For Pride month, we’ve dedicated each day of June to an individual athlete or coach whose shining moment changed LGBTQ sports.
Today, we’re looking back at Feb. 24, 2018, when trans wrestler Mack Beggs won his second consecutive Texas state championship and continued fighting to be allowed to compete according to his gender identity.
In the winter of 2018, wrestler Mack Beggs won his second straight Texas high school state wrestling championship with his second straight undefeated season. He was then booed by the crowd.
This wasn’t a pro wrestling match and Beggs wasn’t channeling his inner Honky Tonk Man. Beggs was a trans boy being forced to wrestle cisgender girls thanks to an outdated Texas state law that mandated high school wrestlers compete according to the gender they were assigned at birth.
Beggs had appealed to the state to wrestle with other boys but Texas school authorities resolutely refused to recognize that trans men are men. Meanwhile, some crowds watching his matches decided they didn’t like the idea of a boy wrestling girls and treated him like the second coming of Andy Kaufman.
In other words, Texas didn’t recognize that Mack Beggs was a boy but Texans did. Beggs summed it up well: “Technically, I did win but I didn’t win. It’s a fucked situation.”
Beggs tuned out the noise and competed. Wrestling for Trinity High School, he took home his first state title in 2017 and was named Outsports Male Hero of the Year for both his championship and perseverance in the face of state sanctioned ignorance.
Then in 2018, he did it all again, going 36-0 on the season and defeating Chelsea Sanchez by a 15-3 decision to win back-to-back state titles.
From there, Beggs enrolled at Life University where he was finally allowed to compete on a men’s wrestling team. He also was featured in two documentaries: an ESPN short entitled “Mack Wrestles” and “Changing the Game,” a film telling the story of three high school trans athletes.
Mack Beggs called attention to an unjust law, kept winning titles, and finally ended up achieving his goal of wrestling on a men’s team. That’s worth cheering for the rest of his life.
We’ll bring you another Moment of Pride tomorrow and every this month.