Watch: Trans Wrestler Forced to Compete with Women Says 'It Took a Toll' on His Mental Health

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday March 28, 2021
Originally published on March 26, 2021

As state governments across introduce anti-trans bills to protect girls' sports from transgender athletes, one former high school wrestler recounts how being forced to compete with girls took an agonizing mental toll.

Now nearly 22 years old, Mack Beggs says he's still struggling with the trauma he endured, Yahoo! News reports.

"The former high school Texas state wrestling champion... gained national media attention throughout 2017 and 2018 for participating in the women's competition as a transgender man," Yahoo! News recalled. He won the state championship in girls' wrestling for his weigh category in 2017.

"You have to wrestle against girls — but you really want to wrestle against guys," Beggs said. "You beat girls, but technically you are a girl, but technically you're not.

"It was a no-win situation," he summarized. "It was just a struggle that I hope nobody else has to go through."

The experience left lasting scars. Beggs said he was in a "very dark place" in his first year of college, and "had to seek out help" after being at the center of a charged - and highly politicized - struggle.

Yahoo News recounted that while in high school, "Beggs — who was born female and transitioned to male — was sued by a parent of one of the female wrestlers he was competing against."

The account added: "Beggs wanted to compete against men, but a state ban limited transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate."

In 2017, Texas lawmakers in the Texas House passed a bill that would have banned trans athletes like Beggs from competing at all. The bill did not advance in the state senate.

Beggs was 17 at the time. "Mentally, it took a toll on me," he recalled.

Since then, attacks on trans youth from state governments have intensified, with 30 states reportedly either mulling such laws or passing them. Among other recent legislative attacks, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed an anti-trans athlete bill into a law on March 11; and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a similar bill on March 25.

North Carolina's state lawmakers, despite having seen their state suffer economically after the 2016 passage of HB2 - the infamous "bathroom bill" - filed such a bill of their own on March 22.

The origin of these legislative attacks is no mystery - and not a surprise. "The bills come from conservative organizations with a history of targeting the LGBT community, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Eagle Forum," noted Yahoo! News.

Beggs called the multi-state, coordinated efforts "disgusting" and "revolting," and disputed the narrative that trans athletes have an unfair edge. "I can say that I was biologically a woman, so technically there was no advantage."

Besides, he said, "I took a hormone blocker on top of taking my hormones. So it wasn't just my estrogen being depleted, but it was also the synthetic hormone testosterone that I was also putting inside my body that was also decreasing."

Beggs wrestled for three years in college, but now has stepped away from the sport. He says he is now "training for MMA jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai," in which he may compete as a man. He offered his own prescription for how to address the issue of trans athletes: "I just think, you know, let these kids live in their truth."

To watch the Yahoo! News video, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.