They Are the Champions

May 28, 2018 on

Mack Beggs steps from his house in Euless, Texas, gripping the leash attached to Dani, who, at 94 pounds, is the largest of his seven dogs. Mack, only 20 pounds heavier than his bullador, strains to get her into the back of his grandmother Nancy’s car. Dani seems to know they’re headed to the coin-op car wash for a bath.

Nancy watches from her front porch, a cluster of plants behind her covered by plastic hanging from the gutter; this January is unseasonably harsh, and she’s trying to protect them. She calls out to Mack to buy cleaning supplies. He needs to scrub the caked mud from the interior of his Scion, which had been in a tow yard since he drove it off the road last month. Nancy had been the one to pick up the Scion that afternoon, securing the bumper with plastic fasteners — she isn’t going to be the one to clean it.

Nancy hopes time away from his car has refocused Mack. In three weeks, he’ll defend his 6A 110-pound girls’ wrestling state title. Mack, 19, is a transgender boy who wrestles girls because the Texas high school athletic association, the University Interscholastic League (UIL), determines gender strictly by birth certificate, a policy approved in 2016 by 586 of 620 superintendents. Mack’s certificate reads “female.”

The Texas policy contrasts Connecticut’s, which allows transgender kids like Andraya Yearwood to compete with whom they identify. Andraya, 16, is a transgender girl who won the 2017 Class M outdoor state titles in the 100 and 200 meters as a freshman. As Mack preps for his tourney, Andraya also prepares for another title run, in indoor track. The two will compete the same weekend, 1,680 miles apart.

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