For the first time ever, a transgender man is in the running for Men’s Health magazine’s Ultimate Guy contest.
In 2014, Men’s Health laid out the groundwork for choosing a non-celebrity and non-athlete that would meet their idea of the Ultimate Man. They elected to choose an “everyday Joe” because they wanted him to be relatable to most men, and it proved to be a popular decision: it netted 1,300 contestants.
The magazine defines the Ultimate Guy as someone who is successful: “It’s not that they’re better than other guys; it’s just that they know what sort of work it takes to succeed, and they’re willing to put their muscle into it.”
Most of the stories submitted are about struggling with an illness or working for charity. The men all speak about overcoming hardships and, of course, being in excellent shape.
His entry for the 2015 contest talks about how he decided to finally be who he really was. He was assigned female at birth, but never really identified with it; he came out as a butch lesbian when he was a teenager, but when he was twenty-one a girlfriend asked him, “Have you ever wanted to be a boy?”
After giving it serious thought, he finally realized, “If you removed the color from my walls, you’d think you were in a boy’s room. So that’s when I broke down. I was sick of not living my life just because this is the one I was given. Becoming myself is what made me more confident.”
In October 2009, he took his first hormone treatment. He says, “It just felt like I had finally finished growing up. I simply grew up as a female, and transitioned to a male.”
In 2012, he had his breasts removed in what is commonly called “top surgery,” but currently has no plans to undergo “bottom surgery.”
Overall, Dowling lives like any other man. He owns the fashion company .5cc and donates money to help other transgender men have their top surgery. He also runs two different YouTube channels: ALionsFears, dedicated to general transgender topics, and Beefheads Fitness, “because there was no one on YouTube making fitness videos for trans people.”
His story has resonated with the Men’s Health magazine community: Dowling is currently in first place, with four times the number of votes as his second place counterpart. It’s too soon to predict the winner, but he is almost certain to be one of the finalists.