Last weekend, a historic high school wrestler’s career came to an end.
After putting together a 132-9 career record and going undefeated as a junior and senior, Mack Beggs defeated Kayla Fitts, along with her 52-0 record, in the Texas girls 6A wrestling champion to win back-to-back state titles.
In situations like this, people would usually be labeling Beggs as one of the best amateur athletes in the country.
But, this is foreign territory.
Because Beggs, the 18-year-old senior from Euless Trinity High, a suburb of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, is a transgender boy on low doses of testosterone who is being forced to wrestle girls.
“The strength definitely was the difference. I didn’t anticipate how strong he was,” said Fitts to the Dallas Morning News after she was defeated by Beggs.
“I understand if you want to transition your gender. I understand that totally. But there’s a time and a place. You can do that after high school. Or if you want to do it, you can quit the sport. Because I don’t think it’s fair at all that you’re taking testosterone. That’s steroids. I know it’s not a lot. But still.”
In Texas, the law says athletes compete against those whose gender matches theirs on their birth certificates. Which is why Beggs has to wrestle girls, despite the fact that he takes 36 milligrams of testosterone a week.
But if Beggs had it his way, things would be different.
“Even though I was put in this position, even though I didn’t want it to be put in this position, even though I wanted to wrestle the guys, I still had to wrestle the girls,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “All I can hope for is that they come to their [senses] and realize this is stupid and we should change the policies to conform to other people in my position.”
Back in 2010, Kye Allums was in a similar position as Beggs. While playing on the women’s team at George Washington University, Allums made history by coming out as the first transgender Division I college basketball player. But to many, all they saw was a man being allowed to play with, and against, women.
And then there is Fallon Fox, maybe the most debated transgender athlete in sports.
Fox is an MMA fighter with a 5-1 record who was born with male anatomy. Fox identifies as a woman and has undergone gender reassignment surgery.
“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night,” said Tamikka Brents after she was defeated by Fox in 2014.
“I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. Her grip was different, I could usually move around in the clinch against other females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch…
“I still disagree with Fox fighting. Any other job or career I say have a go at it, but when it comes to a combat sport, I think it just isn’t fair. At least not until we have more scientific proof that it is or isn’t fair. More research is needed for sure. Like I said, I am not a doctor, I can only say my opinion and I don’t believe that she should be allowed to fight other women.”
According to an article by the New York Times from last year, there isn’t a ton of data out there on the number of transgender high school athletes across the country, as only about 0.6 percent of adults identify as transgender.
So, with so little data, how are high schools, states, universities, athletic conferences and sports organizations supposed to handle transgender athletes?
As a supporter of the LGBTQ community and a believer in equality, I feel that these athletes should be allowed to compete and have a career in athletics just like anyone else.
But, I also believe in fairness.
And how is a high school wrestler on testosterone being allowed to compete against anyone, no matter the sex, fair?
What’s fair about a former member of the U.S. Navy, like Fox, being able to kick, punch, and beat on other women in the sport of mixed martial arts all because she had a surgery?
Maybe as a society, we need to start a division for transgender athletes.
Or would that be insensitive?
What if testosterone was the barrier and any athlete who took it could only compete against the sex they identify as?
To be honest, I don’t have the answers. But I do know that eventually, as a society, we’ll have to come up with some. There’s got to be a way to be fair without being discriminatory. Because in sports, the saying goes, “let the best man/woman win.”
I guess now we just have to make sure the playing field is leveled like never before.
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Carron J. Phillips