A high school in Alaska is turning heads with the students in their athletic department.
Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, an 18 year old senior at Haines High School, recently qualified and competed in the Class 3A girl sprints at an Alaska State track meet. Yet, that is not what is causing spectators to take notice. Wangyot, was born a male, but identifies as a female and is now the first transgender athlete to compete individually for a high school state championship.
Wangyot, however, did not run home with the gold, but did acquire the bronze medal for the 200 meter dash finishing in a mere 27.3 seconds. Wangyot also come in fifth in the 100 meter dash finishing in 13.36 seconds. Those are not the only sports that the athlete has participated in, the high schooler also played for the schools girl volleyball and basketball teams last year.
Of course, Wangyot’s participation wasn’t met with all cheers and congratulatory remarks. Jim Minnery, the President for Alaska Family Action, and other members of the organization were outside the State track meet event protesting.
According to the Dispatch news, Minnery said, “We are here today as a voice from the community to ensure that female athletes are not denied the playing opportunities and scholarships otherwise available to them and to make the playing field even again … Allowing students to play on teams of the opposite sex disproportionately impacts female students who will lose spots on track, soccer and volleyball teams to male students who identify as female.”
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So now the question of gender capability and fairness is floating around the air. Saskia Harrison, a junior at Fairbanks Hutchinson High School came in at 14.11 seconds in the 100 meter dash, just a hair behind Wangyot.
Although she told KTVA-TV, “I’m glad that this person is comfortable with who they are and they’re able to be happy with who they are,” she felt it was unfair that a male was able to compete in the females track meet. She went on to say, “But competitively I don’t think it’s completely 100 percent fair.”
In 2015 the Alaska School Activities Association ruled that a transgender students eligibility to compete as an athlete is the responsibility of each individual school district. Rene Martin the principle of Haines High School worked with the staff to develop a policy that would allow Wangyot to compete, after she was approached by Wangyot before the fall volleyball season.
The Valley News said that Wangyot is guarded by a coach while showering alone in a single-occupancy bathroom. It was also said that Wangyot takes female hormones and other drugs to suppress testosterone.
Other students were concerned with the fairness of allowing Wangyot to participate in the girls track meet. Peyton Young, a junior from Eagle River High School told the Dispatch News, “I don’t know what’s politically correct to say, but in my opinion your gender is what you’re born with, it’s the DNA. Genetically a guy has more muscle mass than a girl, and if he’s racing against a girl, he may have an advantage.”
Whatever the outcome may be for Wangyot, it is clear that the acceptance by Haines High School is stirring up trouble in Alaska.