Mack Beggs is a 17-year-old transgender student who recently gained national attention after he was faced with an uncompromising choice: to wrestle against girls or quit the sport he loves.
Despite popular opinion, Beggs chose to wrestle and potentially enact policies that would recognize the 1.4 million transgender Americans.
Prior to the Texas state-wrestling tournament, Beggs asked if he could wrestle in the boys division since that is the gender he identifies with. The University Interscholastic League denied Beggs’ request due to a UIL policy that requires athletes to “compete against the gender listed on his or her birth certificate.”
During the competition, Beggs decided to halt the transitioning process and lowered his testosterone intake in order to be fairer to his female opponents. Despite his recent victory, Beggs has received harsh criticism, and several of Beggs’ female opponents even decided to forfeit because they didn’t feel comfortable wrestling against him.
Lisa Latham, the mother of a female wrestler who lost to Beggs, called the match “completely unfair,” but acknowledged the match as a “no-win” situation for him.
“Mack wants to wrestle boys and he’ll never be recognized as a boy because of the birth certificate in the state of Texas. And female wrestlers don’t have a chance,” Latham said.
Fortunately, Latham’s statement is proving to be false after USA Wrestling caught wind of Beggs’ situation. For the first time in history, USA Wrestling has decided to enact a transgender policy that will allow those who are transgender to wrestle in the division they self-identify with.
According to Dallas News, the policy states “Those who have undergone puberty and are transitioning from female to male are required to wrestle in the boys division if they self-identify as male. For those transitioning from male to female, to wrestle as a female the person must self-identify as a female and keep testosterone levels under a certain threshold, which may be monitored by testing.”
The fact USA Wrestling has recognized the transgender community is a huge step in the right direction—especially since Trump recently denounced protection against transgender students.
“It’s ridiculous and dangerous,” Beggs said, regarding the regression of transgender rights. “Trump is leaving so many variables out. Who is going to protect these kids in school who have to watch their back every single day?”
Thankfully, Beggs is continuing to fight for the rights of transgender individuals. At just 17-years-old, Beggs made a tough decision that ultimately spoke for millions of individuals who are currently fighting for equal rights.
Beggs encourages those individuals struggling with gender dysphonia to “never give up.”
“There are so many variables and people just don’t understand that. My masculinity doesn’t define who I am. I define who I am.”
Under this rhetoric, I hope transgender individuals will receive the protection and recognition they deserve.
-Rachael Shah is an electronic media junior