Texas high school wrestler Mack Beggs wanted to compete as a boy this year. A transgender 17-year-old who began testosterone treatments in 2015, he hoped to join the boys’ wrestling team at his public high school in suburban Fort Worth. Because he was assigned female at birth, however, the state’s University Interscholastic League required him to compete as a girl.
Beggs finished an undefeated season by winning the state title in his weight class yesterday. That came after a year in which several opponents forfeited matches and competing parents filed a lawsuit to push Beggs out of girls’ wrestling, among other repeated reminders that he wasn’t welcome in a division he had never wanted to be part of in the first place.
As Texas proposes an anti-trans bathroom bill and the Department of Education rolls back protections for transgender students, it seems unlikely that Beggs’s season will prompt any change in the state’s student-athlete policies: “Nothing that has happened at this year’s wrestling championships has the UIL reconsidering its rules, because quite frankly, we don’t believe that any issues being reported on are really a product of UIL rules,” UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison told ESPN.
The intransigence and lack of introspection from state officials is a shame, because the “issues being reported on” seem to be exactly a product of UIL rules—rules that allow zero room for case-by-case consideration and have instead created a system where a birth certificate reigns supreme over both medical transitions and personal convictions. The questions here can often be complicated and demand nuance, which seems not to be afforded any space in UIL rules here. For an official to claim that the state’s rules are definitively not at fault while a case captures national attention around the flaws in those rules and group of parents file a lawsuit against the state agency responsible is, at best, extremely tone-deaf.
Beggs, for his part, directed attention elsewhere after his victory yesterday: “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my teammates. That’s honestly what the spotlight should’ve been on, my teammates. The hard work that I put in the practice room with them beside me, we trained hard every single day. Every single day. That’s what the spotlight should’ve been on.”