In recent years transgender people have made huge strides in gaining visibility. However, there is still much work to be done in terms of mainstream society reaching a true understanding of the nuances of the many different kinds of transgender experiences. For instance, while many might be familiar with those individuals who transition from one end of the gender spectrum to the other, there are also those who are perfectly happy -- and intent on -- existing somewhere in the middle.
One of those people is Chris Tina Bruce, a personal trainer and bodybuilding competitor who is featured on National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" on Sunday night. Chris Tina recently made headlines as the first trans person to compete in a body building competition in San Diego. On "Taboo" she discusses the challenges of being trans -- especially as someone who is content to exist somewhat in between genders -- and we have a special clip of the show above.
Chris Tina was also kind enough to answer a few questions for The Huffington Post. Check out our interview below and make sure to tune in to National Geographic Channel's "Taboo: Changing Gender" this Sunday, September 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
The Huffington Post: Why did you want to be a part of the show?
Chris Tina Bruce: My hope is that telling my story would assist in cultivating change in our society about transgender people. So much of society associates the stereotypes of Ru-Paul, Rocky Horror Picture Show or Corporal Klinger of MASH portrayed by much of our media as what being transgender is, although most transgender people try to blend into society as every other person.
What do you hope people learn from watching the show?
Being transgender is one of my unique characteristics as a person, although it does not define who I am.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?
Overcoming the immediate fear of the unknown. So many people do not understand transgender people and fear the unknown. Once they are able to meet and really get to know a transgender person they realize it's about gender and not about a fetish or perversion.
Do you feel like you're a role model?
I have tried to set an example of how important it is to be yourself and to be tolerant of the uninformed about my gender differences. How can I ask others to be accepting and tolerant if I am not open to educating and accepting the viewpoint of others?
Do you think things are getting better for transgender people in America? If so, what do you think has caused that change?
I have noticed in the past few years that society at large has been more open to being educated about my difference and I believe the work of Chaz Bono as well as other documentaries such as Taboo, have shone a light on the real life of a transgender person.