His trademark bleach-blonde locks are gone, and the boos he once heard from transphobes have been replaced by cheers from his college wrestling team teammates.
Mack Beggs has never concealed his quest to wrestle as the man he really is. But for the first time, the 19-year-old transgender man is revealing what he endured during his record-breaking, history-making two years in the public eye. He is the focus of a new documentary film that takes audiences behind the scenes of his groundbreaking meets, as well as away from the mat.
“Mack Wrestles” is a 30 for 30 short from ESPN Films, co-directed by Erin Sanger and Taylor Hess. Their film made its debut on March 8 at the SXSW film festival, as the Daily Dot reported prior to the documentary’s premiere.
While his father raves enthusiastically, Beggs downplays his championships — winning the state title in Texas in both 2017 and 2018. He talks about the parents of his competitors booing him at the meet for something he had no control over: being forced to wrestle girls, because of Texas law.
“I still get upset about it sometimes,” Beggs told the Daily Dot. “Yeah, I won two state titles. But I identify as a dude. I couldn’t do anything about it. Technically, I did win but I didn’t win. It’s a fucked situation.”
That won’t ever be a problem for Beggs again, since getting his birth certificate changed to “male” last month.
While news coverage of Beggs has been rampant, often vitriolic, throughout his high school competitions, the wrestler focused on what he does best.
“During my junior year, my coach and my grandma were shielding me from a lot of it,” Beggs said. “I was so focused on wrestling 24/7.”
In 2017, he did step into an advocacy role, recording a public service announcement in support of trans rights for Athlete Ally.
Seeing and reading what he was dealing with on the mat inspired the filmmakers to go deeper.
“We just felt super drawn to him and to this story,” co-director Hess said. “We felt like it was an opportunity to tell a very powerful human story about Mack and his grandmother but also to penetrate what the nature of this law is and to get people to question their assumptions about why certain policies and laws are in place.”
“Mack is a teenager who has been pulled into something so much bigger,” co-director Sanger told the Daily Dot. “It’s a reflection of what’s going on our country right now and how it’s having a serious impact on kids.”
Now a freshman at Life University in Georgia, he’s been recognized by his school, the NAIA and his teammates as the man he is.
He told Outsports last month he’s learned more life lessons in just a few weeks than he ever has. “I’m very blessed and honored to apart of such an amazing program,” said Beggs. “The mindset of this team is definitely a force to be reckoned with. No one is going to be ready for us. I’m excited to be a part of their storm.”