Texas teen Mack Beggs is officially the winner of the University Interscholastic League Class 6A women’s 110-pound weight class. The problem is the win is going to be considered “tainted” for a variety of reasons. For one, Beggs is a girl transitioning to be a boy, and UIL rules prevent him from wrestling as a boy. AP wrote about this earlier today, and the piece raises some good questions, including why did Beggs choose to wrestle at all if he thinks it’s unfair. I can’t answer that question, and it’s something only Beggs can answer. One would guess it was because he was the best wrestler on the female team, despite the fact he’s a girl becoming a boy. Beggs credited his teammates for making him a better wrestler.
“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.”
A lot of people are blaming UIL rules for not letting Beggs compete as a boy, and there is some validity to the criticism. After all, they did approve the new guidelines last year, obviously hoping to keep a guy from wrestling girls because he identified as a girl. They’re now probably going to have to go back and amend the rules following Beggs’ win.
One thing which is interesting, and I don’t know if Beggs’ family has answered this question, is the fact Texas families can petition a court to have a birth certificate changed. But the Texas Family Code’s rules on name changes doesn’t include gender.
Sec. 45.002. REQUIREMENTS OF PETITION. (a) A petition to change the name of a child must be verified and include:
(1) the present name and place of residence of the child;
(2) the reason a change of name is requested;
(3) the full name requested for the child;
(4) whether the child is subject to the continuing exclusive jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155; and
(5) whether the child is subject to the registration requirements of Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure.
(b) If the child is 10 years of age or older, the child’s written consent to the change of name must be attached to the petition.
The rules are also appear to be unclear on how judges should proceed on gender name changes.
Sec. 45.004. ORDER. (a) The court may order the name of a child changed if:
(1) the change is in the best interest of the child; and
(2) for a child subject to the registration requirements of Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure:
(A) the change is in the interest of the public; and
(B) the person petitioning on behalf of the child provides the court with proof that the child has notified the appropriate local law enforcement authority of the proposed name change.
(b) If the child is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155, the court shall send a copy of the order to the central record file as provided in Chapter 108.
(c) In this section, “local law enforcement authority” has the meaning assigned by Article 62.001, Code of Criminal Procedure.
It’s possible the “best interest of the child” is clear enough for a judge to decide on name changes. But it still doesn’t mention gender, which is the issue. The UIL is going to have to figure out something this year to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
One way they could solve the issue is by amending the birth certificate rule. It’s possible they could allow transgender wrestlers to compete in the gender they identify with, but only after a careful review. AP mentioned Tucker Carlson’s idea about a boy looking to score an “easy victory,” by wrestling girls. UIL could ask for doctoral records on when a guy started taking estrogen. If it’s only been a year (or less than one), then perhaps UIL can say, “Nope…wrestle boys.” The Dallas Morning News reports Beggs has been taking testosterone for over a year.
Nancy Beggs said the wrestler’s medical records were sent to the UIL before the 2015-16 season and again before this season, and Mack was approved to compete.
This is why it’s probably best for the UIL to consider changing its rules when it comes to tournaments. It’s also why there aren’t any winners in this past weekend’s tournament. Here’s hoping Mack Beggs will get to wrestle boys next year. Because that changes the story completely.