Northeast Tarrant

State title in hand, trans wrestler’s fight to compete next year now begins

Mack Beggs, the transgender boy wrestler from Euless Trinity High School, had barely 24 hours to celebrate his girls state wrestling championship before starting an even bigger battle to save his high school wrestling career.

Beggs, a junior, and his grandmother and guardian, Nancy Beggs, met Monday afternoon with Trinity wrestling coach Travis Clark to discuss potential options just hours after Jim Baudhuin, a Coppell attorney and father of a female wrestler, began the discovery process of the lawsuit he recently filed against the University Interscholastic League.

The suit seeks to ban Beggs, who has been prescribed testosterone since October 2015 as part of a transition process from female to male, from competing against girls next season. It claims that allowing a wrestler to compete on testosterone exposes other female athletes to bodily harm.

“I think we’re going to get pushed into some corners,” Nancy Beggs said Monday. “We may have to make some changes, but we’re not sure what.”

On Thursday, Beggs and his grandmother will meet for his routine visit with his doctor, Ximena Lopez, the founder of the Gender Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support, or GENECIS, program at Dallas’ Children’s Health.

Lopez has seen Beggs for two years and prescribes the testosterone treatment.

Nancy Beggs, who was scheduled to meet with a lawyer Monday night, said she hopes Lopez can “give us clarification that we can release to the public.”

Baudhuin says he and other parents and coaches believe that Beggs should compete in the boys division, which Beggs cannot do under UIL rules because his birth certificate lists him as a female. Baudhuin contends that the testosterone treatment gives Beggs an unfair physical advantage against girls in the same weight class and that testosterone use in Beggs’ case is a performance-enhancing drug and not for a medical purpose.

It made for a contentious state tournament last weekend in the Houston suburb of Cypress. Beggs was booed on several occasions on the way to easily winning the state title in the 110-pound weight class. He was also wildly cheered at times and was hugged and congratulated by many of the female wrestlers at the tournament.

Baudhuin has requested from the UIL all documentation provided to it by Beggs’ family and doctors that led to its decision to allow Beggs to compete in the girls division while under ongoing testosterone treatment.

UIL attorney Darren Gibson, who had the suit transferred from Tarrant County to Travis County, has 30 days to respond.

“It’s Chapter 481 of the Health and Safety Code,” said Baudhuin, referring to what is also known as the Texas Controlled Substance Act. “It has to be medically necessary. If it’s elective — she doesn’t have a disease or illness — she’s choosing to do this. No one says she has to do it now. Mack could have waited till after competing in high school and wouldn’t have the physical advantage she has now.”

Baudhuin contends Beggs’ strength advantage over girl wrestlers will only increase by next season because he will have been undergoing testosterone treatments for more than two years.

Beggs’ grandmother says she doesn’t believe he held a strength advantage over the competition at the state meet. She, along with Beggs’ parents, said that he is receiving minimal levels of testosterone and that his 5-foot-2 frame is not developed as fully as that of a 17-year-old boy.

Nancy Beggs said Beggs’ continued improvement in the sport is a tribute to his work ethic, which this season included studying videotape of his matches and of opponents. Beggs went 56-0 this season.

She said if the UIL changes its rule and allows Beggs to wrestle against boys, he will do that. However, Nancy Beggs said, the family did not ask the UIL prior to this wrestling season to allow Beggs to compete in the boys division.

“He identifies as a boy and wants to do everything as a boy, but he knows he can’t because he’s not big enough,” Nancy Beggs said. “Look at him and the girls he was wrestling — there’s no difference. Skill and technique count in that sport. If anybody sees and watches him over and over on those tapes, you can see those techniques.”

Beggs, formerly known as Mackenzie, also wrestles in non-UIL events with USA Wrestling and has competed as a girl and against girls in all of those meets.

During the UIL state championships, UIL Deputy Executive Director Jamey Harrison repeatedly said that he does not believe the organization will seek to review its birth-certificate rule this summer because of the overwhelming support for it. Last year, more than 600 state school superintendents voted nearly unanimously for the rule.

The NCAA in 2011 issued a policy in which a female athlete transitioning to male and undergoing testosterone treatment is required to compete on a men’s team. The International Olympic Committee prior to the 2016 Games in Brazil issued similar guidelines allowing such athletes to compete against men.

Many medical experts in the field of gender dysphoria (previously labeled gender identity disorder) as well as transgender athletes believe at this stage that Beggs should compete against boys.

Harrison suggested that the main issue is not the UIL rule but rather a state law that lets an athlete who uses testosterone compete if the testosterone is “dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.”

And now Baudhuin hopes to discover what documentation the UIL has that led it to permit Beggs to compete in the girls division.

“I would feel terrible if the judge said Mack cannot wrestle against girls and can’t wrestle at all,” Baudhuin said. “In order of priorities, mine would be, No. 1, Mack would wrestle against the boys and a far, far second is not wrestling at all.”

Jeff Caplan: 817-390-7705, @Jeff_Caplan