For the second year in a row, a transgender wrestler has won the Texas girls' Class 6A 110-pound division.
Mack Beggs, 18, a senior at Euless Trinity High School near Dallas, entered the tournament in Cypress outside Houston with an undefeated record. He beat Chelsea Sanchez — whom he beat for the title in 2017— in the final match Saturday.
Video posted online showed a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd following Beggs' win.
Beggs is transitioning from female to male and taking a low dose of testosterone.
It was Beggs' steroid therapy treatments while wrestling girls that stirred a fierce debate about competitive fairness and transgender rights last season. It's been a lot quieter since last year, when Beggs' march to a state championship was dogged by a last-minute lawsuit that tried to stop him.
Beggs had asked to wrestle in the boys' division, but the rules for Texas public high schools require athletes to compete under the gender on their birth certificate.
Beggs entered the state tournament with a 32-0 record, beating three female wrestlers on his way to the championship.
"He has so much respect for all the girls he wrestles," said Beggs' mother, Angela McNew. "People think Mack has been beating up on girls. ... The girls he wrestles with, they are tough. It has more to do with skill and discipline than strength."
McNew wouldn't make Beggs available for interviews ahead of the state meet. The solitude allowed him to concentrate on the task ahead and perhaps shield him from attacks on social media and occasional insults from the stands — or even other wrestling mats — during meets.
Beggs' road to the championship last season included two forfeits in the regional tournament by wrestlers who feared injury. Beggs faced only one forfeit this season. The opposing coach and teammates had insisted that the girl wrestle Beggs, but she refused, McNew said.
Beggs' family has repeatedly said he wants to wrestle boys. The birth certificate rule was approved in 2016 by the University Interscholastic League, or UIL, the governing body for Texas high school sports. It was done to help schools determine competition, said Jamie Harrison, the UIL's deputy director.