Under the unforgiving lights of a gym so polished it looks barely used, Kendy rehearses the poses that he hopes will win him gold at Vietnam’s national bodybuilding competition in November.The 27-year-old bodybuilder and personal trainer turns to his side, lifting his front heel, and flexes his calf muscles.They’ll remain covered during the upcoming competition, too, but by a bikini top, since he will be part of the women’s division.“I feel confident about the competition,” Kendy says through a translator. If I meet a strong opponent, I may lose, but what matters is that I see myself as a winner.” Kendy claims the title of Vietnam’s first openly trans man bodybuilder.“What matters is my attempt at bodybuilding and that I put my effort into training.” Kendy was born in the northern port city of Hai Phong.“When I was two or three, I knew that I was not like other girls,” he says. I did everything like a boy and I hung out with boys.” Being different at school did not make him a target for bullies, he says, perhaps because of his audacity. “So when I came out, people around me were not surprised.” At the age of fifteen, he took up karate, but his training came to an abrupt halt three years later when he fractured his arm during a competition.
Kendy stands at the crossroads of two Vietnamese communities – LGBTQ people and bodybuilders – in a patriarchal and conservative society where obedience is often expected of women above anything else, and homosexuality is discouraged.
Turning away from his reflection, he squeezes his shoulder blades together and then swivels around, smiling back into the mirror.
Concluding the routine, he pulls up his vest, flashing a washboard stomach, though he stops at the pecs.
He moved to the more liberal southern metropolis with his parents, who had found hotel work on a fashionable downtown street, and his then eight-year-old brother.
He says it was about that time he wanted to begin living as a man, something his parents struggled with accepting.
If you really want to get a rock hard body you can do it all without using steroids but you most likely are not going to get the quick and big results that you want.