Chris Tina Bruce is a 42-year-old personal trainer from San Diego whose passion is competitive bodybuilding. At the Border States Classic Bodybuilding competition on Oct. 29th, the 6’3″, 190 pound hulking woman is making a comeback. Sort of.
Bruce was a regular at these competitions in the early ’90s. The difference was that she was up against male contestants, and she competed as Chris Gary Bruce. Back then Bruce was a man.
Bruce had grown up a man and remained so until 2009. She was married to a woman and fathered two children. No one knew that Bruce identified as a woman. Not friends, nor her family. Bruce’s only outlet into his feminine side was through his job in sales, which allowed him to cross-dress. Wearing women’s dresses would later factor into his divorce from his wife in 2007.
It was a year later that Bruce began to make major changes. She starting taking hormones, testosterone blockers, and underwent plastic surgery. Bruce finally became the woman she always wanted to be. Even with these changes, Bruce remains steadfast in her interests.
Said Bruce to HuffPost Weird News, “I am perfectly fine that a typical male-to-female transgender wants to be girly, but don’t put me in that bag. [...] This is me. I race cars and I love football. I may be a third hybrid.”
Oh and above all, Bruce’s love of bodybuilding has been a constant. Having shed 40 pounds off her 230 pound frame, Bruce has had to incorporate a rigorous training regimen. After explaining his story, the officials at the Border States Classic decided to permit Bruce to enter as a woman.
According to Bruce, while his son, 12, and daughter, 8, are adapting well to life with two female parents, her ex-wife “hates” her newfound womanhood.
This isn’t the first time the gender issue has played a role in female sports. Kye Allums was a male player on the George Washington women’s basketball team until he left for personal reasons. Then, there is the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya, a South African runner who won the 800m gold at the 2009 World Championships. Her dominance in that race has led to intense scrutiny over her gender ever since.
Whether or not Bruce is welcomed by the other competitors, judges or audience, she is in the competition for more than a trophy. She is championing change and the notion of being seen as “human beings.”