Teen Transgender Wrestler Adds to Gender Debate in US
A17-year-oldtransgenderboycompleted an undefeated season on Saturday intheUSbywinningaTexasstategirls’ wrestling championship — an accomplishment clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone he is taking as he transitions from female to male gave him an unfair advantage.
The family of Mack Beggs has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. So Beggs beat Chelsea Sanchez, 12-2, in the girls’ 110-pound weight class (50kg class) to improve to 56-0 and earn the state title.
After his victory, Beggs fell to his knees for a moment as a mixture of cheers and boos rained down. He hugged his coach and left the mat. Beggs, who reached the state championships after two opponents forfeited, was dogged throughout the tournament by questions about whether his testosterone treatments had made him too strong to wrestle fairly against girls.
He pinned Kailyn Clay to reach the final. Beggs slammed Clay onto the mat and pinned her for the win. They shared a long hug before an official raised Beggs’s arm to signal victory, and he left the mat. Clay’s coaches shouted to reporters that she did not have permission to talk to them after her loss. Both of her parents declined to comment.
Beggs’schampionshipvictorycomes at a crucial moment in the debate over gender all over the world. Last week, theTrumpadministrationannounced an end to federal protections that allowed transgender students to use facilities based on their gender identity.
Jim Baudhuin, a lawyer who is the parent of a wrestler who has never facedBeggs,triedunsuccessfullytoget injunctionsbeforeboththedistrictand regionalmeetsinanattempttoprevent Beggs from competing.
Baudhuin said this month that he did not blame Beggs for the situation, but instead faulted the University Interscholastic League, which oversees athletics. “She’s just trying to live her life and her family is, too,” Baudhuin said. “She’s being forced into that position.”
Despite criticism, UIL executives did not envision a change in policy.
Mack Beggs, 17, is 56-0 this season