Transgender High School Wrestler Wins Texas Regional Title Despite Protests and Lawsuits
On Saturday an undefeated transgender high school wrestler in Texas won the girls 110-pound championship at the Class 6A Region II wrestling meet after two of his three opponents forfeited their matches. Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old junior at Euless Trinity High School who identifies as male, won a spot at the state championship next weekend after Madeline Rocha, from nearby Coppell, declined to fight him in the regional finals.
Though unfortunate, the result of this weekend’s tournament wasn’t unexpected. Eleven days before Beggs stood on the winner’s podium a lawsuit was filed against the University Interscholastic League by attorney Jim Baudheim, whose daughter wrestles for Coppell, asking the group to suspend Beggs for using steroids, claiming his doing so exposes other athletes to “imminent threat of bodily harm.” Baudheim’s daughter does not wrestle in Beggs’ weight class, nor does the daughter of Coppell resident Pratik Khandelwal, the plaintiff in the case.
Beggs, a three-time state qualifier, began taking testosterone treatments in October 2015, according to his social media posts. The Texas Education Code and University Interscholastic League forbid the use of steroids unless they are "dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose." Beggs’ grandmother and guardian Nancy Beggs told reporters that the UIL was sent Beggs’ medical records before the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and that the wrestler was given clearance to compete.
Still, Jim Baudheim (who respects Beggs’ gender identity “completely”) says those steroids give Beggs an illegal edge over his opponents. "All we're saying is she is taking something that gives her an unfair advantage,” Baudheim said. “It's documented. It's universal that it's an unfair advantage." [Italics mine]
According to doctors, testosterone treatment can potentially increase muscle mass and provide a competitive advantage to transitioning athletes, but not necessarily.
Here’s the thing, though: Mack Beggs wants to compete against boys. But he’s prevented from doing so by two UIL rules, one stating that student-athletes must compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate and another prohibiting boys and girls from wrestling each other. In other words, Beggs is prohibited by rules from competing in the division he would like to (and in which testosterone treatment would give him no advantage) while effectively being prevented from competing in the division he has to by forfeits and legal suits because he’s taking perfectly legal hormones to transition to the sex he identifies with. It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t growing up transgender in Texas.
Earlier this year Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick introduced Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public buildings, such as schools and government buildings, according to their “biological sex” and prohibit any local government from adopting non-discrimination ordinances allowing transgender Texans to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. That bill has incurred the wrath of both LGBTQ advocacy groups and conservative business lobbyists, who estimate such legislation could cost the state up to $8.5 million and 100,000 jobs. After North Carolina passed its own “bathroom bill” last year it has lost millions and millions in revenue, much of that related to the cancellation of sporting events, including the 2017 NBA All Star Game and several NCAA championship games.
“We know it’s going to be a tough fight, but we know we’re on the right side of the issue. We’re on the right side of history,” Patrick said while announcing SB6 at press conference last month. “You can mark today as the day Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying no.” And while Texas senators bravely argue over the best way to stay on the right side of history in Austin one of their native sons, Mack Beggs, will be 137 miles west in Cypress, fighting for a state championship.
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