Saturday, October 29, 2011

No wonder she's strong! Father-of-two makes bodybuilding comeback... as a transgender woman

By Daisy Dumas

Transformation: Bodybuilder Chris Bruce competed as a male up until 1993, but will tomorrow enter her first competition as a transgender woman after undergoing hormonal therapy and surgery

A former male bodybuilder is making a comeback to the sport - as a transgender woman.

42-year-old Chris Tina Foxx Bruce will this weekend compete in the Border States Classic Bodybuilding competition.

The personal trainer from San Diego has come a long way since last entering bodybuilding competitions nearly 20 years ago. She began hormonal therapy in 2008, completing her transformation from man to transgender woman with breast implants and facial surgery in 2009.

After many years of cross-dressing away from his wife and family, Bruce divorced in 2007. His ex-wife - the two were high-school sweethearts - did not discover that her former husband was transgender until just this year.

The father-of-two told Huffington Post: 'I had to come to terms with the transgendered issue... I tried to get away from the things I did as a guy, but I decided I had to be me.'

Now, Bruce is re-entering the world of competitive bodybuilding for the first time since 1993, and this time as a female competitor - despite, anatomically-speaking, still being male.

Whittling away her body weight from 230 pounds to 190 pounds in order to qualify, the 6ft 1inch blond explained the difficulties of training as a woman.

Military fitness: The 42-year-old father of two is up against criticism from competitors who believe she has an unfair advantage

'It's not like any guy can walk up there and put a bikini on,' Bruce told David Moye. Her training has been 'much more difficult' than that of a man, she said, because women's hormones make her prone to weight gain.

Her entry in the competition is the culmination of 'many, many years' of training and, in her opinion, she has no advantage over other women, as judges base their decisions on a selection of criteria, including symmetry, leanness and feminine form.

Simply entering the competition was a major step for the business-owner and competition organisers - who do not conduct hormone or gender tests - were supportive.

'I explained who I was and my story and they were fine with letting me compete as a woman,' she told HuffPost.

Gym bunny: Bruce says she is at as much of a disadvantage as other women. She began competing as a male on the bodybuilding in the early Nineties - and has had a 19-year break from the sport

But while her inclusion in the competition is a success in itself for Bruce, some female bodybuilders are not so understanding.

Competitor Laurie Delaney told Fox 5 San Diego that Bruce has an unfair advantage. 'This just isn't a normal man walking the street who has now decided to become a female... This is a bodybuilding male.

'Chris has had the opportunity to descend, if you will, while other females have had to ascend to that same level,' she said.

'So they've had [to] up or boost their testosterone levels to get to the same levels. Where Chris has had the opportunity to build muscle as a man,' Delaney told the news station.

Bruce's former wife is also not so supportive of her ex's new life. 'She hates it,' Bruce told Dallas Voice earlier this year. Bruce has never identified as gay and, according to the Voice, would technically identify as lesbian.

Then and now: Bruce in September 2008, prior to his therapy and surgery, left, and post-treatment in June 2010, right. She jokes that she is a 'third hybrid' - a transgender woman who loves football and racing cars

The couple have two children, 12, and 8, who are 'adjusting well' to the change, according to HuffPost. 'I think they'd rather see Dad being honest and be happier as a result,' said Bruce.

She hopes her new-found public image may help boost transgender understanding, following in the footsteps of Dancing With the Stars contestant, Chaz Bono.

'I am perfectly fine that a typical male-to-female transgender wants to be girly, but don't put me in that bag,' she said, aware that her circumstances are highly unusual.

'This is me. I race cars and I love football. I may be a third hybrid.'

Judges, competitors and ex's opinions aside, whatever the outcome of tomorrow's competition, Bruce has already won her own battle.

'Just walking on stage is a success for me,' she told Moye. 'Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.'




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