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SAN DIGEO – A Hillcrest man used to compete in bodybuilding in the early 1990s. On Saturday, Chris Bruce will return to the stage, competing as a female.

“If you think about it, I am the ultimate body builder,” Bruce said. “Because that is what body building is about. It’s taking your body and transforming it, or building it, into something. “

Transgender BodybuilderThe 42-year-old works as a personal trainer, runs Hillcrest Fitness, and works out several hours per day with the goal to get back into competitive body-building.

Bruce started the transgender process in 2008 by taking hormones, testosterone blockers and some plastic surgery. He got caught up with work and starting a family, until now.  For the first time, Bruce will compete as a woman.

“I realize, walking into this, that there’s 5-7 judges who look at you on stage and try to decide,” Bruce said. “I could be at a disadvantage because they may not like a transgender person competing. I accept that going in.”

Bruce has entered the Border States Classic Bodybuilding competition Saturday night at the Scottish Rite Event Center in Mission Valley.

Event promoter Jon Lindsay said they do not drug, or gender, test at this event and will allow Bruce to compete as a female.

But anatomically, Bruce remains a male, which raises some red flags among bodybuilders.

“This just isn’t a normal man walking the street who has now decided to become a female,” said former bodybuilder Laurie Delaney. “This is a bodybuilding male.”

Delaney started competing as a bodybuilder in 1999 and continues to train as a figure competitor. She said Bruce has a decided advantage.

“Chris has had the opportunity to descend if you will while other females have had to ascend to that same level,” Delaney said. “So they’ve had up or boost their testosterone levels to get to the same levels. Where Chris has had the opportunity to build muscle as a man.”

According to Delaney, someone wanting to compete as a woman should complete the entire process and that bodybuilding should follow the International Olympic Committee‘s Stockholm Consensus that says athletes must wait two years after surgical anatomical changes have been completed.

At 6 foot, 1 inch, 190 pounds Bruce said this is the body she wants and doesn’t know about further surgery.

But Bruce does know competitive bodybuilding will draw attention and compares herself to Chaz Bono who competed on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” after undergoing a sex change.

“This gives me the opportunity in the fitness industry to show that it doesn’t matter, that transgender is a unique characteristic of me as a person,” Bruce said. “It doesn’t define who I am. Bodybuilding, a business owner, a father, that’s what defines me as a person.”