High school wrestler Mack Beggs will be honored in New York at the Athlete Ally Action Awards on Oct. 3. The 17-year-old made headlines after he completed an undefeated season (56-0) during his junior year at Trinity (Euless, Texas) and won the 6A girls' state championship. Beggs wrestled against girls due to a policy set by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which governs Texas high school activities, that requires athletes to compete on the team in accordance with the sex denoted on their birth certificate.
The state championship launched Beggs into the public eye. As the Texas state legislature considered bills to regulate bathroom access based upon birth certificate, it was Beggs' face atop much of the news coverage. Beggs, however, has begun to speak out and advocate for transgender students like himself. His courage is being recognized by Athlete Ally.
"Mack's story has inspired people across the country to stand up and speak out for the full dignity and protection of the LGBT community," said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. "We're proud to help lift up Mack's story and honor someone -- who at such a young age -- is so bravely living his authentic life and fighting for the protection of the LGBT community."
"It's a huge honor," Beggs said in a phone interview.
Beggs served as the grand marshal for the San Antonio Pride parade in July, along with another transgender boy, 8-year-old Joe Maldonado. As the Texas legislature in special session considered SB3, which addressed multiple-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms, as well as cross-gender participation in athletics, Beggs collaborated with Athlete Ally on a video that criticized the legislation.
"There are kids like me that may not say something because they don't have the courage or the strength to speak out," Beggs said. "I'm hoping that people will be able to realize that you shouldn't judge someone based on what [gender] they want to compete with."
Athlete Ally is nonprofit organization that educates and empowers the athletic community to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia in sports.