Men’s Health is truly stepping up the inclusiveness by becoming a place for all men, and their newest transgender cover model Ben Melzer is talking all about it with Paper magazine.
As the coverguy for this month’s Men’s Health Germany and a finalist for their “Ultimate Cover Guy” contest, Melzer is the first ever transman to cover a European fitness magazine. For Men’s Health, he’s the second transgender man to grace their cover after Aydan Dowling appeared on a collector’s edition late last year.
He took the time to chat with Paper about a variety of issues, particularly masculinity as a transgender man, and it’s good stuff.
On competition with the other cover models:
[When the competition first started I] was like, “Wow, there are some machines in the room.” But it didn’t feel like a competition, we were all very nice to each other, and it was a very, very cool atmosphere. Some of them had no idea about my past — that I’m a trans guy. Some knew, but when they saw me, they didn’t believe it — and they were very curious, but in a respectful way.
They asked me a lot of things, and I guess it was easy for them and easy for everyone to handle, because I’m very open. You can ask me almost anything. I don’t get mad about somebody asking things because I think it’s important to educate, and to open up their minds. To make transgender, like, normal — to have them know that it wasn’t a choice.
On challenging gender norms while still loving fashion:
Some people ask “Is that the little girl in you, that you love fashion?” I’m very vain! I’m vain when I take care of myself. I don’t go out without looking in the mirror. But just because of my past, people are like “Is that the little girl in you?” But I think that it has nothing to do with gender or sexuality — I’m just shoe-addicted. I love shoes, I really love shoes.
…and why he wants Calvin Klein to call him:
My future, my life goal, would to be a Calvin Klein commercial. Just wearing underwear, because you need to accept your body. And you need to transport a message — and you can’t transport that message if you don’t feel comfortable. You have nothing but your skin, and this underwear. I want to open doors for others, so they don’t have to live in stealth. [Let people know] they’re able to achieve their dreams if they go after them.