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High school runner brings spotlight to Alaska transgender policy

By Jake Edmonds 1:05 PM May 28, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

Haines runner Nattaphon Wangyot qualified for the girls 1-2-3A 100-meter and 200-meter finals Friday afternoon at the high school state track and field meet, but unlike her competitors, she was born with male anatomy.

Transgender equality has become a hot topic of discussion around the country, and Alaska is no exception. The Alaska Schools Activities Association recently implemented a policy to allow individual school districts to decide if a transgender athlete can compete in a sport as the gender they identify with.

“We didn’t want to necessarily create a situation where we were going to bring in a committee and those types of things just because it’s just not practical here,” said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland during Friday’s meet.

Wangyot, who declined to comment on this story, qualified for state by running the 100-meter race in 13.14 seconds at the Region V 1-2-3A meet in Juneau on May 21:

  • Tanner Ealum, Anchorage Christian HS – 12.63 seconds
  • Joie Vidad, Sitka HS – 13.02 seconds
  • Nattaphon Wangyot, Haines HS – 13.14 seconds
  • Kaylee Veldstra, Homer HS – 13.23 seconds
  • Simone Sterling, Birchwood Christian HS – 13.62 seconds

In all, 16 runners qualified for state. Saskia Harrison, a runner for Fairbanks’ Hutchison High School, just missed the cut with a time of 14.11 seconds, just behind fellow Hutchison runner Emma Daniels.

“‘I’m glad that this person is comfortable with who they are and they’re able to be happy in who they are, but I don’t think it’s competitively completely 100-percent fair,” Harrison told KTVA.

Alaska is not alone in dealing with transgender athletes. Thirty states have a policy in place that, to at least to some capacity, allows transgender athletes to compete as the gender they identify with.

KTVA 11’s Jake Edmonds can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter. Follow KTVA 11 Sports on Twitter!

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