The Most Powerful Film You’ll See About the Iditarod Isn’t Really About the Iditarod — Watch ‘Apayauq’

Apayauq Reitan has completed the Iditarod sled dog race twice. The first time, in 2019, she finished in 28th place. The second, in 2022, she finished last after two of her dogs were forced to leave the team with injury, greatly slowing her progress. 

Difficult journeys, to be sure, but nowhere near as difficult as navigating her path through life as a trans woman. The below short film, “Apayauq” is a beautifully filmed glimpse at that path, told by Reitan as she guides her dog team along during the 2022 race. At that race, she became the first trans woman to complete the Iditarod. 

It’s serene, starkly beautiful, and poignant. Reitan moves from checkpoint to checkpoint in the race, taking things one at a time, same as she does in life. She doesn’t delve too deeply into any trauma caused by her transition, aside from one instance of sharing some very ugly messages she’s received. You get the sense this is a person who could handle just about anything. 

When Reitan isn’t mushing, she’s a polar bear guide in Alaska, helping folks photograph some of the world’s most magnificent animals. It’s a lovely life, one made more whole by finally allowing herself to be who she truly is. 



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