‘Changing the Game’ Review: Fighting for the Right to Play

In 2017, Mack Beggs, then 17, gained a state ladies’ wrestling championship. Mack, a transgender boy from Dallas, had wished to wrestle in the boys’ division. But in Texas, state coverage mandates that college students compete in accordance to their intercourse assigned at start somewhat than gender identification. So his choices had been to wrestle ladies or to not wrestle in any respect.

Mack is one in all three younger athletes profiled in the documentary “Changing the Game,” which gives an earnest take a look at the method transgender teenagers round the nation are preventing for self-actualization in the fraught world of pupil athletics.

The documentary (streaming on Hulu) illustrates how guidelines differ from state to state: The skier Sarah Rose Huckman, who lives in New Hampshire, describes a coverage that hinges on gender affirmation surgical procedure; whereas at a highschool in Connecticut, the runner Andraya Yearwood is ready to compete on the staff she desires.

Outcry over transgender youngsters in sports activities manifests as a conservative speaking level and in waves of discriminatory payments from Republican lawmakers. But somewhat than deconstruct the politics, historical past or parameters of this furor, “Changing the Game” hews intently to Mack, Sarah and Andraya. We see the methods during which bullying and outsized media consideration gnaw at these teenagers, who face the public eye with astounding braveness.

As it follows its topics, the documentary takes a traditional and managed method. The director Michael Barnett intercuts interviews with competitors footage, coaching montages and slow-motion motion photographs. Throughout, a synth-heavy rating insists on a motivational temper.

A frequent right-wing argument is that transgender athletes make sports activities unfair. The documentary’s greatest and most difficult through-line exhibits the place this declare falls quick — notably how, for younger athletes, constructing confidence is extra vital than wins and losses. “Changing the Game” may have gone additional, analyzing how equity in sports activities is a fantasy to start with. But the film isn’t interested by rewriting the guidelines; it could somewhat introduce us to the courageous younger people who find themselves.

Changing the Game
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Watch on Hulu.