The German edition of Men’s Health will feature transgender fitness model Ben Melzer on the cover of its April issue.
Melzer will be the first transgender man to appear on the cover of a men’s fitness magazine in Europe, according to U.K. LGBT site Pink News. Melzer landed on the cover after entering the German magazine’s cover model contest.
“My inside and outside finally fit and that’s why I’m not at all shamed to talk about it,” Melzer said in a video posted by Now This. He hopes to use the publicity surrounding his bid for the cover as a way to give hope to other people who are struggling with their gender identity.
“When I was in that situation, I had nobody to talk to, nobody to ask all these questions,” he added. “That’s what I want to do. I want to give the community a face, stand up and answer those questions for people.”
In an interview with German magazine Bild, Melzer recounted that he has been drawn to traditionally masculine things since childhood. His favorite color was blue, and he would cry when he was made to dress in pink. A translation of the interview features Melzer discussing how “girl things were never his,” noting instead that it was clear to him from a young age that “I’m a boy.”
But things weren’t always easy for Melzer. As puberty set in and he began to develop, he noticed that “something [was going] wrong.”
At age 23, Melzer underwent his first gender-confirming surgery.
“It was hell,” he told the magazine.
Despite the rough patches, Melzer now has another focus: “If there is one person out there I can help, I will succeed.”
This is the second groundbreaking cover produced by Men’s Health. The first appeared in the United States this summer, a special collector’s edition featuring Aydian Dowling, a transgender bodybuilder. He was a front-runner in the 2015 Men’s Health Ultimate Guy Cover Contest, winning the Reader’s Choice pick with more than 72,000 votes.