Declare Your Pronoun and Strike a Pose!
It was two decades since Charles Bennett took the stage to compete in a body building competition. However, back then Charles was a woman. Now at the age of 63, Charles has re-entered the body building arena and entered the worlds only transgender body building competition.
Bennett took the stage with seven other trans body builders on a Saturday night in Atlanta as contestants in the Annual International Association of Trans Bodybuilders Competition.
According to executive director and head judge Bucky Motter, bodybuilders from across the United States have flicked to the event since it began in 2014.
The competitors were judged in the categories of lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight and masters, for age 60 and over, according to five disciplines: mass, definition, proportion, symmetry and stage presence.
Bennett, being the senior on the event said he took more of a coaching role as opposed to competitor. He helped the others with posing tips, diet and a unique tips on how to apply fake tan to cover the scars of having breast removed.
However, for most of the other competitors this was their first time competing. Sandy Baird, of Oakland, California, said, "I've always been interested in bodybuilding but then there was never a nongender opportunity to do it.
"I competed as a woman. This wasn't available to me. We didn't even have the dream of a transgender bodybuilding competition. It's was unheard of. Bennett said as he applied fake tan on himself.
The evening was also special because Bennett’s wife of 31 years, Erica Grace, watched him compete for the first time since he transitioned and had surgery at 56.
"She's seeing me compete for the first time as a man. That's pretty powerful. I had to do it. It means the world to me."
As music thumped pumped through the small theater, each contestant struck a series of poses highlighting their physical attributes and required by the judges — and in the end it was U.S Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Wes Phills, of Brooklyn, New York, who performed his routine to Beyonce’s “Mine” featuring Drake, won the award for overall winner!