A 17-year-old girls’ wrestler who is transitioning to become a boy earned national headlines by winning a Texas girls’ wrestling high school state championship last week.
But could that happen in North Carolina?
Mack Beggs is a wrestler at Euless Trinity High who beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 in the 110-pound weight class Saturday to improve to 57-0 for the season and win the state title. Beggs would prefer to wrestle boys, but the Texas state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates.
Beggs is taking testosterone as part of his transition and critics believe it created an unfair advantage by increasing his strength. Two potential opponents forfeited matches, rather than wrestle him.
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According to N.C. High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker, student-athletes in this state must compete against the gender listed on their birth certificate. However, a girl can participate on a boys’ team when there is no comparable sport for the female. North Carolina does not offer girls’ wrestling, so Beggs would be allowed to wrestle against boys in North Carolina.
“On the flip side,” Tucker said, “if there is a guy, who on his birth certificate is male, and he is now identifying as a female, or is transitioning to become a female, then he would not be able to wrestle on a girls’ team if that school had a girls’ team in that sport.”
Debates over gender have become national talking points, with the Trump administration recently ending federal protections to allow transgender students, like Beggs, to use bathroom facilities based on their gender identity. That’s left states to determine how to handle the issue.
In North Carolina, House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill,” has caused the state to lose millions in economic dollars with the departure of concerts, movie productions and sporting events - including this year’s NBA All-Star Game, - over the passage of the bill. Texas is considering a similar bill, called SB6.
With the number transgender high school athletes increasing nationwide, Tucker said the NCHSAA is monitoring how other states are handling situations similar to Beggs and wants to be positioned to take action quickly, if necessary.
“In North Carolina, we’re continuing to monitor all of these situations,” Tucker said. “We believe in all students having an opportunity to play and do not believe in discrimination, and we want to be in position to write rules and regulations for the N.C. High School Athletic Association that will be non-discriminatory and provide opportunities for all students to play and participate.
“So when it becomes necessary, and our board of directors and membership says we need to seriously think about a transgender policy, we’re prepared to take those steps. We’re researching and looking at what other associations across the country are doing.”