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Transgender high school athlete sparks push for protections in Alaska

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When Nattaphon Wangyot competed in the Alaska track and field state meet, she drew criticism from the Alaska Family Council. Now the state is looking to protect her and other transgender students.

Nattaphon Wangyot competed at the All-State meet last spring.
KTVA

When she competed in the Alaska state high school track and field championships last spring, Nattaphon Wangyot became the center of a debate in the state over the “fairness” of transgender girls competing against cisgender girls. Wangyot also plays basketball.

To be clear, Wangyot didn’t win the state championship, finishing fifth in the 100-meter and third in the 200-meter. It’s kind of tough to see how someone who doesn’t win has an unfair advantage over everyone else, but that doesn’t stop the anti-trans forces from rolling out the press conferences.

“It is not fair and it is not right for our female athletes,” Stephanie Leigh Golmon Williams of the Alaska Family Council said at the time.

Now the state’s teaching commission is taking steps to protect Wangyot and other trans students from discrimination. That protection will reach down to student-athletes in a state without a specific trans-athlete policy, where each school district is allowed to determine its own course.

“It really may be a coach or a teacher that says no to a transgender student needs to make sure that that’s being based on the merits of their athletic ability whether they make a team or not,” Billy Strickland, director of the Alaska School Activities Association, told KTVA. “As opposed to, I don’t like the idea of there being a transgender student and therefore I’m going to cut them [from a team].”

We hope no trans high school athlete has to deal with the backlash Wangyot felt, and hopefully this new policy will move that along.