Fitness magazine Men’s Health recently began this year’s ‘Ultimate Guy‘ contest. They’re looking for an active, well-rounded, health-conscious, and thoughtful man to appear on the cover of their November 2015 issue. Aydian Dowling (the sexy guy pictured above) is currently in the lead with slightly more than 20,000 votes, which is more than two and half times the number of votes for the guy in second place. Dowling stands out from his competitors though. He is an out and proud trans man:
Dowling has skyrocketed to the top of the leaderboard with the help of the trans community and allies turning to social media to bring awareness to Dowling’s efforts. A Tumblr post calling for votes has racked up over 100,000 notes, and tweets supporting Dowling keep pouring in.
“It’s been crazy and amazing. I definitely was not expecting all the support, but I’m so happy and proud of the community for using its loud voice and realizing that we really could do it,” Dowling toldThe Daily Beast. “We’re banding together and this is us. We exist and we should be represented in some way in mainstream.”
The magazine’s “Ultimate Guy Search” is looking for the guy who best fits the ideals of Men’s Health: being physically fit, living a healthy lifestyle, giving back, and professional success.
Guys hoping to be the face of the magazine for a month answer four questions pertaining to the Men’s Health mantra and upload a couple of pics. There are judges, but there’s also a “reader’s choice” component to the competition.
Last year the Men’s Health crowned Noah Galloway, a soldier who lost his left arm and leg after an IED went off. This year, Dowling may be the first trans man on the cover of Men’s Health (or a mainstream magazine in general), redefining and expanding what it means to be a man.
“It would be so affirming to just know that the man that I set out to be is somebody that people think is a good man,” Dowling says about possibly being on the cover of Men’s Health. “To break those stereotypes, but still be a man. Feel pride in masculinity, but not putting down femininity. That would be so important to me.”
As you can see from that Tumblr page, many people are rooting for Dowling to win (the post has more than 149K notes). I’m one of those people (just voted in fact). Why? For one thing, I think he deserves it. Just as important though, such a win can help chip away at the stereotypes and myths about trans people held by far too many folks. So if you support transgender equality-and you damn well should-head on over to Men’s Health and vote for Aydian Dowling.