A transgender teenager has triumphed in a bodybuilding competition just years after beating a dangerous eating disorder.
Alex Tilinca, 18, hit rock bottom in 2016, after developing an eating disorder that saw him consume only one meal every 24 hours and weigh himself up to four times a day.
But the Long Islander turned his life around and competed against cisgender bodybuilders at the Victor Martinezs Legends Bodybuilding Competition in New York on August 24.
After clinching first place in Teen Classic Physique, and second place in Novice Classic Physique and Junior Classic Physique, he wants to use his success to show the world that trans people are not victims and can do anything they set their minds to.
Growing up, Alex – originally named Alexandra – knew something was really wrong deep down.
He told metro.co.uk: I didnt really understand how I felt but I just didnt want to have anything to do with being a female. I felt really uncomfortable with the fact that people saw me as a female.
It was like living third party to myself. I was just going with the flow because I had to, not because I wanted to. I felt really wrong, deep down.
It was only when Alex – who now has more than 15,000 Instagram followers – watched videos about gender dysphoria on YouTube that he finally put a name to the wrong.
After coming out to his mum at age 11, he was met with love and understanding and began to transition at age 12.
But two years later, he became angry and painfully envious of those who were born male around him.
After losing the weight that doctors had recommended to ensure minimal scarring for his top surgery, the teenager became consumed by the idea that he had to lose as much weight as possible to look masculine.
He became terrified to eat and would sometimes only consume 500 calories a day.
Soon enough, he weighed just 100 pounds and was going to bed every night hating himself.
He said: I had dysphoria, so I saw myself as hugely feminine, even though people around me were like Youre really skinny, you might want to put some weight on.
I felt very trapped. I felt very helpless, like no matter what I did, it wouldnt be enough. I always felt like I needed to overcompensate for the fact I was trans.
There are a limited pool of studies on the relationship between transgender people and eating disorders, but it has been reported that they experience these issues at rates significantly higher than any other group.
A 2015 study looked at 289,024 students from 223 US universities participating in the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II.
Researchers found that transgender college students were more than four times more likely than cisgender females to report an eating disorder diagnosis such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, and two times more likely to report eating disorder symptoms such as purging.
A Massachusetts Youth Health Survey in 2013 also claimed that transgender youth had disproportionately self-reported unsafe weight management behaviors and nonprescription steroid use, compared with cisgender youth.
In summer 2016, Alex set his mind to beating his troubles and began going to the gym to get fit.
His new interest in fitness was pushed further by watching bodybuilding videos online, and soon enough, he had set his mind on becoming a bodybuilder himself.
Three years after beginning his journey bacRead More – Source