Benjamin Melzer will be the first transgender man to grace the cover of the popular men's magazine "Men's Health" in Europe, reports nbcnews.com.
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After coming in among the top five competitors in the German edition's "Cover contest", the boundary-pushing 29-year-old will be on the front page of a collectors edition coming out in April.
"The Trans community needs people like Ben," says Men's Health editor-in-chief Markus Stenglein. The German model calls himself jokingly "the Martin Luther King of Transgender".
And the young pioneer has got popular support:
He is following in the footsteps of Aydian Dowling, who is also transgender and became world-famous after being a runner-up in the US Ultimate Men's Health Guy contest, according to fusion.net.
"Stealing the girlfriend of every guy who laughs at me"
In the small town of Oer-Erkenschwick in North rhine-Westphalia's densely populated Ruhr-area, Benjamin was born into a fair-haired, female body under the name of Yvonne. But he says that he "was never just a normal girl".
He used to do sports with boys and take girls out on dates, never knowing why he was "different", as he says. As a young adolescent, he started getting advice on sex reassignment surgery, vowing to "later steal the girlfriend of every guy who laughs at me."
But the road to fulfilment was rocky. His parents had a hard time accepting his transition – his father "didn't want to lose his little girl," recounts the model.
Nevertheless, he overcame the hurdle of 11 surgeries, numerous hormone injections and a strict fitness program to become a man of broad shoulders, ripped abs and a full beard.
Benjamin Melzer wokring out; Photo: DPA
Gender troubles in Germany
Despite increasing tolerance over the past years, being trans in Germany these days is a tough hand to be dealt.
"Transgender is not necessarily a taboo anymore, but discrimination against trans people is a problem," Nicole Faerber, board member of the German Association for Trans Identity and Intersexuality (DGTI), told The Local.
"Even today, trans people who stand behind their gender identity often lose their job, their families and circles of friends fall apart and their partners seperate from them."
According to estimates, between one in every 1,000 and 100,000 newborn children is transgender.
But Faerber presumes that there are a lot more people that feel at odds with their gender identity.
As an activist, Melzer wants to thwart prejudice. His website called "Egoshooter – self-made man" gives advice on nutrition, working out, and being transgender.
"I want to give hope and comfort to those who ask themselves every day why they were not born in a different body," he told aplus.com.