Transgender Student to Compete With Girl Wrestlers

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – A female-to-male transgender wrestler will compete for a Texas state championship Friday after a court refused to block him from competing against girls.

Mack Beggs, 17, a junior at Euless Trinity High School, won a regional championship earlier this month after two of his opponents forfeited over concerns that he has a competitive advantage due to drugs and hormones he is taking as part of his female-to-male transition.

Carrying a 52-0 record, Beggs’ first round match will be at the Berry Center in Cypress, a suburb of Houston.

Pratik Khandelwal, a parent of another female wrestler, filed a class action lawsuit in Tarrant County Court against the nonprofit University Interscholastic League on Feb. 7. He alleges the UIL is violating the Texas Education Code and Health and Safety Code by not suspending Beggs for taking testosterone. Khandelwal also asked the court to block Beggs’ participation in girls’ wrestling.

“The UIL has actual knowledge that M.B. has taken anabolic steroids (testosterone) but refuses to suspend her,” the 11-page complaint states. “The UIL does not deny that it has jurisdiction to suspend this athlete but rather apparently contends that this athlete is allowed to take steroids (to cheat) and still maintains eligibility because of a ‘safe harbor’ provision [in the Education Code] which allows athletes to take steroids under very limited circumstances if they have a ‘valid medical purpose.’”

Khandelwal argues the medical exception does not apply because the UIL allegedly has evidence of Beggs not being given the drugs by a doctor – instead, he says videos and photographs show Beggs injecting himself at home. He also claims the steroids are not for a “valid” medical purpose, citing successful efforts by the transgender community to remove gender identity disorder from being classified as a disease by the American Psychiatric Association.

“Therefore, the fact that M.B. seeks to describe herself as ‘transgender’ does not in any way mean that she has any kind of ‘disease or infirmity’ that would allow her to maintain eligibility and take steroids,” the complaint states.

The UIL requires public school officials to use an athlete’s birth certificate to determine his or her gender. Critics contend the requirement violates the UIL’s constitution and Title IX laws. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, on the other hand, bans athletes who transition from female to male from competing on women’s teams while taking testosterone, but it allows them to compete on men’s teams.

Khandelwal further claims Beggs has injured his competitors this season due to alleged “roid rage,” which he says “is simply not found” in girls’ athletics.

“The UIL is endangering the health of the girls who will compete against M.B. by requiring them to either forfeit their match or compete against someone who is cheating,” the complaint states. “While this is obviously an issue of fairness, it is also a safety issue,” it continues. “The UIL is failing and refusing to enforce its own rules and the law and is applying positions that are medically indefensible.”

The UIL has declined to comment on Beggs’ case.

Khandelwal’s attorney, James R. Baudhuin, of Coppell, said he read unconfirmed reports that Beggs unsuccessfully petitioned the UIL to compete against boys.

Baudhuin told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the lawsuit is not “personal,” nor a “hatred issue” against Beggs.

“Mack is a great kid, hard-working, great kid,” Baudhuin said. “We just don’t think it’s fair that Mack should wrestle, either be allowed or should be required to wrestle against girls.”

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