This Transgender Bodybuilder Is Crushing Barriers in Vietnam
As a conservative country’s LGBTQ community finally finds its voice, one athlete fights for the right to compete as his true self in a hyper-masculine sport.
Photos by Vinh Dao
It’s Sunday morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Blistering heat is vaporizing last night’s downpour on the streets of District 7, an upscale area southeast of the city center and popular with expats. Under the unforgiving lights of a gym so polished it looks barely used, Kendy rehearses the poses that he hopes will win him gold at Vietnam’s national bodybuilding competition in November. The 27-year-old bodybuilder and personal trainer turns to his side, lifting his front heel, and flexes his calf muscles. He inflates his chest and curls his arm, stretching the tree of life tattoo imprinted on his deltoid six months ago. The latest inked addition, a Polynesian turtle on the back of his hand, is three months old; “It means family,” he explains.