This past week has been a banner one for the trans community. First, Laverne Cox stripped down for “Allure” to help empower her various communities (black, woman, transgender). And now, fitness magazine “Men’s Health” might soon have its first transgender cover model.
Twenty-seven-year-old Aydian Dowling from Eugene, Oregon currently leads the magazine’s “Ultimate Guy” search, which searches for the man who “possesses all of the qualities that make up today’s well rounded, active, health conscious and thoughtful guy; is fit and fearless and leads by example.”
Dowling certainly meets those requirements. He began transitioning using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in Oct. 2009, and had top surgery (which removed his breasts) three years later. In terms of leading by example, Dowling is also a fitness entrepreneur: He created YouTube channel Beefheads Fitness, which focuses on fitness for trans people. He saw an opportunity within the marketplace when he realized that nobody was filling that void, and decided to step in. Dowling also gives back by donating some profits from his clothing company to help transmen pay for top surgery.
As of Sunday night, Dowling sits atop the “Reader’s Choice” leaderboard:
The rankings are based on user votes, so anyone who comes to the website can decide whether to vote or not. (As you can see, there’s some self-selection bias at play here. But in this case, it might not be such a bad thing.)
Dowling has pretty much blown every other ranked contestant out of the water at this point. Brian Taylor, currently in second place, hasn’t even received 25% of the votes that Dowling has.
The winner of the “Ultimate Guy” contest will be featured on the “Men’s Health” November 2015 issue cover. The magazine’s editors note that “the winner of the reader vote isn’t guaranteed to win the contest, but will be in the top 10 finalists.” It’s very exciting that we’re potentially watching history in the making, and that this represents a large shift in terms of (re-)defining ideas of mainstream masculinity. And we really hope that the “Men’s Health” editors award Dowling the title, if he wins the reader poll.