Over the weekend, a 17-year-old transgender boy won the Texas high school girls’ wrestling championship.
— Jördy (@JUST_JORDY) February 21, 2017
If you find that confusing, then you’ve got plenty of company.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mack Beggs won the title on Saturday to finish off a perfect 56-0 season in the 110-lb high school girls’ division.
Mack Beggs family elated he's advanced. Marco Karam says Mack first shared his transgender identity with him – "100% behind him" Dad says. pic.twitter.com/FRsqAy9BW3
— David Goins (@dgoins) February 25, 2017
ESPN reports that under a Texas high school rule overwhelmingly passed in August, people who were born biologically as girls must compete against girls, and those born biologically as boys must compete against boys. That’s why Mack was on the girls’ wrestling team.
Transgender athlete Mack Beggs of Dallas takes on Chelsea Sanchez of Morton Ranch HS for Texas Girls 6A championship. pic.twitter.com/uca6HAM0gy
— Tim Wetzel (@TimEWetzel) February 25, 2017
NBC-TV Dallas reports that Beggs has been undergoing hormone therapy for two years in order to make the transition from girl to boy. As part of the therapy, he’s taking testosterone. Because the testosterone is for a medical reason, Beggs is allowed to compete.
The Mayo Clinic says testosterone is a performance-enhancing drug with two main effects:
Anabolic effects promote muscle building.
Androgenic effects are responsible for male traits, such as facial hair and a deeper voice.
Some athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance. Frequently, the anabolic steroids that athletes use are synthetic modifications of testosterone.
As anyone watching sports headlines over the past few years is aware, ‘juicing’ in baseball, the Olympics and cycling and the proliferation of “PEDS” —performance enhancing drugs — in sport is normally considered cheating.
Twitter user Chris Mosier, who’s also transgender, says Beggs doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter:
Mack Beggs is a just kid who wants to compete in the sport he loves. Texas gave him 2 options: wrestle with girls or quit. He wrestles.
— The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) February 25, 2017
“Troyer go” says the wrestler was just playing by wrestling’s own rules:
The Dallas Morning News reports that the parent of one of the girls Mack defeated on the way to the state title believes that being able to take testosterone gave the high school junior an unfair advantage:
[Lisa Latham] believes it was unfair that Beggs is allowed to take testosterone as he transitions from female to male.
Mack wants to wrestle boys and he’ll never be recognized as a boy because of the birth certificate in the state of Texas,” Lisa Latham said after Beggs’ 18-7 victory. “And female wrestlers don’t have a chance.”
She said she understands Beggs’s conundrum, but that it’s hardly fair for everyone else.
ESPN reports that most people cheered on Beggs, but parent Patti Overstreet called the testosterone advantage “cheating”:
While many cheered Beggs, others said the match was unfair. Patti Overstreet, a self-described wrestling parent, left her seat shouting, “that’s cheating” and “big cheater!”
“Look at how beefed up she is,” Overstreet said, referring to Beggs. “It’s because she’s taking an enhancement. Whether she’s a boy, girl, wants to be purple or blue it doesn’t matter. When you’re using a drug and you’re 10 times stronger than the person you’re wrestling because of that drug that (shouldn’t be) allowed.”
That feeling is widely shared:
This reporter points out that other states and colleges have already changed their rules to allow transgender athletes to compete against their preferred sex:
If U booed Mack Beggs: The UIL birth cert.rule made him wrestle girls when he wanted to wrestle boys. At NCAA level, he'd wrestle boys
— Jim Vertuno (@JimVertuno) February 26, 2017
That’s the way Beggs’s mom wanted it. The Wall Street Journal reports that Angela Beggs wants Mack to compete against boys:
“Mack would like to compete against boys. He’s practiced very hard to get to this point.”
The case of Mack Beggs highlights the difficult issue of where transgender kids fit in school sports life, such as which locker room facilities to wash up in and on whose team they will compete.
The issue has become even more talked-about because President Trump revoked an Obama guideline on transgender facilities at schools and gave the issue back to the individual states.