. pic.twitter.com/FrLixVsTAj— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) February 24, 2018
The crux of the conflict—in addition to the stigma and bigotry that transgender people face throughout the world, and often specifically in athletics―is that Beggs has now twice won wrestling championships competing against high school girls, despite identifying as male and reportedly taking a low dose of testosterone to facilitate his transition.
As the Washington Post notes, the testosterone Beggs has been receiving is not categorized as a banned substance because it’s been approved by a physician.
Beggs didn’t want to be in this situation. He wanted to be allowed to wrestle against other high school boys, the gender with which he identifies. But absent a change to the policies, his only option to continue his wrestling career was to compete against girls instead, a fact which he discussed with the Dallas Morning News.
“This year I wanted to prove a point that anyone can do anything. 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,” Beggs told the paper.
“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.”
Beggs also told the Morning News that he knows he’s a champion and that he worked tirelessly to achieve his consecutive state titles.
“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,” Beggs said. “In my heart, I am a champion. No matter who you put in front of me, I am a champion.”
Beggs’ final victory in the state championships came against the same opponent he bested in 2017, Chelsea Sanchez. Although other transgender high school wrestlers in Texas will still be constrained by the state’s rules unless the legislature steps in, Beggs is now moving on to college, one where he’ll reportedly now be able to wrestle against other men.