FAQ: Why is a transgender boy allowed to wrestle against the girls in Texas?
It wouldn't necessarily be a big deal that Mack Beggs won the 110-pound title at a regional girls' wrestling championship in Texas on Feb. 18. But Beggs, who won when his opponent forfeited, is a transgender boy.
Beggs has gone undefeated this season, and this most-recent forfeit was just one of two he saw all season. The other came in an early round of the regional tournament.
As a regional winner, Beggs will wrestle in the state championship this Saturday and Sunday in Cypress, Texas. Beggs' presence in this tournament has raised several questions, so we'd like to try to answer some of them.
Q: Why is Beggs allowed to compete in girls' wrestling?
A: The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which governs high school sports in Texas, passed a policy in February 2016 (which went into effect on Aug. 1 that year) that officially defined gender by what's marked on a person's birth certificate, or other similar identification documents. Beggs' birth certificate indicates female, as that was his assigned sex at birth.
Texas is also one of a handful of states that separates girls' and boys' wrestling. In other states, boys and girls compete against each other.
Q: How did the UIL decide on this policy?
A: The superintendents of the Texas school districts voted the UIL's policy into place. According to referendum data provided by the UIL, the measure passed 586-32, with two districts not responding.
Q: Can birth certificates be changed?
A: Though it is not the case in every state, in Texas, a person can amend the gender on their birth certificate.
Q: So why doesn't Beggs change his birth certificate and wrestle with the boys?
A: Every trans person's legal, social and medical transition is their own journey.
Either way, amending a birth certificate, just like jumping through any other government hoop, costs time and money. Legal and administrative fees often arise in processes like these.
Q: There's a parent suing the UIL because Beggs is doping. How does that fit into all of this?
A: Yes, there's a lawsuit outstanding, and it's complicated.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Beggs has been taking testosterone since 2015. The UIL was sent his medical records before the 2015-16 season, and Beggs has been allowed to participate, his grandmother told the Morning News.
The UIL doesn't allow steroid use in athletics to gain an advantage, per the Texas education code. But there's a loophole in the code that's become a source of contention.
The code says that the prohibition of steroids by a student doesn't apply if they're "dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose and in the course of professional practice, and a student is not subject to a period of ineligibility... on the basis of that steroid use."
The lawsuit asserts that Beggs' use of testosterone fails to meet the standard of being administered by a medical practitioner and is not for a valid medical purpose.
Q: Beggs has been taking testosterone, wrestling against girls all year, and the UIL knew about it?
A: Yes, according to what's been reported.
Q: What does Beggs' school think about it?
A: The Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District (HEB ISD) provided this statement:
"In light of the recent article in the [Dallas Morning News], HEB ISD has and will continue to follow UIL guidelines in regard to student participation in UIL events. The District also remains steadfast in our mission of educating students and creating a safe environment for each and every student and employee, which is a prerequisite to learning."
Q: So Beggs is going to wrestle at the state championship?
A: Unless something drastic changes, that seems to be the case.