Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs should be allowed to compete against other boys

In Opinion
An illustration of Mack Beggs.

In sports, the cliché “records are made to be broken,” is tried and tired, but in the case of Mack Beggs, an 18-year-old Texas senior wrestler, a ridiculous and unfair rule requiring him to wrestle against girls doesn’t need to be broken, it needs to be abolished.

Beggs is a transgender male who wrestled back-to-back Texas state titles in the girls class 6A 110-pound division. A few years ago, he began transitioning from female to male and was subjected to criticism over his victories. Outraged parents of female competitors felt Beggs should be competing against the boys.

Also stating that he’d rather wrestle boys, Beggs has not been permitted to do so because of a ridiculous, archaic policy put in place by the University Interscholastic League, an inter-school organization in Texas that provides guidelines for administers and extracurricular contests.

The league isn’t taking into consideration or progressing the rights of transgender people
by requiring student-athletes to compete as the gender that correlates with the sex listed on their birth certificate, instead of the gender they identify as.

The legislative council, which is comprised of 32 school administrators, is supposed to listen to stakeholder groups and members of the public, then make decisions based on what the council feels is best for students.

High school sports should be a place where teenagers feel safe and free to be who they are. In Beggs’ case, all he wants to do is compete against boys because he identifies as one. But because a group of adults feel they know what’s best for him and his family, he has no say in the matter .

Transgender people are among the many underrepresented factions of society, and when they ask for the right to be acknowledged they are rejected because others in power don’t realize the importance of recognition.

Facing discrimination is commonplace for transgender people. Bathroom bills based on bogus, unfounded claims have made their lives far more difficult then they have to be. False and completely unreasonable diagnoses of mental illness have also destabilized their legal rights.

Transgender people who express their identity have often found themselves in difficult social circumstances and often face discrimination in education, employment, housing and legal systems, according to the American Psychological Association.

The inherent truth is that a majority of cultures just haven’t completely embraced transgender people yet. But that doesn’t make it right to tell anyone who they are, and it’s unfair to keep someone like Beggs from pursuing his dreams.

Three states in the U.S. — Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas — have disallowed transgender people from changing their birth certificates.

Sure, there have been some hints at progress for transgender rights, like the gender identity protection laws that have existed in Maine for the last 12 years, but there is still so much left to be done.

People need to understand gender is an expression by an individual not others.

The reality is that most transgender people don’t have the platform Beggs does. He didn’t ask for the notoriety, but his situation brought to light the struggles transgender people face everyday.

To his credit, Beggs has ignored the critics and is considering a scholarship he was offered out of state to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

The league needs to do some serious soul searching if it wants to do right by transgender students because they deserve to be included just like every other student. Inclusion matters, and there needs to be an abolishment of these types of rules.

It’s time for schools to become more inclusive, a haven for young transgender adults. It’s vital to move forward not backward, and continue to provide everyone access to the pursuit of their own dreams, and maybe Beggs’ situation can serve as a step in the right direction.

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