“I stand a little taller, feel prouder of the skin I’m in, and feel more at home with my body.”
When Xiaomin “X” Xue shared his sexuality with his parents after graduating high school, they kicked him out of the house.
“I first came out as a lesbian because that’s who I thought I was, with how masculine I presented,” says the 30-year-old, Austin-based sous chef. “It wasn’t until I got to college and learned about the trans community that I realized who I really am.”
Today, Xue is proud to identify as a transgender Chinese American man, but reaching this point wasn’t easy.
“I was afraid of losing the friends I had in college and losing my job,” he says. “But it had gotten to a point where I had to live as myself.” Once he transitioned, Xue was relieved that his friends and coworkers accepted him. “I was able to finally be happy,” he says.
Fitness played a major part in Xue’s transition by helping him feel like his most authentic self. “It allows me to be more aligned on the outside with how I feel on the inside,” he says. He began lifting weights in college, but later fell into a slump when his demanding job left little time for exercise.
Without a workout routine, Xue’s old doubts about his body came creeping back. “I didn’t feel good about how I looked,” he says. That’s when he bought his Tonal so he could strength train at home on his own schedule.
“Working out physically transformed my body into what I’ve always imagined it could be,” he says. “It gave me the confidence that I never had before. I stand a little taller, feel prouder of the skin I’m in, and feel more at home with my body.” On Tonal, he enjoys the Divide and Conquer program because it’s similar to the bodybuilding splits he used to do at the gym, focusing on a different muscle group each workout.
Besides offering guided sweat sessions, Tonal also became a source of encouragement for Xue. He found support in the Tonal community, and especially the Tonal LGBTQ+ & Allies Facebook group. “I thought I was just getting a great machine to work out on at home,” he says. “I never expected to be able to connect and meet some amazing people like I have.”
Community has been especially important for Xue after losing the support of his family. “Blood doesn’t make family. Love does,” he says. “I am incredibly lucky that I have people who are accepting of me 100 percent of the way.” He credits his loving circle of friends, both online and off, with helping him stay strong.
Xue’s newfound pride and confidence motivated him to share his story and inspire others going through a similar struggle. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing increase in violence against Asian Americans also made Xue aware of the need to improve representation of Asians in the trans community. When he was transitioning, Xue didn’t have many role models who looked like him, but he’s determined to change that.
“I want to be visible for those out there who don’t know we exist. We’re your neighbors, and we’re doing great things with our lives,” he says. “I have to be vocal and stand up for what I believe in.”
For anyone who doesn’t yet feel safe embracing their identity, he wants to send the message that it’s okay to be yourself. “The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more you allow yourself to grow,” he says.