Trans teen triumphs in bodybuilding contest after conquering eating disorder
A female-to-male transgender teenager - who has his heart set on becoming the first transgender male to win the Mr Olympia title - is doing astonishingly well for himself in bodybuilding contests, just years after conquering an eating disorder.
Alex Tilinca, 18, has completely turned his life around since 2016, which is reportedly when the eating disorder first began manifesting itself. The then-15-year-old from Long Island would eat only one meal every 24 hours, and weighed himself as much as four times a day.
As recently as last month, however, Alex competed against cisgender bodybuilders at the Victor Martinez’s Legends Bodybuilding Competition in New York.
A nine-year-old girl transitioned after feeling trapped in the wrong body:
After securing a victory in Teen Classic Physique and second place in Novice Classic Physique and Junior Classic Physique, the teenager hopes his success will show everyone that those in the transgender community "are not victims" and are capable of great things.
Alex told Metro.co.uk that at some point growing up, he knew something was "really wrong deep down".
"I didn’t really understand how I felt but I just didn’t want to have anything to do with being a female," he said. "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."
When Alex began watching videos on the topic of gender dysphoria on YouTube, he was finally able to identify what it was that set him apart from his peers.
He came out to his very understanding and accepting mum at the age of 11 and starting transitioning at the age of 12.
In the years that followed, however, he began feeling deep resentment about the fact that unlike other boys, he had not been ''born male''.
Meanwhile, doctors had recommended he lose a certain amount of weight to ensure minimal scarring following his top surgery, and Alex took this to the extreme. He felt that he had to lose as much weight as possible to look masculine, and would sometimes eat only 500 calories a day. As a result, his weight dropped to 100lbs.
Alex said: "I had dysphoria, so I saw myself as hugely feminine, even though people around me were like You’re 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 wouldn’t be enough. I always felt like I needed to overcompensate for the fact I was trans."
In the summer of 2016, the teen decided to tackle the disorder by going to the gym to get fit.
"I felt really uncomfortable in the early days of the gym. But that drove me. I was like, You know what, screw you guys. I feel really stupid right now, but I’m gonna come back in a year and I’m gonna show you."
Feeling inspired, Alex became intent on taking his newfound fitness to the next level - becoming a bodybuilder.
He said: "You’ve got to be open-minded in bodybuilding. You don’t look normal, you don’t have a normal life, so most bodybuilders are very accepting, because we’re all working on our bodies. They understand where I’m coming from.
"They understand that I wasn’t happy with my body and how the world saw me, and I just wanted to become who I was. I feel the most support from the bodybuilding world. Honestly, it’s an amazing community."
In a bid to prepare himself for becoming the first transgender male to win the Mr Olympia title, Alex plans to take three or four years off to build up his muscle.
He said: "If a transgender male is able to compete against men who are born men, it’s inspiring for everyone, not just transgender people. It shows there’s no excuse.’ ‘I want to show that we’re not victims. "
"People always kind of live under the assumption that we need their help and bodybuilding is like a physical embodiment of mental willpower and strength to me."
Taking part in the competition felt amazing. People were cheering for me and taking videos. It made me feel that my hard work was recognised. A rush of excitement came over me. It felt like the world was telling me that I’m on the right track."