When FTM magazine
founder Jason Robert Ballard noticed the similarities in physique between Adam Levine and transgender model Aydian Dowling, he decided to recreate Cosmopolitan’s infamous nude portrait of the Maroon 5 front man.
With just a strategically-placed pair of manicured hands to protect their subjects' modesty, both images have a powerful message behind them: While Levine’s Cosmopolitan cover served to raise awareness of testicular and prostate cancer, Dowling’s portrait is designed to deconstruct the myths surrounding transgender bodies.
Asked why he wanted to take part in the photo shoot, Aydian Dowling - who also appears on the cover of this month's issue of trans lifestyle magazine FTM - said that he wanted to "normalise transgender people and tackle someone’s uninformed and undeducated guess on what a trans person would look like".
He added: "They think, 'Wow, I could be sitting next to a trans person on the subway or the guy who opened the door for me could have been trans. We’re no different from any other person in society. It’s just trying to be comfortable with the idea that the body you’re born with doesn’t reflect the identity you have."
The racy image has received almost unanimous support in raising visibility of trans-masculine identities. The magazine's founder, Jason Ballard said: "We've had comments saying 'He doesn't look trans' which brings up a great point on what does trans even look like?"
"Perhaps we're struggling so hard for our rights here because people have a false sense of who we are. So besides the entertainment factor of a sexy naked man, there is an element of positive visibility too."
The image appears in the April edition of FTM magazine, which also includes a pull-out of Aydian himself.
Words: Wangu Chafuwa
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