The 2015 Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search Contest received national attention as Men’s Health Magazine searches for the cover model of its November 2015 issue.
The competition, which started March 15, required males over the age of 18 to answer specific questions in a 100-word essay before uploading one to three photos taken in the last 30 days.
One contestant sparking controversy is Aydian Dowling, a transgender activist and bodybuilder. With nearly 44,000 votes, Dowling is leading the competition as he aims to become the first transgender Men’s Health cover model.
Dowling revealed to Today.com that while he was born a female, he has been on hormonal replacement therapy and recognized himself as a man since early 2009.
“My core is the same person, but my confidence has grown tremendously,” Dowling said as he explained how fitness gave him a peace of mind. “So once I identified as trans, I started working out. I wanted my outer body to match how I felt inside.”
The “reader’s favorite” runs a trans-inspired clothing company as well as “BeefHeads Fitness,” a YouTube channel catering to the transgender community of fitness enthusiasts.
The upcoming Supreme Court ruling of gay marriage and Dowling’s ambition have also caused discussion at Southern Miss as some students realize both decisions could open the eyes of many closed-minded people.
“I personally think that it would be wonderful if Aydian Dowling could be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine,” said Taylor Vines, a senior history education major and executive chair of the USM Gay Straight Alliance.
Vines went on to express his belief in equal treatment and the need for our country to start a conversation on gender.
“Far too often, people see the conversation about (LGBTQ+) rights as being about the right of gay men and lesbians to marry, and I see Dowling’s desire as a way of showing that there is more to the struggle than just marriage,” Vines said.
Men’s Health magazines promotes healthy lifestyles among men, especially athletes who can relate to this controversy regardless of gender, gender identity or gender expression.
“I see why people could have a problem with the cover, but being an athlete I also see why he deserves it considering the hard work he’s put in,” said Norville Carey, a junior sociology major and forward of the Southern Miss men’s basketball team.
With an upper hand in the competition, Dowling can almost look forward to entering the next phase of the competition, which will include celebrity judges selecting nine semi-finalists to conduct telephone interviews and screenings.
The winner of the contest is based on physical fitness, healthy lifestyle, community service and reader’s choice. They will not only appear on the cover, but also receive a year’s supply of Isopure protein products.
For more information on Dowling or to cast a vote, visit the Men’s Health site.