Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, who was born male but identifies as female, recently became the first transgender athlete to compete individually for a high school state championship, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.
Wangyot, an 18-year-old senior at Haines High School, qualified and competed in the Class 3A girls’ sprints at the Alaska state meet, taking home third place in the 200-meter dash (27.3 seconds) and fifth in the 100 (13.36 seconds). Wangyot also played for the girls volleyball and basketball teams this past year, USA Today High School Sports said.
Wangyot's participation didn't come without controversy, as Alaska Family Action president Jim Minnery and supporters protested outside the event last Friday:
“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,” Minnery said, according to the Dispatch News. “… 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.”
Fairbanks Hutchinson junior Saskia Harrison turned in a time of 14.11 seconds in the 100-meter dash, which wasn't fast enough to make the cut — and she wasn't particularly thrilled that Wangyot advanced.
“I’m glad that this person is comfortable with who they are and they’re able to be happy with who they are,” she told KTVA-TV. “But competitively I don’t think it’s completely 100 percent fair.”
Eagle River junior Peyton Young felt similarly, despite not competing in sprints.
"I don't know what's politically correct to say, but in my opinion your gender is what you're born with," Young, who won the Class 4A girls' 3,200-meter race, told the Dispatch News. "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."
More from USA Today High School Sports:
The Alaska School Activities Association ruled in May 2015 that the decision on a transgender student-athlete’s eligibility rests with each individual school district. So, when Wangyot approached her school’s administration prior to the fall volleyball season, Haines principal Rene Martin worked with the staff to develop a formal policy that would allow her to participate [...]
“Everybody doesn’t understand, and that’s OK,” Martin told the Chilkat Valley News. “But you still have to show respect, and we work together and we talk about things and we try to make it respectful for everybody.”
Wangyot uses a single-occupancy bathroom and showers alone while a coach stands guard, the Valley News added. Wangyot also takes female hormones and other drugs to suppress testosterone levels, the paper added.
“The people who are going to think, ‘It’s not fair to play with the boys’ — well, you don’t know that. It’s not easy,” Wangyot added to the Valley News. “It’s not like I wake up and ‘OK, I’m a girl right now.'”
(H/T: Young Conservatives)