Mack Beggs identifies as a boy, but his birth certificate says he’s a girl. In Texas’ University Interscholastic League, that means that the high school wrestler can only compete against girls, even though he takes testosterone as part of his transition.
On Saturday, Mack won the girls 6A state wrestling title in the 110-pound weight class. The 17-year-old junior at Euless Trinity now has an overall record of 56-0, with one year of eligibility remaining.
Mack’s state title was a controversial one, with many people feeling his testosterone treatments give him an unfair advantage over the other wrestlers. Boos could be heard among the cheers as he celebrated following a 12-2 win over Chelsea Sanchez in the championship bout.
"Honestly, I didn't even care about the boos," he told CNN. "This is what I worked for. It finally paid off."
Mack has been taking testosterone supplements for two years, and some people liken that to taking performance-enhancing steroids. Dr. Brandon Mines, assistant professor at Emory University's Department of Orthopedics, told CNN, "testosterone and anabolic steroids are in the same family and have the effect of increasing muscle mass and strength gains."
Patti Overstreet, the mother of a wrestler in the boys’ division, said of Mack at the state tournament: “She’s standing there holding her head high like she’s the winner. She’s not winning. She’s cheating.”
Overstreet added: “If you want to play the games, you have to play it fair. I don’t care what sex you are. Don’t go on the mat with enhancement if my kid can’t.”
Mack’s school district has determined that his testosterone was “well below the allowed level,” according to the Washington Post.
Still, some girls have chosen to forfeit their matches against Beggs, including both of his scheduled opponents in the previous week’s regional tournament. A lawsuit was filed earlier this month to get the University Interscholastic League to either allow Mack to compete against boys or prevent him from taking part the girls’ postseason competition, but no decision has been reached.
For now, at least, the league is sticking with its guidelines that state athletes’ gender is determined by what’s on their birth certificates, the league said in a statement Friday. Mack told CNN he’d prefer to wrestle boys but hasn’t tried challenging the rules out of fear that he could end up being barred from the sport altogether.
"I would rather have a chance to compete than not compete at all," he said.
After winning at the state tournament, Mack focused his comments on training and his teammates.
“I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my teammates,” he told reporters. “That's honestly what the spotlight should have been on, is my teammates. The hard work that I put in in the practice room with them, beside me — we trained hard every single day. Every single day, and that's where the spotlight should have been on. Not me. All of these guys. Because I would not be here without them.”