Body-builder Steele will be first trans-woman to compete

Vancouver post-op transsexual Velvet Steele will be the first trans-woman in Canada to compete in the B.C. Amateur Bodybuilding Association’s Nov. 7 Popeye’s Fall Classic. Steele, the Ottawa-born, fit blonde will compete in the Figure portion in Open Class and Grande Masters.

“I’m training six days a week,” Steele said. “I’m training for an hour and a half each day and then also I’m practicing posing and doing all these different things to get my body in shape. And I’m doing this as the first woman who happens to be transsexual.”

BCABBA was reportedly honoured that Steele has chosen to do her first showcase at their competition.

“It is something that I can see why they would say they’d be honoured about it but I don’t see myself as that, I just see myself as going into a competition and wanting to compete against these other beautiful women. That’s what I see it as, but with that little detail of my life, it makes it that much different,” Steele said.

Steele is humble about appearing in the competition, despite being the first transsexual woman to compete in a BCABBA event. She said that she is not trying to change any standards of the competition and that she is living up to the judges’ expectations. Steele wants to show that trans-women have what it takes to compete like any other woman.

“I’m adhering to the standards of beauty that are set out within the world of competition and if it’s going to open doors for other individuals to come along and want to do this, I understand it but I’m gonna put out there to the other individuals that they have to adhere to the rules and standards set out by that world for what they competitions are. You can’t go up there and start setting standards on your own. It doesn’t work that way.”

Aside from being acknowledged as a woman in the competition, Steele also wants to show that she, and other individuals with a similar history, are women and that they are not any less of a woman than any of the other competitors.

“Jenna Talackova who did that one competition where she fought for [Miss Universe Canada 2012], she was just trying to say that ‘I’m a woman as well’ going up on stage to compete in a beauty competition. I’m in a figure bodybuilding competition, still saying the same thing, ‘I’m a woman’ going up on stage to present within your parameters of what the contest adheres to in terms of what its rules and guidelines to be judged on. I respect that.”

As words has gotten out that she is competing, she is already sensing some skepticism.

“It’s hard. It’s exciting but nerve-wracking. I don’t know if people are going to accept me,” Steele said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like walking out on stage. I have to gather all my strength and courage to do that.”

People are skeptical of the fairness in Steele’s decision to compete in women’s bodybuilding because she was born a male.

“I’m excited to see what kind of validation will come my way and what also kind of negativity will come my way and I know there will be.,” Steele said. “I know there are people that are questioning my [genetic make-up], the hormones, the chromosome aspects, all this stuff. If you want to compare what hormones I have in my body with some of these other women that are up there, I can bet you your bottom dollar that I have a lot less levels of testosterone and estrogen than most of [them]. I have no advantage. It’s a challenge for me to gain muscle mass and it’s easy for me to drop muscle mass if I don’t properly eat properly and it’s based on my hormones.”

Asked whether she thinks the audience will react negatively to her showcase, she responds: “For people who know me and those who are supporting me along the way, know what my history is, what my trip is and they see me as a woman. I’m a woman to them. None of that matters. That’s just secondary, that’s just nonsense. I’m a woman and I’m going to be up on stage as a woman.”

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