Praveen Nath, transman, is Mr. Kerala

Praveen Nath, a transman from Nenmara in Palakkad, has bagged a gold medal in the transgender category to become Mr. Kerala 2021.

Praveen had won the Mr. Thrissur title in April this year to get selection to the Mr. Kerala event.

His win at the two-day event in Kottayam on Saturday is especially significant as a special category for transgender persons was created by the Body Building Association of Kerala at the district and State levels to allow Praveen to compete.

Twenty-four-year-old Praveen says the journey to the title has been very challenging, especially as the association was reluctant initially to carve a new category for transgender persons. However, Vinu Mohan, a former Mr. Kerala who trained him for Mr. Thrissur and Mr. Kerala, convinced the association that Praveen should be given a chance so that others from the transgender community too could come forward in the bodybuilding sport.

Praveen who underwent a sex reassignment surgery in 2019 had been working as an advocacy coordinator for the Thrissur-based LGBT community-based organisation Sahayathrika when his interest in bodybuilding led him to a nearby Ayyanthole gym where Vinu Mohan was a trainer.

Since he did not have any clue how to get started with bodybuilding, he joined the gym and confided to Vinu that he was a transman who was keen on the sport. Vinu then held discussions with the bodybuilding association, and within six months Praveen had competed in and won Mr. Thrissur.

Praveen says he wanted to do something different in life, become a model for his community, and prove himself to society that tends to disparage transmen. He recalls how he was ridiculed at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, where he studied, or while trying to attend a gym back home in Palakkad. His mother Valsala faced even more barbs. His one thought was to make sure his mother could hold her head high. The Mr. Kerala title, he says, is a reply to his detractors.

Praveen says he has had a lot of support, both mentally and financially, during the journey to the title. The people he met at the Ayyanthole gym, his family, and the transgender community.

He is looking forward to participating in the Mr. India contest in February next year, and then many more events, provided he is able to raise the money without capitalising on his transman identity, says Praveen.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 10:10:00 AM |

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