Tribeca 2019: Changing the Game

Mack Beggs preparing to wrestle at Texas girls State Regionals in Changing the Game. Photo by Turner Jumonville.

Changing the Game profiles three different transgender athletes who face various obstacles when it comes to being able to play sports.

Among the trio of athletes, Mack Beggs may be the most familiar name.  This is because the transgender wrestler shot to fame in 2017 when he was forced to compete with the girls.  It just so happens that the laws in Texas were unfair to the wrestler.  The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports, has gone by the gender on birth certificates since 2016.  As a result, Beggs would be forced to compete against the girls the following season, too.  The wrestler would end up as the back-to-back state champion in high school girls’ wrestling.  All because of the rules in Texas.

WFAA sports director Dale Hansen’s monologue went viral shortly after the news broke.  It’s very appropriate for some of the soundbites to be included.

Another athlete profiled is New Hampshire skier and transgender activist Sarah Rose Huckman.  Last year, Huckman spoke out in favor of an anti-gender identity discrimination bill.  In addition to skiing, Huckman also competes in track.  To compete in high school–under the N.H. Interscholastic Athletic Association–would mean having to undergo gender confirmation surgery.  The problem with this is that no surgery is allowed until the age of 18 years old.  Rules differ by state and unfortunately, the rules in New Hampshire meant getting LGBTQ organizations involved.  It should not be so hard to play sports, should it?!?  In any event, it would come down to each school district making the decision.  The catch under the policy is that other schools can challenge her eligibility should they choose to do so.

Finally, we have Connecticut track star Andraya Yearwood.  Her story is intertwined with that of another Connecticut athlete, Terry Miller.  Both run on the girls’ track teams at their respective high schools.  Last summer, both of them came in first and second place, respectively, while competing in the 100m dash in the State Open Finals.  On top of this, Miller would also take home first place in the 200m dash.  It should come as no surprise that winning comes with its challenges.  While their families, friends, coaches, and school administrators are supportive, there are people who wish to change the rules.

These are athletes who just want to live their lives.  Why should we–as transgender humans–not be allowed to participate in sports?   There’s no reason on earth for us to be treated in such an unfair way?  If someone wants to play, let them play!  If you don’t think it’s right for transgender athletes to be playing sports, that’s fine.  You’ll just come off as a bigot but you do you!  End rant.

These are just three athletes.  There are a lot more athletes out there with an untold story.  Perhaps they have gone public but chances are you likely haven’t heard of them.  Even if you haven’t read their stories, it doesn’t change the fact that trans athletes do exist.

What director Michael Barnett does is weave these stories in a way that benefits the film to its advantage.  Sure, Mack Beggs bookends the film but that almost goes without saying at this point.  Ultimately, Changing the Game shows us that transgender athletes are every bit as human as other athletes.

DIRECTOR:  Michael Barnett
FEATURING:  Mack Beggs, Sarah Rose Huckman, Andraya Yearwood

Changing the Game holds its world premiere during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in the Viewpoints program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.