By Mark McConville
MEET the bodybuilder who hopes to become the first transgender man to win the world’s biggest bodybuilding competition – Mr Olympia.
Ajay Holbrook (20), from Houston, Texas, USA, began life as a female but has identified as a male since he was 16.
The automotive technician began working out two years ago after being physically abused by a close relative and has gone from a light 6st 13lbs to a more hefty 10st 9lbs.
“To be honest I never really enjoyed working out,” he said.
“My mother has been a personal trainer for as long as I can remember and it never really interested me until about two years ago.
“I was actually physically abused by a relative at the time and I never wanted to feel that defenceless again, so I began working out to be able to defend myself and not feel so helpless and small.
“Looking back on it now, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.
“I want to leave behind a legacy for all transgender individuals and compete in the biggest bodybuilding competition (The Mr Olympia) as the first transgender man and of course I would love to at least place if not win.”
Ajay, who used to be known as Ambreia Jane, explained how he felt living as a female and why he decided to make the change.
“I absolutely hated myself, and could barely look at myself in the mirror,” he added.
“I hated waking up every day and I often times felt very suicidal without really knowing why.
“I finally decided that my happiness and success in life meant more than the judgement of others. I had to finally put myself first for once rather than trying to please those around me.
“I took the first steps to getting on Testosterone, which in Texas you are required to have at least six months of therapy with a gender specialist to be able to start Hormone Replacement Therapy.
“I can look in the mirror for the first time in my life and love who I see staring back at me. I am more confident, I am happy and no longer miserable.
“I look forward to waking up every day and am able to deal with life’s everyday troubles a lot more efficiently. I no longer want to die, but only want to live as much as I possibly can.”
Ajay has not had any surgery yet so his remarkable transformation is all down to his weightlifting and his diet.
He can bench press 136kg and squat 142kg but revealed things aren’t so simple outside the gym.
“A lot of my family does not understand what it means to be transgender therefore do not accept me, and I just keep my distance from them,” he said.
“My mother and grandmother however are really my only close family. At first, they also did not understand and weren’t exactly against it nor for it.
“Over the years they have seen me blossom and are starting to understand just how important my transition is to my success, and I am forever grateful that they were able to open their minds enough to see that.
“I wish that more people would understand that it is not as taboo as they may think. In reality, transgender people have been around since the first humans.
“In some cultures they are worshipped as being ‘two spirited’. I wish that more people would see it for what it is rather than jumping to the conclusions that we are mentally ill simply because they cannot understand what their brain cannot comprehend.”