The Texas University Interscholastic League’s decision is not necessarily eternal, but the transgender rule in place did the trick to screw it up. Its decision regarding transgender athletes isn’t consistent with the sports it governs.
Sports is about competition. About improving. About proving yourself against superior competitors. About pushing your body and mind to places where you might not think they can go at all.
What the Texas UIL did to Euless Trinity wrestler Mack Beggs, and all of his competitors, was not sport. It is a rule designed and addressed by a bunch of people who don’t know what the hell to do with a transgender person because the thought of it makes them uncomfortable.
The idea of transgender makes a lot of people uncomfortable because people don’t get it. I don’t get it, but I don’t get a lot of things — like the Kardashians. The Calgary Flames. Or Lane Kiffin.
Just because someone doesn’t “get” something does not make it wrong.
Beggs is a junior at Euless Trinity who is transitioning from female to male. Over the weekend in Cypress, near Houston, Beggs completed a 56-0 season to win a girls wrestling state championship. By all firsthand accounts, which includes one from the Star-Telegram’s Jeff Caplan, the title match wasn’t close.
This was akin to comedian Andy Kaufman winning the Inter-Gender wrestling belt. Only this was not a joke.
Beggs was booed and cheered, and supported by his teammates and opponents. It’s the norm in youth sports that the children behave like adults while the adults behave like children.
Beggs’ preference is to wrestle boys, to which the UIL says no. Its standard policy says that if you were born female, you’re competing against females. If you’re born a male, you’re competing against a male. If you think this sounds like the proposed toilet law you would be correct.
A transgender will never “work” in the traditional, conventional sense of sport but if the competitor is “playing up” to another level, it flies. Because playing up is sport.
Why did no one file a lawsuit against, or whine, when Paschal female student Reilly Fox played for the football team and lined up as a kicker? Pretty sure she was born a girl and competing against males.
The TCU women’s basketball team, and countless others all over the country, routinely play against men’s players in practice. The concept is simple — the competition makes the women’s players better.
Ask some of the best women’s basketball players in the nation and many of them will tell you they learned to play against their brothers or their male friends.
There were many complaints when LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam played in the 2003 Colonial in Fort Worth, but not because of any advantage. She had established herself as the best LPGA golfer and wanted to see how she could do against the PGA players, and cash a large check, too.
The complaints were that her addition to the field was more about a gimmick to sell tickets than sport, which is exactly what it was. The priority in pro sports is about cash and moving product, which means the “integrity of the game” is a secondary consideration ... if it’s a consideration at all. But Annika was playing up, competing against men, and was at a decided disadvantage; she did not make the cut and finished near the bottom.
It was not like watching Rickie Fowler test his skills and talents against Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko and the best the LPGA offers in the Indy Women in Tech Championship Presented by Guggenheim.
Because there is always Caster Semanya. The South African runner is the most divisive figure in this debate. She reportedly has testosterone levels three times that of a woman, and has no ovaries or womb.
She has protested to compete as a female, and gender testing says she “passes the test.” Watching her blow away her female opponents in the Olympics is awkward, sad and embarrassing.
Dominance in a fair sense is admirable and enviable; dominance in this fashion looks like cheating, even if it doesn’t fit into the classically outlined definition.
At a minimum, Semanya is playing down.
To Beggs’ credit, he never wanted this. He has been undergoing treatment to transition to a male for years and has been living as a male. Looking at him, he looks like a 17-year-old boy.
He wanted to compete against boys, and is willing to assume the risk of getting his butt kicked by superior competition. Because that’s sport.
But the Texas UIL gender rule is the rule, and according to reports it’s not about to be modified. Not even when other governing bodies have ruled opposite to the Texas UIL.
The NCAA says a trans male athlete who is receiving testosterone treatment must compete on a men’s team. That rule was put in place in 2011. The IOC re-made its transgender rules to permit transitioning female-to-male athletes to compete as men; this international sport governing body made this modification in 2016.
And yet here we sit on the verge of the third month of 2017 and the Texas UIL is dug in on a rule that is not terribly complicated even if the situation is.
Let’s make it easy — as long as the kid is “playing up” let it go.