Brave Beggs ignites debate

Mack Beggs has become a household name in wrestling circles. The 17-year-old boy is also becoming a pawn in one of the most heated political debates of the last decade.

Beggs, a transgender boy from Euless Trinity High School in Cypress, Texas, capped an undefeated season with a 12-2 victory in the 110-pound championship match at Texas’ girls high school wrestling tournament. Collapsing to his knees after securing his 57th win and the state title, Beggs was pelted with a mix of cheers and jeers.

He’s been transitioning from female to male since October 2015, and that process includes testosterone injections. Those injections, according to Beggs’ harshest critics, are their reason for booing a high school athlete and even going as far as trying to ban him from wrestling in the girls tourney.

Fact is, he’s taking a minimal dosage – less than what is considered steroid use – so that he still complies with Texas state laws.

If Beggs had it his way, he’d be wrestling the boys. It’s who he grapples against in USA wrestling. Should the high school junior wrestle in college, he would be facing other men.

That’s not the case in high school. At least not in Texas. Beggs was forced to wrestle girls in the Lone Star State.

The University Interscholastic League, which oversees athletics in Texas public schools, enacted a birth certificate policy in August 2016. A policy that says students must wrestle as and against the gender listed on their birth certificates.

In New Hampshire, boys and girls wrestle each other. Being transgender wouldn’t make a difference. If you can make the weight, and are the best on your team in that weight class, you wrestle the best the opposition puts on the mat.

Beggs’ participation comes at a crucial moment in our nation’s history, as elected politicians and the public who put them in office debate the growing belief that gender is fluid.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a transgender bathroom ruling made by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia that allowed a transgender student to sue his school district over his choice of bathrooms. The ruling comes two weeks after President Donald Trump sent a letter to the Supreme Court reversing the interpretation of Title IX anti-discrimination law established by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Transgender rights are a hot-button issue, and this Texas high school wrestler lit a fire under those on both sides.

Considering the volatility of this issue, the reaction to Beggs winning the state title wasn’t surprising.

Despite the vitriol thrown his way, Beggs isn’t backing down or hiding from the spotlight. He shouldn’t.

He knows who he is. He’s just trying to live life on his own terms.

Sunday, on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Beggs said that his mother voted for President Trump.

“You know, people thought he was going to be an LGBT activist,” Beggs said in the exclusive ESPN interview. “That backfired on them. It just (sets) trans rights 10 times backwards. We’re just going to come back 20 times harder.”

He went on to tell his peers and the rest of the transgender community not to give up. Beggs surely isn’t throwing in the towel – not with wrestling or being comfortable in his own skin.

We all – transgender or not – could learn a lot from this brave Texas high schooler.

George Scione can be reached at 594-1254, gscione@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_BigG.