COMMENTARY: Champion transgender wrestler deserves congratulations

For some, high school is four years that can be later reflected on pleasantly: a simple time, an easier time, a time that didn’t require a constant inhalation of coffee to endure.

However, for many marginalized people, later reflection is not so pleasant.

Transgender youth face an especially trying time during this period — one worsened by Donald Trump’s administration’s support of removing protection for transgender students using the bathroom of their gender.

These students not only get the normal trials of high school, but also added joys of stigma and microaggression, which, incidentally, reared it’s head in the recent case of Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old trans male who was forced to compete as a female wrestler under University Interscholastic League rules.

Texas is not adept when it comes to the treatment of LGBT individuals, and the decision to base a competitor’s gender on their birth certificate is a testament to that ineptitude.

If Beggs were a college wrestler, NCAA rules would require him to compete with men alone.

Beggs, who is taking testosterone, expressed his desire to wrestle with the boys, but the rules prohibited him from wrestling against anyone except girls.

When he won the Texas girl’s state championship a few weeks ago, there was an uproar as to whether or not it was fair, as testosterone aids in strength and building muscle.

While his use of testosterone is within UIL guidelines, it is worth asserting quite plainly that Beggs is not at fault in this situation, but rather the guidelines, as they limit him based upon cisnormative concepts of gender.

While the solution is rather simple (just let him compete as a boy), it does serve to both expose hypocrisy within cisnormative mindsets as well as introduce the increasingly pertinent conversation of transgender athletes.

The former primarily concerns the paradox of Beggs’ situation: they do not wish for him to compete as a boy, because that goes against pre-existing notions of gender and gender binaries, yet there is dissent and uproar when he succeeds within the girls league, as he clearly does not belong there.

It exposes the reality that many would simply prefer transgender people to not exist, and therefore complicate their existence, a reality that must be addressed if we wish to make any sort of claim towards justice in the U.S.

Trans visibility is on the rise in the U.S., and exposes complications of inequality in the sporting world.

Should people be allowed to participate regardless of their gender? Should it be regulated to only the gender they were assigned at birth?

As for right now, Beggs is deserving of only congratulations for his achievements in UIL wrestling.

He put in a lot of effort and training, more than many are willing to put in, and he deserves recognition and accolades where they are due, regardless of sexist and cisnormative rules.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my teammates,” Beggs said to the media upon winning. “That’s honestly what the spotlight should’ve been on, my teammates.”