If all you saw was the headline “Trans teen wins wrestling title,” you’d assume that what happened here was what Tucker Carlson warned about a few days ago — an athlete born male, with all of the physical advantages that implies, had decided to compete in a women’s event and scored an easy victory. Not exactly. Mack Beggs was born female, is transitioning to male, and agrees that she should be wrestling in the boys’ division. Ironically, though, the state won’t allow it. Texas rules provide that an athlete must be classified according to his/her biological gender, probably to avert the very scenario Carlson imagined of boys identifying as girls in order to compete against physically inferior opponents. So Beggs was stuck wrestling girls. As for the testosterone supplements she’s taking to make her body more masculine, the state can’t penalize Beggs for using them because they’re being prescribed for a medical reason, i.e. her transition. The result is a Catch-22 in which a girl becoming a boy gets to compete against the former while enjoying some of the benefits of being the latter.
A wrestler in a different weight class who’s watched Beggs over the years insists that the testosterone doesn’t explain why she’s so successful.
Arlington Sam Houston’s Destiny Dominguez, the state champion at 102, pounds has wrestled Beggs previously and didn’t have a problem with it.
“It’s nothing strength-wise as a wrestler,” Dominguez said. “It’s not how strong you are. It’s your mentality, how you wrestle.”
Dominguez said “there was really no difference” in Beggs this year compared to previous years.
I’ll leave it to people who know the sport better than I do to confirm or debunk that. Worth noting, though: Beggs was 52-0 this year and demolished her opponent in the state final, 12-2. You can watch that match (against Chelsea Sanchez) in its entirety in the second clip on this page. Note the booing at the end amid the cheers when Beggs is declared the winner. Her last title came just a week ago in a regional tournament when her opponent forfeited the final rather than face her. The parent of a different wrestler actually filed suit challenging Beggs’s eligibility on grounds that her extra strength from the testosterone could pose a physical risk to her opponents in matches. A lingering question: If Beggs agrees that it’s unfair for her to compete against females, why does she choose to compete at all?
Or … does she agree that it’s unfair? A spokesman for an LGBT group in Texas told Reuters that the state’s rules should be updated “so that guys like Mack can wrestle with their peers, which would be on the boys’ team.” But it’s not clear to me whether he feels that way because he agrees that Beggs has an unfair physical advantage against girls or whether he feels that way because he believes, as a rule, that the state should classify people according to the gender they identify with, not their biological gender. This isn’t necessarily about fairness for Beggs and her opponents, in other words; the demand that she be allowed to wrestle boys may simply be about forcing the state to recognize that she’s a boy. And if that’s true then Carlson’s scenario isn’t so far-fetched. A boy who says he’s a girl because he wants to wrestle girls would have to be allowed to wrestle girls. He’d receive plenty of hazing for that from his peers, especially if it seemed like his “transition” was merely a ruse to make him eligible to compete against weaker opponents (Beggs’s transition obviously isn’t a ruse), so the cultural pressure might help avert what Carlson is worried about. But the state’s own rules might not if activists prevail here.