Trans wrestler Mack Beggs speaks out on being forced to compete as a girl: “It’s a no-win situation”
Mack BeggsPhoto: Screenshot/Yahoo!
There has been a rapid uptake in anti-trans bill circulating in state legislatures, with lawmakers focusing on trans girls and women in sports for, they claim, having an unfair advantage. Yet many of the lawmakers behind these bills and proposals have never even tried to find examples of the trans youth with that they are legislating against.
Mack Beggs knows all too well what it’s like to play sports in school as a gender that isn’t his own. He became a two-time high school champion wrestler in the state of Texas, although he was forced to compete against cisgender girls by state regulations.
Related: Watch: Texas sportscaster takes on transphobes in must-see video
In a new video interview for Yahoo! News, Beggs — now 21 — talked about what it was like for him facing girls and women although he did not identify as one.
Beggs started wrestling competitively his freshman year of high school, attending Euless Trinity High School. Before wrestling, Beggs struggled with self-harm.
“I always felt different. I didn’t know what to call it, I didn’t know what to label myself. I didn’t know what to think,” Beggs said in the 2019 short Mack Wrestles, one part of the three-film documentary Changing the Game.
One time, his grandmother Nancy told Beggs’s wrestling coach, “I don’t know what happened, but I know you saved his life, because he wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t started wrestling.”
Because Texas is one of nine states that uses birth certificates to determine the gender of student athletes, Beggs was forced to wrestle girls rather than boys. And because Beggs had been so public about his transition — sharing videos of his progress on social media — sports families began buzzing about it every time Beggs had a wrestling tournament.
“You have to wrestle against girls — but you really want to wrestle against guys,” Beggs said. “You beat girls, but technically you are a girl, but technically you’re not. It was a no-win situation.”
He added, “It was just a struggle that I hope nobody else has to go through.”
At the 2017 regional state tournament, one of his female competitors refused to wrestle him at her parent’s suggestion. As he advanced to the state championship, a parent filed an injunction to stop him from competing.
His use of testosterone made his participation in the competitions even more controversial, as people assumed he had an advantage against his opponents.
But a state law said that because Beggs’s medication was being legally issued by a physician, it wasn’t the same as taking performance enhancing drugs and he couldn’t be disqualified for it.
Mack won the state championship in 2017 amid a mixture of cheers and boos. Afterwards, he was rushed off to the locker room as the stadium floor was swarming with cameras and journalists.
The next year, he would win again. He also began competing outside of school, at competitions that allowed (or were forced to allow) him to compete as a boy.
Beggs also took to advocating for trans rights publicly early on and spoke up against bathroom bill legislation that would have banned trans people from bathrooms of their gender.
Asked about his view of the current onslaught of anti-trans bills today, he said, “I think it’s disgusting.”
“I think it’s revolting and honestly appalling that they’re trying to pass all these bills at the same time,” he continued. “Sports are supposed to be an outlet for kids. The most important thing about sports is learning these life lessons and getting these tools in order to go through life.”
Beggs knows that from experience. That’s why, he believes he can confidently say that there is no advantage for trans youth over their cisgender competitors.
“I can say that I was biologically a woman, so technically there was no advantage. And I made sure there was no advantage because when I was on testosterone, I took a hormone blocker on top of taking my hormones,” he explained, “so it wasn’t just my estrogen being depleted, but it was also the synthetic hormone testosterone that I was also putting inside my body that was also decreasing.”
Beggs also goes further to explain that “I probably could have messed up my body in high school because of that, and I honestly don’t know what the biological factors are or what hormonal factors will do to me in the future,” he said.
“I just think, you know, let these [trans] kids live in their truth.”
After high school, Beggs began attending Life University and competed as a man on the collegiate level as a walk-on athlete. He has not competed since 2019 but continues to play and navigate sports.
“I do think it’s going to get better for trans athletes and sports,” Beggs said. “The next generation, they have a fire inside of them.”
Beggs told LGBTQ Nation in 2019 that he had previously tried pole-vaulting, soccer, basketball, and softball but, “Wrestling gives you a purpose to look at life in a whole different way and to take it on and not sit back and do nothing about your life.”
“I always enjoyed sports. I never had anybody that was negative towards me. It was a different outlet to channel a lot of the anxiety and hatred and depression I had when I was younger and coping, trying to figure out who I was.”