Kendy is a transgender bodybuilder from Vietnam who has been defying great odds in the rather conservative country.
As the first openly Vietnamese transgender bodybuilder, his efforts in promoting LGBTIQ rights is being hailed as a bold step in a progressive direction.
The 27-year-old, who stands all muscular and fit at 5’2″, is currently busy practicing in hopes of capturing the gold at Vietnam’s national bodybuilding competition.
“I feel confident about the competition,” Kendy told the Week via a translator. “I have to be confident. If I meet a strong opponent, I may lose, but what matters is that I see myself as a winner.”
In 2017, Vietnam is set to make sexual reassignment surgery legal, also allowing trans people to change their ID documents to match their gender identity.
For now, the clean-cut competitor will have to keep his birth name Nguyen Thi Trang on his ID. He has, however, been using the name “Kendy” after coming out as a trans man. Aside from the name change, he has also spent years molding his mind and body to achieve his desired image.
As a member of Chi Minh City’s bodybuilding team, Kendy has taken an important role for the local LGBTIQ community as its model. His coming out also came at a time when the group is in dire need of a voice in its fight for equality.
“Since I came out, some transgender people I know have been more open,” he said. “They don’t hide themselves anymore.”
Still, Kendy faces a huge challenge in opening the country up to be more accepting of the LGBTIQ community. As with his own family who took years before his true gender identity was accepted, the largely patriarchal community of bodybuilders in Vietnam may take some time to come to terms with a Vietnamese transgender male competitor.
The Vietnam Bodybuilding Federation, has even prohibited Kendy from competing in the men’s division. Prepared for such rejection, Kendy’s spirit was not dampened the slightest bit.
“It doesn’t matter if I am a trans man or not,” he said smiling. “What matters is my attempt at bodybuilding and that I put my effort into training.”
With Kendy’s unwavering confidence and positive attitude, more Vietnamese will be inspired to come out and be confident in accepting who they really are.