Mack Beggs: Trinity’s transgender wrestler wins first match at state meet

Mack Beggs: Trinity's transgender wrestler wins first match at state meet
Mack Beggs: Trinity's transgender wrestler wins first match at state meet

Mack Beggs’ first pin of the Class 6A state girls wrestling championship came in Saturday morning’s semifinal match, launching the transgender grappler from Euless Trinity High School into the championship match in the 110-pound weight class.

Mack Beggs is a 17-year-old junior at Euless Trinity who is transitioning from female to male, and has been the subject of much discussion after two of his opponents forfeited at last weekend’s regional tournament in Allen. Beggs is a transgender boy and is taking testosterone in his transition from female to male. However, Texas’ University Interscholastic League rules forbid Beggs from competing as a boy — the gender in which he identifies.

A lawsuit was filed two weeks ago against the UIL in an attempt to ban Beggs from competing, though the wrestler has not broken any rules. The UIL allows use of steroids under certain medial circumstances, and Beggs’ family says the wrestler has been fully cleared to compete.

Beggs (54-0) soundly beat League City Clear Springs’ Taylor Latham (11-14) in the first round Friday morning, 18-7, and followed that up with a win over Amarillo Tascosa’s Mya Engert (37-9) Friday afternoon. Though two of Beggs’ three opponents forfeited last weekend during the regional tournament, Latham and Engert showed no hesitation in competing.

In the quarterfinals Friday afternoon, Beggs won a 12-4 major decision over Engert.

Amarillo Tascosa coach Joe Stafford declined to comment on the issue surrounding Beggs, who will face Grand Prairie’s Kailyn Clay in a semifinal Saturday morning. Beggs defeated Clay in the regional tournament.

After Beggs’ opening match, the wrestler ran off the mat without speaking. Latham and Clear Springs coach Brian Tolston declined to comment, but Latham’s mother called the match unfair and a no-win situation.

In the spotlight after having two opponents forfeit in regionals last week, Beggs was the subject of immense media attention. Four television cameras followed Beggs’ every move as he waited for weigh-ins.

Beggs didn’t acknowledge the presence, instead nervously biting his fingernails while he waited. Angela McNew, Beggs’ mother, and his stepfather, Damon McNew, watched from the second level.

“You’re not going to have anything left,” Damon McNew said to Beggs.

Beggs gave a small smile, shrugged and walked into the weigh-in room like any other wrestler.

Angela and Damon McNew declined to comment.

When the match neared, cameras circled around Beggs as he warmed up. Beggs came running out of an opposite entrance just before the bout and wrestled Latham. Television cameras and media lined the match during the entire bout.

Before Beggs’ first match, UIL executive deputy director Jamey Harrison declined to comment on any particular athlete but said he didn’t expect the UIL’s policy stating that athletes must wrestle as the gender on their birth certificate to change since it passed with 95 percent of the vote in 2016.

The earliest a rule change could come is at the next UIL legislative council in June.

Harrison also said he felt a large reason for wrestling’s growth in Texas was because of having separate girls and boys divisions. UIL rules specifically prevent girls from wrestling boys and vice versa. Texas is only one of seven state high school associations who do not allow co-ed wrestling.

The lawsuit, filed by a Coppell wrestling parent on behalf of another parent, claims that Beggs should not be allowed to compete because of his use of testosterone.

Beggs has been allowed to wrestle because of a safe harbor provision in the education code that allows athletes to compete if a doctor is prescribing a banned substance for a valid medical use.

Harrison said the UIL is not responsible for determining what is valid medical use, but said the rule was unclear on who was and the UIL was still working through that process.

The UIL’s authority when it comes to the steroid testing program is limited after the Texas legislature stopped funding the program in 2015.