Sports commentator Dale Hansen made a national name for himself when he took to the airwaves and delivered an incredible three-minute advocation of Michael Sam and gay athletes. His natural brand of straight talk — basic concepts, simple language, delivered flat and matter-of-fact — resonated with millions.
Hansen hit another home run last week when he took on the struggle of Texas high school wrestler Mack Beggs, a transgender boy who has been forced by state policy to wrestle against girls.
"As I said when I wrote about Missouri football player Michael Sam, I'm not always comfortable when a man tells me he's gay,” Hansen said last week. “I don't understand his world. But I do understand he's part of mine. And I'm saying the same thing now about Mack Beggs. Transitioning is a struggle I cannot imagine. It is a journey I could not make and it is a life too many cannot live.”
Could anyone have summed up Beggs’ predicament any better?
Even more, I don’t think he could have more efficiently demonstrated the crux of the issue here. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s not about whether someone fully understands the life of a transgender person or not.
The issues raised by Mack Beggs’ participation is about making him a part of our world and keeping him that way.
What Hansen understands inherently is that it’s not his role to speak for the LGBT community; It is his role to share his perspective — and even his prejudices — honestly, lift up the lives and struggles of those who are disenfranchised, and give people who refuse to accept people not like them something to chew on.
His version of straight talk is just what the doctor ordered, particularly in an area of the country like Texas that often struggles to advance equality and understanding of LGBT people. Heck, many Texas policymakers refuse to accept the very existence of transgender people.
Hansen cuts through all of that. Instead of using big words and complicated concepts like “heteronormativity” and “privilege,” he speaks the language of many of the people he most intends to reach with his message: A bunch of old men in Austin (and across the state)...
"He needs our support, and he does not need a group of old men in Austin telling him who to wrestle because of a genetic mix-up at birth. We have argued long enough about birth certificates. It's an argument that needs to end. You don't have to understand. I don't understand.
“But Mack Beggs is not the problem so many people make him out to be. He's a child simply looking for his place in the world and a chance to compete in the world. Do we not really not have the simple decency to allow him at least that?
“Because it seems to me it's the very least we can do.”