I am a 29-year-old NASM certified personal trainer and transgender man. In a few weeks, I’ll be moving from Portland, Oregon to Virginia. I’ve participated in a lot of different sports, but right now I’m an avid, competitive powerlifter.
Do you plan on competing this year?
I plan on waiting at least until 2021 before I compete in powerlifting again. My first competition was in 2014, so it’ll feel good to be back on the platform again.
Who is your role model?
These are the transgender athletes that have really inspired me over the years.
Chloie Jonsson (@chlojonsson)
Schuyler Bailar ((pinkmataray))
Janae Kroczaleski (@janaemariekroc)
Kinnon Ross (@skinnin_kinnon)
Scott Percy (@fluffy757)
Tommy Murrell (@tommythetrainer78)
What's one of your favorite memories from growing up?
When I was 7 or 8 years old, my grandparents took my sister, our cousins, and I to the lake. I didn’t have a swimsuit with me, but my grandfather let me swim wearing only shorts. I didn’t know at the time, but the reason I was so happy was because I was experiencing gender euphoria. It felt so affirming to be able to swim shirtless.
How does your diet impact/support your training?
Because I’m a strength athlete, I typically maintain a high protein diet to optimize muscle recovery. I typically perform best when most of my calories are coming from whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed food sources.
Are there any black fitness entrepreneurs you’d like to promote?
Tommy Murrell (pronouns he/him) is a NASM personal trainer with 8 different specialty certifications under his belt and a Bachelors degree in Physical Education. He is an Amateur Bodybuilder & Loves inspiring people to do their best. Tommy has worked with both cisgender and transgender clients with a variety of different fitness goals.
Ilya (pronouns he/they) is a Physical Therapist Assistant and Ace Certified Medical Exercise Specialist. He is also a grassroots organizer and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice. Ilya decided to merge their love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity.
As a trans athlete, what are your thoughts and opinions about competing in mainstream sports & competitions? Do you feel there is an unfair advantage?
I dream of a world where trans athletes have the freedom to compete in whatever sport and for whatever organization that they choose. Every athlete, regardless of their identity or how they were born, has their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to competing. It feels unfair to penalize or exclude athletes based on gender identity or whatever medications they might take. I think it should be the responsibility of each competitive organization to write policies that promote inclusion within the sport.
What are your thoughts on trans men representation and the lack of it in many areas?
The lack of trans masculine representation in the media is one of the reasons why it took me so long to come out as transgender. But I think it’s so great that we now live in a time where some of us can be ambassadors to our community using social media. Not everyone has the privilege of being out, but those who do have that privilege can use their visibility to help educate others about us.
Why is it important for Trans Actors to play Trans Roles in Hollywood?
In my opinion, one of the problematic aspects of cisgender actors playing transgender roles is that it perpetuates the idea that we are “ just playing dress-up”. When a transgender woman is portrayed by a cisgender man dressed in women’s clothing, that’s the perception some cis folks get of trans people; that trans women are just cisgender men dressed up as women and trans men are just cisgender women dressed up as men. This way of thinking is invalidating to our identities. A lot of cisgender, heterosexual people won’t go out of their way to educate themselves about the LGBTQIA community. If cinema is one way we can reach those people, then trans folks should be the ones telling our own stories.
What are things you learned about yourself after you transitioned?
Transitioning has taught me about the importance of self-care and patience. Sometimes it feels like having a 2nd or 3rd job when you want to transition medically because it can be time-consuming, confusing, and stressful hard work. It can take weeks, months, or even years to figure out how to get the financial or insurance coverage for one’s transitional needs. You have to take care of your basic needs and learn how to be patient when it comes to physical transitioning, so I’ve learned to apply those skills to my everyday life.
Did you feel that you had to rediscover your personality as a man when you transitioned?
Yes, absolutely. Testosterone changes you so much physically and mentally; my perspective on a lot of things has changed and now I find myself processing emotions in different ways than I did before starting HRT.
How are you feeling after phalloplasty?
I’m feeling quite relieved now that the process is over. Even though I only had two surgeries performed, I’m content with my body and feel grateful to be fully healed. My surgeon, Dr. Jens Berli, did an amazing job.
Could you provide some advice for people that want to transition but are afraid to?
You’re not alone; I imagine just about every transgender person experiences some level of fear prior to coming out. We live in a world where trans people are constantly misunderstood and mistreated, but it’s a lot easier now to connect with other people in the community and to find resources for yourself than it has been in the past. It’s ok to be scared, but don’t be too afraid to ask for guidance when you need it.
How is your mental health going?
Lmao always a work in progress! I’ve been doing a lot better now that I’m fully recovered from my surgeries and have clearance to workout again.
One piece of advice that has followed you into your future?
Don’t be afraid to seek out help. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow; it’s ok to utilize outside resources or to ask for help in order to reach your goals.
Can you please provide us a list of organizations that help Trans Communities?
Do you have a final message?
Tough times make tough people. Whatever you’re struggling with right now, one day you’ll be stronger because of it. Don’t give up on yourself.
Follow Jesse Diamond here!