Body By Alex: Hofstra bodybuilder aims to be 1st-ever transgender 'Mr. Olympia'
Like most college freshmen, Alex Tilinca is still trying to figure out his future. But he has a past that sets him apart.
Tilinca is a transgender bodybuilder. Before the age of 10, Alexandra Tilinca dreamed of being someone else. While others thought it was a phase, Alex knew all along.
"I saw these action figures and video game characters and said, 'I want to be them,'" says Tilinca.
When Alex was younger, he never liked who he saw in the mirror and felt compelled to do something about it. The road has not been easy.
"I grew up surrounded by boys, and I always copied everything they did, and I tried so hard to embody, and I realized, wait, I'm not trying to be a boy, I am a boy!" says Tiliinca.
At 10 years old, Alex built up the courage to tell his mom first.
"He just looked at me like, 'I don't think you really understand what that means.' I said OK, but it doesn't make a difference regardless," says Monica Tilinca, Alex's mother. It didn't make a difference to his father either.
With the family on board, Alex underwent therapy, then hormone therapy and finally surgery when he was 16. Now, 18-year-old Alex is a determined Hofstra student and full-time bodybuilder -- he says it's everything he wanted to be.
All the while, he says he doesn't want to be known as a trans bodybuilder, he wants to be a bodybuilder who happens to be trans.
Alex recently won a bodybuilding competition in the Bronx. Mom and Dad looked on, cheering and crying.
"It was beyond exciting and then to find out he actually won, I was floored," says Monica Tilinca.
Alex's ultimate dream is to lift the biggest trophy of them all -- becoming the first transgender Mr. Olympia.
His parents' advice for those going through a similar situation as they did years ago?
"Listen to your children, give them the benefit of the doubt and don't dismiss them," says Monica Tilinca.