For fitness enthusiast Aryan Pasha, bodybuilding was never just a way to enhance his physical self, but to make a powerful statement.
And he did so by winning the second place in the Muscle Mania contest on December 1, 2018. In doing so, Aryan became the first transman from India to win a bodybuilding competition.
26-year-old Aryan, who is also a Delhi-based lawyer, was always enthusiastic about staying fit. Bodybuilding, which was a part of his fitness routine, soon became his passion.
When he saw a Facebook post about a bodybuilding competition for transmen in the USA; he decided that he would participate in it. Following three years of rigorous training, he was finally in a good place and applied for the competition.
“The rejection somehow made me stronger and more focused to get over my inhibitions and compete at national competitions. So, that very day I began to write letters to all the national bodybuilding associations and federations, and eventually received a positive response,” said Aryan to The Better India.
The ‘positive response’ was a reply from the officials of the Indian Body Builders Federation (IBBF). He was encouraged to participate and was assured that his gender identity would not be an issue; all they wanted were athletes with a good physique.
Bolstered by the support, Aryan resumed his training. For him, the routine was to be much more intense, as building muscles take longer for transmen as compared to the cisgender male, who naturally can produce testosterone.
He would eventually go on to participate in the Men’s Physique (Short) category in Delhi and create history.
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His effort to make a powerful statement has further resonated in the international corridors of bodybuilding. “I hope to see more people adopt the sport and now, fortunately, the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (IBFF) is going to recognise transgenders in the competition,” he added.
Unlike the Trans FitCon, a bodybuilding competition conducted in the USA which is only for transgenders, the IBFF allows all genders—male, female and now transgenders—to participate. “Although, this year it will only be an initiative from IBFF India, we hope to have the category accepted in other countries as well,” said Aryan to TBI.
Aryan’s battles against the society and its stereotypes had begun early in his childhood. At the age of six, he decided to confront his father and stop wearing a girl’s uniform to school. He even decided to change schools, to be able to make a fresh start in a new environment. At that time, he had not revealed his gender identity to anyone.
It was only at the age of 16, that he came out to his parents, and initiated the transition at 18.
After all these years, his battle continues, but Aryan has now found a concrete direction as he dreams of continuing on this path and pave the way for more people from his community to join in.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)