Dowling marks the first transgender male to be represented in the magazine

Credit: Courtesy Aydian Dowling

Aydian Dowling did not win the title of the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy – but the transgender activist still made history.

After winning the Reader’s Choice pick with over 72,000 votes, Dowling, 28, lost the cover contest to firefighter and EMT Tim Boniface.

Dowling said on Facebook he held “feelings of disappointment for what could have been an amazing opportunity for our visibility as a community,” but added he was grateful to be part of the competition.

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“The work we have put in the last 6 months was and is still completely relevant to our movement to full Transgender Rights and Equality,” he wrote in the post on Monday, where he congratulated the winner. “Our community, together with our allies, have made a big mark in the minds and hearts of the main stream media. We joined together and showed that we have a voice that is LOUD and PROUD! Let’s continue this fight and together we will all be embraced for our journey to authenticity.”

And although he won’t appear on the cover of Men’s Health November issue, the vlogger will appear on the cover of the magazine’s special edition alongside the four other contestants. Dowling – who first started identifying as transgender when he was 21 – marks the first transgender male to be represented in the magazine.

“Change happens in layers and this is a huge layer we have peeled back! The doors opened with this Collectors Edition cover,” he wrote. “I am grateful, proud, and humbled by being the one our community and supporters chose to be the representation for Transgender Men today. We are on that cover – as men.”

On the special edition cover, Dowling is labeled as “The Pioneer.”

“It’s such a privilege to have that status,” he said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where he got his first look at the cover. “I’ve been putting effort into giving visibility and supporting the transgender community for the past five to six years. I’m so privileged to have that honor.”