When transgender high school wrestler Mack Beggs won the Texas state girls' wrestling title last month, he was met with cheers from the crowd — but the boos were there, too.
The 17-year-old — who was assigned female at birth — said he's used to hearing slurs (such as "he-she" or "it"), and that it's just due to people being unwilling to understand his situation and realize what he's going through. Their main gripe, per Beggs, is that he's taking testosterone and winning.
"I've been winning before when I didn't have testosterone, but now people want to go crazy," he told Tisha Thompson of Outside the Lines. "You don't even want to understand — that's the ignorance behind it. You don't want to understand, you just automatically want to call me a cheater."
Having made the decision to transition in the eighth grade, Beggs has begun taking weekly shots of testosterone for the past year and a half with the doctor prescribing the lowest dose possible. These shots provide Beggs with testosterone, as there's a hormone blocker implanted in his arm that suppresses his body's naturally created testosterone and estrogen.
"I'm not getting a competitive advantage because my training is what makes me strong," Beggs said, speaking to the fact that he's still wrestling girls even though he identifies as male.
According to the report, the University Interscholastic League — which oversees athletics in Texas public schools — lets kids taking small doses of testosterone if prescribed by a doctor for a valid medical purpose compete. But, as per a Texas law, students must wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Thompson asked Beggs whether he would prefer wrestling boys or girls, to which he replied "definitely boys." And, when Thompson followed that up with asking why, Beggs had the perfect response.
"Because I'm a guy. It just makes more sense," Beggs said, promising that he'd go up against anyone who wanted to wrestle with him. "That's all I want to do. That's why I think I fell in love with this so much. It kind of saved me."
As for how Beggs is getting through any adversity he's facing on or off the mat, he credits himself for having the positivity — despite past thoughts of suicide and acts of self-harm — and the loved ones around him, such as his mother, who helped him determine he was transgender.
"I think just the pep talks that I gave myself and the support system I had around me just had such a great impact to where it got me to where I am today," Beggs said. "Over the years, I've just learned to be optimistic. Maybe I was born this way for a reason. Maybe I have a purpose. Help trans kids, be the best athlete that I can be, and live my life how I want to."
You can watch Beggs' full profile here.