After spending years idenfying as female, two-time Female to Male Fi Con bodybuilding champion Shaun Stinson told CNN that for the first time, he feels he wouldn't change a thing about his gender journey.
"If someone had asked me a year ago if you would change anything I would say yes, that I was born in the right body, ask me that same question today and I would say, not a thing," he said.
To Al Jazeera, he added, “I was raised as a girl, and I have pictures I’m not happy with. Even though I look happy in those pictures, I just remember looking at those pictures and knowing how I wasn’t happy as a child.”
Stinson joined the military, and while deployed in Iraq, he started working out with the goal of being able to walk topless on the beach. "I was transitioning without really knowing I was transitioning," he told CNN. He used bodybuilding and then hormone therapy and surgery to literally build the body he dreamed of having, and in Atlanta in October, he was rewarded with his second victory.
Contest founder Neo Sandja told CNN, "It means a lot to me to have someone like Shaun come and say I am trans and here's my body." Sandja, also a trans man, became involved in fitness following rapid weight gain after starting hormone therapy for his transition. He started a blog called FTM Fitness, and in less than two months, he had more than 800 followers on Facebook, according to CNN.
Sandja, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, started receiving emails from people all over the world and sensed an opportunity. He created an online store and then hosted his first annual conference in Atlanta in 2014, according to his website.
The conference's main event was the world's first transgender bodybuilding competition, and in 2016, Sandja hopes to expand to include transgender women, CNN reported.
Stinson told Al Jazeera he was happy to be selected winner of the bodybuilding contest once again but has already set his sights on other goals. He wants to compete in a mainstream bodybuilding competition and raise the profile of transgender athletes, “I am up for the challenge,” he said.
Watch transgender bodybuilding champion Shaun Stinson talks about his physical journey, below.