Mack Beggs went viral in 2018 after he went undefeated to win the Texas state wrestling championship. However, Beggs, a transgender man, had been forced for years to compete in the girls’ state tournament. Beggs now competes in college in the NAIA on the men’s wrestling team at Life University –a school with multiple Hidden Opponent Campus Captains. Mack is an active advocate for transgender youth and mental health. He recently sat down with our editors for a quick interview on his career and life in sport.
Hi, my name is Mack Beggs, and I am a transman athlete wrestler and Mixed Martial Artist. I am twenty-two years old and was born/raised out of Euless, Texas. I attend Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and am studying Arts in Human Development and Social Change. I hope to use this degree to be a gender therapist.
How did you get involved with wrestling? Did you play any other sports growing up?
When I was young, I was involved in numerous sports. I had a lot of aggression when I was younger, and I needed a way to channel this. I got involved with wrestling when I was able to first sign up for the off season with Coach Travis Clark and Coach Lynes. I wanted to be involved in a combat sport, and I thought wrestling would be perfect for that.
Tell us a bit more about your transition. When / how did you formally decide to transition? What was that process like for you?
I came out fully in 7th grade because I finally worked out my feelings and knew this was something I did not want to change. It took a lot of therapy sessions, talking with my family, and expressing to them how I felt. They just wanted to make sure I was safe and alive; if I was happy, then they were happy, too.
How did you decide on Life University? Tell us more about your experience as a collegiate athlete.
How I decided on Life was when I was approached by some coaches at a tournament. Being in college leveled up my work ethic, not just the sport itself, but in all aspects of my life. When I visited Life, everyone was so nice and kind. They were supportive and very welcoming. The University and staff made me feel safe, like I could be myself. Wrestling on the guy’s team made me feel like I belong, and Coach Omi Acosta made it a home for me. I felt safe and the team has built me into the person I am today.
How do you take care of your mental health?
Mental health on and off the mat is extremely important to me. Whenever I feel like I am down, I find it important to talk to people within my support system. I use resources like a therapist, my doctors, and my family. They help give me advice when I feel like I am lost.
Tell us more about your LGBTQ+ and mental health advocacy. What are your dreams for the future of trans athletes in sports?
I have thrown myself into my advocacy work so that other trans athletes can have an easier path in the sports world than I did. I want to see a future where everyone can live their truth and play on the sports teams that they want.
Recent state legislatures have been moving to ban trans athletes from youth sports. How does this impact you, the sports world, trans youth, etc?
These legislatures will only be doing more harm than good. It will have an immediate domino effect on transgender youth and adults everywhere –the current generation and the future ones.
What would you say to those who do not believe that trans athletes should be able to compete in sports?
I say that they do not understand. You do not have to like us, and you do not have to agree with us, but we ARE HERE. We will be heard. We are ALL human beings, and as human beings living in America, we should ALL have the respect for one another.
Do you have any plans for yourself post college?
I want to work with kids and continue to build a positive platform for trans youth.
What advice would you give to young trans athletes about navigating the world of sports?
Be brave and be true to yourself. Do not let anybody step on your toes. Keep on fighting because this world can be unkind. You are powerful and your voice will be heard. Together, we will overcome these barriers so we can live in our truth. Nobody is going to stop us from playing.