Here’s a Dumb Thing

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

This is a good (bad) example of how incoherent anti-transgender policy is in some corners of America.

A Texas state judge has ruled that a transgender boy may continue competing in girls wrestling matches under circumstances that clearly illustrate the incoherence of state law.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A judge has upheld a Texas policy that required a transgender boy taking testosterone to compete in the girls' wrestling tournament, where he won a state title.

A doctor administered the testosterone as part of Mack Beggs' gender transition. The Dallas Morning News reports that a Travis County judge dismissed an attorney's lawsuit that sought to bar the Euless Trinity wrestler from competing.

To be clear, the judge upheld the (bad) policy that requires transgender boys to compete as girls because complainants who challenged the law wanted to prohibit Mack Beggs from competing at all. Complainants charged that allowing Beggs to complete as a girl gave him an unfair advantage over girls because he's taking testosterone. Ruling against the policy would have disqualified Beggs from competing.

Mack Beggs is not a girl, does not look like a girl, and is actively taking testosterone as part of his female to male transition. State law, however, requires that wrestlers compete in wrestling matches that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Texas is effectively forcing a boy to compete as a girl and, if anti-transgender critics don't like it, they should reconsider their stance on transgender rights. Simply saying he should not be allowed to compete as a boy or girl will not fly, because that would almost certainly be unconstitutional.

This would not be an issue at all if athletes were allowed to compete and play on teams that correspond with the gender they identify as, but I don't expect hardliners in the state legislature will understand this is a mess of their own making.

  • muselet

    The judge was faced with two bad options: let Mack Beggs wrestle, albeit in the wrong gender class, under the “safe harbor” provision in the education code, or prohibit him from wrestling. She chose the less lousy alternative, and I can’t blame her for that.

    And no, the Lege will never realize that it and the UIL helped create the situation in the first place.


  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    This would not be an issue at all if athletes were allowed to compete and play on teams that correspond with the gender they identify as

    Not really. It’s a tough question insofar as physical ability is concerned. Consider the reverse case – where an individual was male through puberty and transitioned to female at, say, 17. She would retain all the striated musculature of a teenage boy along with the enlarged heart and lungs. I would question whether it’s “fair” to allow her to compete in a women’s league.

    It’s not about the person’s gender when it comes to sports – it’s about the way their body is built. Women and men are not physically equal – there are pros and cons to both, but by and large, physically, men are strong and more athletic and possess better hand-eye coordination. If a person transitions (M->F) after developing the larger frame, stronger muscles, etc, then it is not fair for her to compete with other females who have not had the benefit of that… err.. let’s call it a “performance enhancement.”

    Conversely, an individual who transitioned (F->M) after development is generally going to be ill-equipped to compete as a male. Testosterone helps here, but he will still (generally) have the smaller frame, smaller heart, smaller lungs, and various other physical difference from the other males with whom he would be competing.

    Put another way: I was pretty fast in high school, but I wasn’t exactly setting world records. Had I transitioned to female, though, and had I been permitted to compete as a female, my times certainly have won state and, maybe, set a few records along the way. How would that have been fair to the girls against whom I would have been competing? I had years of testosterone-driven body development that they did not – could not – have had. I don’t suggest anyone is or would transition for the sole purpose of competing against another gender – just that people who do transition are not magically converted 100% biologically into their identified gender, so your answer seems, to me, simplistic.


    Disclaimer: For all subjects except health (eg, medical needs / insurance rates) and physical activities (including, but not limited to, sports), I see no reason to subject a transitioned individual to any other sort of “double-standard” and, simply – they are whatever they claim to be.

    • I have to agree with you. It’s not simple at all. However Ashby is correct to say that telling them they can’t participate with either gender is definitely not a solution.

    • JMAshby

      If you’re going to separate student athletes by physical ability rather than identity, that’s a slippery slope. There are already differences between one boy to another or one girl to another. 7 foot and 5 foot 9 basketball players play on the same teams and compete against each other. Kids who become enormously tall at a young age aren’t told they can’t compete against other kids their own age who are significantly smaller. It doesn’t work that way.

      You either respect their gender identity and treat them equally, or you don’t. You can’t legislate the level of physical fairness you’re talking about.

      Besides, I don’t think telling an athlete they can’t do something, or can’t overcome some level of adversity, is going to stop them. Certainly not someone competing at the championship level. You say someone transitioning may be ill-equipped, but I think that’s for them to decide.

      • This.

      • Christopher Foxx

        You’re right. And Dread_Priate_Mathius is right.

    • Badgerite

      Well, there is the case of Dr. Rene Richards, formerly Dr. Richard Raskin, who transitioned to a female and sued the USTA (US Tennis Association ) in 1976 to play in the US Open. In 1977, the court ruled in her favor and she lost in the first round to Virginia Wade. She did well. But she had done well as a male. By no means did she blow the other females out of the water. She did the best in doubles competitions. I suppose it depends on the sport.

      • Christopher Foxx

        It depends on the sport, and on the athlete. I’m sure there are lots of examples (all of which I’m too lazy to find right now, but I’m sure do exist) of “weaker” athletes beating “stronger” ones.