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- Mack Beggs, a transgender man who is a former Texas high school wrestling champion, competed against girls in 2017 and 2018 because the state’s athletic governing body barred him from competing with other boys.
A years-old image showing a man pinning a female opponent during a high school wrestling match has resurfaced on Facebook in recent months, with commentary that creates a misleading impression of what the photo depicts.
"They are not courageous transgender athletes," the overlay text on the photo reads. "They are just boys beating up on girls."
The wrestler is Mack Beggs, who is a transgender man. Beggs, who was an 18-year-old student at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, at the time the photo was snapped, won the 2017 and 2018 Class 6A girls state wrestling championships, according to reporting at the time from the Dallas Morning News.
The text on the image gives the impression that Beggs competed against girls in order to gain an unfair advantage. That’s misleading.
The Texas organization that oversees scholastic athletics — the University Interscholastic League — said at the time that Beggs was not permitted to compete against other boys because his gender identity didn’t correspond with the sex recorded on his birth certificate. He had to compete based on the sex he was assigned at birth, which meant wrestling against girls.
The Morning News reported that Beggs was taking testosterone supplements to support his transition. The same policy that prohibited Beggs from competing against other boys also states that athletes who take hormones for medical purposes don’t surrender their eligibility to compete.
Beggs was quoted in news stories as saying that he was willing to compete against boys but could not do so because of the league policy.
"Boys wrestling is hard. It’s really, really hard," he told the Morning News in 2018 after his second consecutive state title, "but I’ll do it. If it means wrestling with the guys, I’ll do it. It doesn’t invalidate how I wrestle and how my technique is. If I get beat, I get beat."
A bill in Texas would have codified the University Interscholastic League policy into state law and required transgender student athletes to compete on teams based on the sex they were assigned at birth. It failed to advance ahead of a legislative deadline in May.
Facebook post, May 23
The Dallas Morning News, Amended lawsuit filed to keep transgender wrestler Mack Beggs from competing in 2017-18, Feb. 28, 2017
The Dallas Morning News, Euless Trinity's transgender wrestler Mack Beggs wins both Region 2-6A matches Friday with little gusto, Feb. 16, 2018
Agence France-Presse, Wrestling photo mischaracterized in posts about trans athletes, April 23, 2021