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Trans wrestler gets pinned by transphobia

by Nathan Barker - Copy Ecitor
Fri, Mar 9th 2018 03:00 pm
The hate against trans people is spread far and wide. Highschoolers and children are at particular risk of being negatively affected by the prejudice of transphobes.  A high school wrestler recently found this out in a very unsavory way.
The hate against trans people is spread far and wide. Highschoolers and children are at particular risk of being negatively affected by the prejudice of transphobes. A high school wrestler recently found this out in a very unsavory way.

As gender fluidity flourishes across the country, it can sometimes be tricky  to accommodate fair and level sports programs. There have been controversial discussions regarding Mack Beggs, a transgender wrestler who just won his second straight Texas girls’ 6A 110-pound division title on Sunday, Feb. 25. Beggs, who was assigned female at birth, identifies as a male, and competes with female wrestlers due to laws regarding who can wrestle against whom.

Beggs has been taking low-dose testosterone injections prescribed by his doctor since his freshman year. He is allowed to take the testosterone, even though the rules in Texas prohibit their use by high school athletes, because they are used for a legitimate medical purpose. Many people feel this is unfair, and that the testosterone gives him an unfair advantage over the female competition. One parent even filed a lawsuit in an attempt to change the rule.

Last season, two girls forfeited their match with Beggs in fear of injury. This season, there was only one forfeit, despite her coach insisting that she compete. Beggs has no history of injuring anyone during a match; but to be fair, if an athlete doesn’t want to compete against someone, they shouldn’t be forced to.

Cypress Ranch, a wrestler who had a perfect 52-0 record, lost to Beggs in the semi-finals. She argues, “I understand if you want to transition your gender. 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.”

Well, there’s a few obvious problems with this argument. First of all, there is no exact time that it is appropriate for someone to make the decision to transition. There is no substantial reason for why someone shouldn’t be allowed to do so before graduating high school. After all, we are talking about fundamental rights of identity here.  Secondly, saying that someone needs to quit a sport if they decide to change their gender is simply unaccommodating; that charge is a lazy person’s way of solving the issue.

According to Texas law, high school athletes must compete within the gender they were assigned to at birth. Even though Beggs has repeatedly stated that he would rather compete with the boys, he has no choice. Shortly after winning the title, Beggs told 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.” Beggs continues, “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.”

Any criticism that Beggs receives should be redirected to the State of Texas and the University Interscholastic League, or UIL, that enforces the rule. It is their lack of proper legislation that makes this an issue in the first place. 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. 

I find this comment unconstructive and unsatisfactory. We’re not asking you to determine anyone’s gender identity, we’re simply asking you to accommodate for those who identify with a gender they were not assigned at birth so that it is fair for everyone involved.

 

nbark2@u.brockport.edu