In pictures: the Hong Kong Bodybuilding Championships | Post Magazine | South China Morning Post
When we are on stage we are judged not only on our muscle - we have to do our hair, put on make-up and wear a particular style of bikini. I used to suppress my femininity but through bodybuilding I learnt to love my female identity as well as my masculinity. I think we all have both sides but society expects us to suppress one most of the time. Bodybuilding allows me to explore and transcend these boundaries.
Before my first competition it was a huge challenge for me to wear a bikini and perform on stage with confidence, as I wanted to be seen as a man. I learnt to remove the binary labels we give clothes and treat the bikini as a costume.
I struggled with my gender and sexuality for a long time. I attempted suicide several times because I felt I was the only one in the world like me. There was hardly any representation of transgender people in the media and the limited amount was mostly negative.
So many people are still afraid of coming out. Many families are conservative and will not accept their son or daughter as transgender. Before a transgender person comes out they have often struggled for a long time.
They have to make sure they are financially independent first in case they are kicked out of the home when they tell their family. I never came out as such to my family.
I gradually told them a little bit more about myself. My parents are quite conservative but are supportive. It is a gradual acceptance. My father told me I have chosen a difficult path, and he worries whether I will have enough friends.
These are the worries every parent has about their child. Several years ago, he asked me which washroom I use as he realized the problems this can cause me. Now we go to the same washroom. He also started to share his clothes with me and accepts it is normal that I dress socially male. My family are trying to accept me for who I am.
When I started bodybuilding my mum really hated it. She would say muscles are for men not women. This changed last year when I had my first competition in Hong Kong and she wanted to watch. I came fourth and she came backstage afterwards and told me I should have won as I had the most muscles. LGBT people face different challenges but are often all grouped together.
For the transgender community, the biggest obstacle is acceptance from mainstream society. In the workplace, if you have a job and want to change gender, many companies are not ready or willing to accept this. Often a transgender person has to quit their job to have their operation and then find a new job. It is getting better but stigmatization and misconceptions in the workplace still exist. If a male to female transgender person uses the female bathroom it can often lead to lots of complaints from co-workers.
People ask if the LGBT community want special privileges, but all we are asking for is equality. Love is love regardless of your gender or sexuality.
We need to celebrate diversity and difference. I am optimistic as young people are more open to diversity and accepting of difference. New media helps young people have a better awareness of transgender people. In ten years, these will be the people in government so in the long term the outlook is positive. I hope it will encourage both LGBT people and the wider community to play sport, but also for sport to be a platform to promote human rights and equality.
This will send a positive message to the transgender community in Asia. We hope the Hong Kong government will get behind the games, including the use of public sports venues.
There needs to be more visibility and representation of transgender people in mainstream society, particularly to support those that may be struggling. I hope if anyone is struggling with their gender and sexuality they will see that they are not alone, and they will never be alone. Campaigns Asia and The Pacific Discrimination. The Hong Kong athlete fighting for transgender equality 24 November , Here he tells of his experience as a transgender athlete, the struggle for transgender equality in Hong Kong and his hopes for the Gay Games: Bodybuilding is a paradoxical sport when it comes to gender.
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