One month after transgender wrestler Mack Beggs won the Texas state girls 110-pound championship in Cypress, USA Wrestling has announced the implementation of a new policy that will not only allow Beggs, and other transgender athletes transitioning from female to male, to compete against boys, but require it. Based loosely on the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee, this new policy states that any athlete who has declared his identity as male will be eligible to compete in the male category without restrictions. Athletes transitioning from male to female, meanwhile, will be required to demonstrate testosterone levels below a particular threshold for at least 12 months prior to competition.
This comes as long-wished-for news for Beggs, who has repeatedly made clear his desire to compete against boys but has been prevented from doing so by a rule in Texas’ University Interscholastic League code requiring student-athletes to compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate. As such, Beggs has always competed against girls, though not without controversy. In late February Beggs won his spot in the state finals after two of his three opponents in a qualifying tournament forfeited their fights. Eleven days before that the father of one of the girls from the opposing school filed a lawsuit against the UIL asking the group to suspend Beggs for using steroids, this despite the fact that the UIL knew Beggs had been taking testosterone treatments since October 2015 and had already cleared him to compete.
Beggs’ grandmother and legal guardian, Nancy, told the Dallas Morning News that they learned about USA Wrestling’s new policy directly from the group. “We didn’t call them, they called us,” she said. “[They] said, ‘We need to make sure Mack is compliant. Having watched everything we realize how important this is to Mack.’ “
As a result of the new policy Beggs will compete against boys at USA Wrestling events this spring and summer. However, when the 17-year-old returns to Trinity High School In Euless for his senior year he will be forced to go back to wrestling girls, barring any change to UIL rules. That group’s legislative council is scheduled to meet in June, but at last month’s state championships Executive Deputy Director Jamey Harrison said he doesn’t expect the rule to change.
So, let’s recap: A transgender wrestler receiving legal testosterone injections to transition from female to male who wants to compete against boys but is prohibited from doing so by his state government while at the same time being hindered from competing in the division he has to (but doesn’t want to) by forfeiting opponents and their litigious parents will spend the spring and summer competing in the male division at USA Wrestling events, presumably getting better and stronger as a result of competing against boys, only to be forced upon his return to high school competition in Texas (a state on the verge of passing a “bathroom” bill that would prohibit local governments from adopting transgender non-discrimination ordinances) to compete against girls by that same governing body that claims its transgender wrestling policy exists not to make life harder for transgender people but only to protect the health and well-being of all its student athletes and the fairness of its competitions. What’s not to understand?
Check out these related stories: