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A Texas rule forces students to choose between sports and being themselves.

Mack Beggs is just a 17-year-old boy who loves wrestling.

Sometimes, rules have unintended consequences. 17-year-old Texas wrestler Mack Beggs is dealing with one of them.

In February 2016, Texas school superintendents voted on a University Interscholastic League rule to require that student athletes compete as the gender listed on their birth certificates. The vote, which passed with 95% support, was intended to restrict transgender athletes from participating as their identified gender.

Just over a year later, Beggs, a transgender boy from Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, won the state championship in wrestling — in the girls' division.


Beggs competes at the Texas Wrestling State Tournament. Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via AP Images.

Those new rules prohibited Beggs from competing against other boys — as he wanted to — putting him in the awkward position of having to quit wrestling or compete in the girls division.

"Wrestling is my life," wrote Beggs on his Facebook page. Some parents argued that taking testosterone gives Beggs an advantage over the girls he's wrestling against — and they'd probably be right, which is why the NCAA and International Olympic Committee both have policies outlining under what circumstances transgender athletes can compete against athletes of the same gender and when they should have to compete against athletes of the gender they were assigned at birth. The Texas UIL policy, however, eliminates a lot of important nuance.

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via AP Images.

The Texas school superintendents knew that this might happen when they voted in 2016.

Chris Mosier, a three-time member of the U.S. National Team in duathlon and triathlon, tried to warn the Texas superintendents ahead of the 2016 vote, calling the policy a "a barrier to inclusion." As it turns out, he was right.

Mosier is the vice president of program development at You Can Play and founder of TransAthlete.com. He's also transgender.

"No athlete should have to choose between being an athlete and being their authentic self," says Mosier. "Transgender youth should have the same opportunities to compete in athletics as their cisgender peers. Mack is an athlete who just wants to compete in the sport he loves, and this is the only option Texas UIL gave him to continue to compete."

"For all young people," Mosier says, "participation in sports is recognized as an important aspect of developing positive self-esteem and an understanding of leadership, teamwork, communication skills, goal setting, determination, and a host of other positive values. It creates a connection to community and a sense of belonging. All students, including transgender students, should have the opportunity to participate in sport."

Mosier attends the Body at the ESPYs party in 2016. Photo by Dave Mangels/Getty Images.

There are some really simple things anyone can do to create a welcoming and inclusive space for transgender student athletes.

Whether you're a fellow student, parent, coach, teacher, or community member, one of the most basic things you can do to make trans students feel welcome is by affirming their identity. Using their correct name and pronouns is a great start.

The second thing that needs to happen is for administrators to shift from implementing exclusionary rules that create barriers for trans athletes and look to adopt policies that integrate trans students into school athletics. Mosier's website links to some helpful policy documents and guides that help debunk some of harmful myths about trans athletes.

One other thing you can do to show your support for equality is to get involved with organizations that promote inclusion for LGBTQ athletes such as You Can Play and TransAthlete.

Mosier at the 2016 GLAAD Amplified panel in 2016. Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York.

Policies vary wildly by state, which is why we need national guidance on policy for trans athletes — one that doesn't exclude anyone.

"There are transgender students in the state of Texas right now who are competing with the gender with which they identify because they changed their birth certificate," says Mosier. "But transgender students shouldn't have to jump through legal hoops in order to have an experience similar to their peers."

Gavin Grimm's upcoming Supreme Court case about how trans students fit into Title IX protections might provide that that clarity, but until then, it's on us to advocate on behalf of trans student athletes who just want to play sports like other kids.

As far as Beggs' wrestling future is concerned, there's a lot to be determined between now and the start of next season.

Jamey Harrison, the deputy director of the state UIL, the organization behind the birth certificate policy, told The Associated Press that "given the overwhelming support for that rule, I don't expect it to change anytime soon."

If it's overwhelming support that's keeping the discriminatory rule in place, don't forget what you can do to show that you don't stand by those views: (1) Use correct names and pronouns, (2) let your school know you want trans-inclusive athletic policies, and (3) get involved with organizations like You Can Play.

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via AP Images.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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Canva

Small actions lead to big movements.

Acts of kindness—we know they’re important not only for others, but for ourselves. They can contribute to a more positive community and help us feel more connected, happier even. But in our incessantly busy and hectic lives, performing good deeds can feel like an unattainable goal. Or perhaps we equate generosity with monetary contribution, which can feel like an impossible task depending on a person’s financial situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, the main reason people don’t offer more acts of kindness is the fear of being misunderstood. That is, at least, according to The Kindness Test—an online questionnaire about being nice to others that more than 60,000 people from 144 countries completed. It does make sense—having your good intentions be viewed as an awkward source of discomfort is not exactly fun for either party.

However, the results of The Kindness Test also indicated those fears were perhaps unfounded. The most common words people used were "happy," "grateful," "loved," "relieved" and "pleased" to describe their feelings after receiving kindness. Less than 1% of people said they felt embarrassed, according to the BBC.


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via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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