Although Mack Beggs identifies as a boy and is physically transitioning, he won the University Interscholastic League (UIL) state championship competing against girls, and the backlash highlights the heated debate over policies on gender identity.
Beggs started to identify as a male five years ago and then started physically transitioning in 2015, according to CNN. The transition hormones are significant because some male hormones have the potential to enhance athletic performance.
"Testosterone and anabolic steroids are in the same family and have the effect of increasing muscle mass and strength gains," Dr. Brandon Mines, assistant professor at Emory University's Department of Orthopedics, told CNN. Beggs is able to compete while taking the hormones because they are administered by a doctor for a "valid medical purpose."
The teenager's family and friends have told the media that Begg's would rather wrestle boys, if given the chance, a fact that even opponents of his high school wrestling career recognize.
"The more I learn about this, the more I realize that she's [sic] just trying to live her [sic] life and her [sic] family is, too," Attorney Jim Baudhuin, who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to prevent Beggs from competing while taking testosterone, told the Associated Press.
Last year, 95 percent of the superintendents in the UIL, the state's governing body for public school student athletes, voted to amend the constitution to require athletes to compete as the gender on their birth certificate. Updating a birth certificate with a new gender in Texas is not a simple task. It requires a court order for a change of sex and an application to amend the birth certificate with an application fee. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, some judges in Texas are reluctant to give the court order.
Texas lawmakers are also currently considering a so-called "bathroom bill," Senate Bill 6, that would require public school students and anyone in a government building to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate, similar to a controversial law in North Carolina.
The Beggs' debate comes as President Donald Trump's administration rescinded federal guidance from the Obama administration, which advised schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.
Begg's did not directly address any of the surrounding political issues after his win, but instead thanked his team for their hard work.
"I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my teammates," he reportedlysaid. "That's honestly what the spotlight should have been on, is my teammates ... we trained hard every single day."