HAINES, Alaska — A family group in Alaska is crying foul after it became aware that a male student at Haines High School who identifies as female is being permitted to compete against girls on the school’s track team and at the state championship.
Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, 18, a senior at the high school, recently qualified for the 100-meter and 200-meter finals, but some female students question whether it is fair for him to compete on a girls’ team.
“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,” Saskia Harrison of Fairbanks Hutchison High School told KTVA-TV.
“Genetically, a guy has more muscle mass than a girl, and if he’s racing against a girl, he may have an advantage,” said Peyton Young of Eagle River High School.
But Wangyot says that he takes female hormones regularly to suppress his testosterone levels, and finds support in his coaches.
“Some hateful people make me stronger and stronger,” he told reporters. “So I want to say ‘thank you’ for everybody.”
The Haines Borough School District also has a policy permitting students to play on sports teams based on their gender identity.
“Yeah, we’re not gonna discriminate based on gender identity. That’s the just the long and the short of it,” Haines School District Interim Superintendent Rich Carlson remarked.
“For the purposes of gender identification for interscholastic activities, the district will consider the gender identity based on the student’s consistent declaration of gender identity, their actions, attitude, dress and mannerisms,” the policy reads.
The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) abides by whatever guidelines individual districts have set on the matter.
“The bigger gist of how this policy was developed is ASAA feels that schools are in the best position of dealing with individual students and know which individual students consistently identify with a different gender and can apply that better than we can thousands of miles away from the actual student,” ASAA Director Billy Strickland told Alaska Public Media.
But recently, the group Alaska Family Action held a press conference over the matter to as they find the allowance is unfair to female athletes. Approximately a dozen local residents stood to voice their concern.
“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,” said Executive Director Jim Minnery. “Allowing students to play on teams of the opposite sex disproportionately impacts female students, who will lose spots on a track, soccer and volleyball teams to male students who identify as female.”
“It is not fair and it is not right for our female athletes, and we have a responsibility to protect our girls,” Stephanie Leigh Golmon Williams also told KTVA.
Wangyot was likewise permitted to compete on the girls’ volleyball and basketball teams this year.