This weekend, Mack Beggs became the first transgender person to win a Class 6A girls' state championship in Texas high school wrestling. The junior at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, began transitioning from female to male two years ago. He began taking testosterone, which some coaches and parents say gives Beggs an unfair advantage.
Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks with Beggs about his win and what it's like to be a teenaged transgender athlete in Texas.
On his reaction to being in the national media
"It's pretty wild. I never thought it would even make it past my local newspaper. Like ever. Some people were just sitting here last night and getting stuff done, and I was like ‘Woah, this is for real.’ I'm in shock, I really am in shock."
On the championship match, being booed and wrestling with the girls instead of the boys
"I wanted to win. That's what I put in my mind. I said to myself, ‘I worked hard for this. I did everything in my power, everything that I could do in order to be here right now, and I deserve to be here.’ And I wanted to win. Because that was the first time that I'd ever done something that huge in my life. It was such a good feeling and such a place to be at that moment — it was just the greatest feeling in the world."
"To be honest, I didn't even hear them [the crowd members booing]. I didn't hear anything. I was just in shock that I won it. I had look at my coach and look at the scoreboard a couple times because I just couldn't believe that it was finally over and that I finally did it."
"I do really wish that I could wrestle the guys. That's something that I really want to try to change."
On the people who think it's unfair that he's taken testosterone
"Yeah, and that's something that people who disagree or are commenting negatively about it, they don't understand. They don't understand the science that's actually what's behind it for HRT and transitioning for trans people. What they don't understand, because it's not just like a regular cis male or cis female putting testosterone in their body. I'm having to slowly increase my dosage over a long period of time. If I put too much then it could affect me negatively medically. And that's what people don't understand. They're just afraid. They're afraid of the facts and what actually could be the possibility that, well maybe, I'm just going to blame it on this kid because now this kid is winning. And, it's messed up. It's a messed up situation."
"I'm not taking enough in order for it to give me an advantage at all. I'm not even taking enough for me to be at normal levels, and that's just the facts. And I'm being very open about that with people, even though it might take away some of my manhood. But you know, that's what it is."
On facing discrimination
"Well, I talked to my former wrestlers and my opponents. I talked to them and it doesn't seem like they have a problem. They're so supportive, and they just say, ‘I'm so sorry that you're in this situation. You're a phenomenal wrestler, and I just think it's messed up what they're doing.’ And I've begun to realize that it's not these kids. They just want to wrestle just as much as I want to wrestle. And that's just what comes down to it. And these parents — I understand their concern, but they don't even want to understand or begin to understand what's the truth, and they just want to assume. That's what makes me mad is just assuming and just wanting to put a blanket over what the truth is because they're afraid."
"I've been getting a lot of supportive and positive feedback from students. I'm very fortunate to be able to experience that. Nothing negative."
"I do really wish that I could wrestle the guys. That's something that I really want to try to change."Mack Beggs
On his experience with the trans bathrooms or locker rooms controversy
"The issue of me staying in the females’ locker room and bathroom, but I understand why I can't go into the males’ right now because if I change and I change in front of the guys, how would they feel. Honestly, I don't even think of my own comfort. I think of other people's comfort. I would understand to where if I were to change in the males’ locker room, I don't have the proper, you know, equipment to be able to change in front of them as well. It's just really confusing, and it's a weird situation. But I'm fortunate enough to have a team where they accommodate for me and they want to make sure that I feel comfortable. They're super supportive, and they all understand. And I'm very fortunate to have a team like that."
"Yes, I do. I'm going to be talking to my coaches and athletic staff and seeing if I can use the males’ locker room here pretty soon and discuss that with them."
On whether he'll wrestle next year
"Yes. I'll have to be, unfortunately, wrestling with the females again because the UIL (University Interscholastic League) already made a statement right after states saying that it's not going to affect my senior year if they do make any chances. So unfortunately, that's a bummer and that sucks, but it is what it is. And I will keep on fighting for it to get the law changed, but it's not going to affect my career at the moment. But it sure is going to affect someone else's in the future."
On his advice for other trans athletes
"I would say just follow your heart and whatever you feel like you need to do. Don't let anyone tell you differently, don't let anyone steer you from the path that you want to take. Just keep going with what you want to do and don't let anyone affect that and stop you."
On whether he's had to focus on a political issue rather than sport
"I really do feel like that, but I'm still with my team, still doing everyday stuff and doing what I do as I'm still a kid. And I don't want all of this to take that away. Take away from my only time that I can enjoy being a kid. So, I'm just living it day by day and seeing what opportunities roll by. This is a huge opportunity for my team and for myself and just to advocate for my sport and then advocate for the LGBT community."
On his family's reaction
"My family's been good. A little hair pulling a little now and then. They all just can't believe this just as much as I — we're just really excited about all this. Just being able to advocate for trans athletes. And that's something that I've always wanted to do, and I'm finally able to do it."
This segment aired on March 1, 2017.
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