(Photo Courtesy of Esquire) “Movie poster for Changing the Game shows the three stars in their athletic fields”
On Tuesday, November 14, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center & UMass Lowell Political Science Department joined forces for a showing of the movie “Changing the Game”. The 2019 Hulu documentary directed by Michael Barnett is about the lives of three transgender high school athletes.
The three stars of the documentary are Mack Beggs, Sarah Rose Huckman and Andraya Yearwood.
In 2017, Mack Beggs won a state girls’ wrestling championship. Mack is a transgender boy from Dallas who wanted to wrestle in the boys’ division. At the time, state policy mandated that students were required to complete on the athletic team of their sex assigned at birth. Texas made Beggs decide to play for the girl’s team, which goes against his gender identity, or not play at all.
Beggs’ State Championship wins are considered controversial because he had low doses of testosterone in his body. Beggs took hormone blockers to prevent advantages from testosterone in his body but some still had complaints.
Sarah Rose Huckman is a multi-sport athlete from Ossipee, New Hampshire. Huckman testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 1319, an anti-gender identity discrimination bill recently signed into law.
Huckman competes in cross-country running, track and Nordic ski racing. When Huckman was in high school, she tried to compete on the girl’s team. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) voted that in order for transgender athletes to play in high school sports, they had to undergo surgery.
Huckman faced a problem with the NHIAA’s ruling, she was too young for surgery at 15. Huckman and her family did not give up though. They worked with NHIAA and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), to be more understanding and allow school districts to decide if someone can compete on a team that is the same as their gender identity.
Andraya Yearwood is a track and field athlete from Connecticut. Yearwood gained attention from all over the globe because of her second-place finish at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) 100-yard dash finals in 2017 behind another transgender student.
Yearwood became the subject of attention when the State of Connecticut ruled to allow Yearwood to compete on the women’s team. This decision stirred up a debate surrounding Title IX and transgender people.
Yearwood and others like her have been called “focal points in a fight over the future of sports” by ESPN. Her situation had become a large debate because Yearwood did not compete on estrogen or hormone blockers. Yearwood spoke to Good Morning America and discussed her journey. She encouraged other transgender girls to pursue the path they choose no matter who tries to bring them down.
Yearwood would receive recruitment interest from Harvard University, the University of Connecticut, Springfield College, and West Point to run track and field in the NCAA.
Although they have all had different journeys, Beggs, Huckman and Yearwood have faced similar backlash from the public for being their true selves. They are just a few of many transgender athletes who have faced problems with being able to play on teams that align with their gender identity.
The film tries to shed some light on the realities transgender teenagers face when being affected by bills that are introduced to interfere with their lives. The film discusses their daily lives and even brings their lives all the way to the Supreme Court.
An excellent thing “Changing the Game” does is it makes the film about the three teens. With so many discussions and outcries about transgender people in sports, it has become easy for them being transgender to take center stage of who they are as people.
The film gears toward showing the realities transgender teens face every day when they are bullied and outcasted by the media. It shows what thousands of transgender people go through in their everyday lives, and backs it up.
Lastly, part of Barnett’s directing magic is he was not trying to change the world and rewrite the rules. Barnett was trying to show the world how brave these individuals and many like them are. He also tries to show off who they are as athletes, Barnett’s goal with “Changing the Game” was to show who they are and how they should be seen, as teenage athletes.