Texas transgender wrestler Mack Beggs wins second straight title, draws mixed reactions

A transgender male wrestler won his second-straight Texas girls’ 6A 110-pound division title on Sunday.

18-year-old Mack Beggs, who is a senior at Euless Trinity High School just north of Arlington, Texas, entered the state tournament last week with a perfect record. On Sunday, he beat Chelsea Sanchez — who he also beat in the championship last season — to take the 110-pound title.

Fans had mix reactions, and a loud chorus of boos could be heard when Beggs was named the state champion.

“It definitely felt different,” Beggs told the Dallas Morning News. “I felt a lot more humble. This year I wanted to prove a point that anyone can do anything. Even though I was put in this position, even though I didn’t want to be put in this position, even though I wanted to wrestle the guys, I still had to wrestle the girls.

“But what can I tell people? I can tell the state Legislature to change the policy, but I can’t tell them to change it right now. All I can hope for is that they come to their [senses] and realize this is stupid and we should change the policies to conform to other people in my position.”

Though he has repeatedly asked to wrestle in the boys’ devision, Beggs is forced to wrestle girls because, under University Interscholastic League rules, athletes must compete in the gender division that corresponds to their birth certificates.

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Mack Beggs, transgender wrestler from Texas
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Mack Beggs, transgender wrestler from Texas
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs is named the winner of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class championship match in the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2107 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs wrestles Katy Morton Ranch junior Chelsea Sanchez in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs had a nose bleed that could not be contained by his nose plug in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs wrestles Katy Morton Ranch junior Chelsea Sanchez in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs wrestles Katy Morton Ranch junior Chelsea Sanchez in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs celebrates after winning the championship match of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class in the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs waits for a signal from the referee in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs wrestles Katy Morton Ranch junior Chelsea Sanchez in the final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 25: Trinity junior Mack Beggs gets medical attention for a nose bleed during final round of the 6A Girls 110 Weight Class match in the Texas Wrestling State Tournament on February 25, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CYPRESS, TX - FEBRUARY 24: Trinity junior Mack Beggs stretches as he watches the scoreboards during the Texas Wrestling State Tournament between on February 24, 2017 at Berry Center in Cypress, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Beggs, who was born female as Mackenzie, identifies as a male. He has not yet had gender reassignment surgeries, though the Dallas Morning News reports that he recently consulted with a Plano, Texas, clinic and hopes to have “top surgery” in the near future.

Beggs beat three female wrestlers en route to his state title, at least one of whom has said she doesn’t think it’s fair that Beggs gets to wrestle in the girls’ division.

“I understand if you want to transition your gender,” said Cypress Ranch wrestler Kayla Fitts, who went 52-0 this season before falling to Beggs in the semifinals. “I understand that totally. But there’s a time and a place. You can do that after high school.

“Or if you want to do it, you can quit the sport. Because I don’t think it’s fair at all that you’re taking testosterone. That’s steroids. I know it’s not a lot. But still.”

Beggs has been taking low-dose testosterone injections prescribed by his doctor since his freshman year, though that was not made public until last January. He is allowed to take the testosterone, even though State and UIL rules prohibit their use by high school athletes, because they are “dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”

Many have called for this rule to be changed; a lawsuit was even filed by a Texas high school parent.

While more than a dozen states and the NCAA allow athletes to participate in sports based on their gender identity, the UIL still stands firm on its ruling.

“The UIL is not in the gender-determining business and schools don’t want to be either,” UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison told the Associated Press.

His mom, Angela McNew, said that Beggs isn’t trying taking advantage of the girls he is forced to wrestle simply to have an easier path to a state title. It’s just the situation he was forced into.

“He has so much respect for all the girls he wrestles,” McNew said. “People think Mack has been beating up on girls. … The girls he wrestles with, they are tough. It has more to do with skill and discipline than strength.”

Beggs has compiled a 132-9 record over the last three seasons, and hasn’t lost a match in the past two years. He currently has scholarship offer to a small college, where he was promised a spot on the men’s wrestling team next season.

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The faces and stories of transgender people around the world
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The faces and stories of transgender people around the world
Penelope Patterson does a one-handed push up at his home in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. December 13, 2016. Jodie Patterson's 3-year-old, Penelope, was brooding and angry until one day she asked her child what was wrong. Penelope, who was assigned female at birth, was upset "because everyone thinks I'm a girl," but he said he was really a boy. "I said, 'However you feel inside is fine.'" Patterson recalled from their home in Brooklyn. "And then Penelope looked at me and said, 'No mama, I don't feel like a boy. I am a boy.'" Almost immediately, Patterson embraced the reality that Penelope was a transgender boy, and by age 5 he was going to school as a boy. Today, at age 9, Penelope is happy and healthy as a boy who loves karate and super heroes and decided to keep his birth name. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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Helena Vukovic, Serbian first transgender veteran army officer, poses for a picture in Belgrade, Serbia September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Nada Chaiyajit, a Thai transgender activist, 37, poses during an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, November 28, 2016. Picture taken November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
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