Cody Harman is a ripped bodybuilder and fitness trainer whose friends would describe him as being ‘hilarious’ and ‘awesome’.
However, things were once very different. During his days as a ‘petite military wife’, Cody from Auburn, California was very shy as he struggled to come to terms with his gender identity.
Influenced by religion and the pressure to conform, Cody married a man in 2008 before joining him to live on a military base in Germany.
Sadly, Cody’s marriage was far from blissful and life on the military base left him feeling lonely and unfulfilled. He knew he was living the wrong life and in the wrong body.
Now 31-years-old, Cody has reflected upon this difficult period with the perspective on the years passed:
My wedding day was the day I completely lost myself. I’d given up like my truth in order to please other people. I was afraid of what people would think of me.
That whole day was just going through the motions and that’s what I did for the next three years.
Admirably, Cody found the courage to build a whole new life for himself; enrolling in culinary school back in the US and seeking a divorce from his husband.
After originally coming out as gay, Cody eventually came out as being transgender – to his brother through email – and then to his mother during a therapy session.
In 2014, he finally began hormone therapy to gain the masculine body he’d always longed for. However, there was a long road ahead.
Brave Cody told Barcroft TV:
I think most people don’t truly understand what it’s like to be transgender and look in the mirror and not align with who you see in the mirror for so many years.
They don’t understand you’d do anything to truly see yourself. It’s like walking through this life being invisible and all anyone wants in life is to be seen and heard and acknowledged and loved.
As well as a a mastectomy and hysterectomy, Cody has also undergone an eight-hour-long phalloplasty procedure; constructing his penis from skin, nerves, and arteries taken from his forearm.
Cody has discussed how the phalloplasty procedure has helped him to feel more at ease within his own skin:
Phalloplasty was important to me because I felt it was the last piece of the puzzle to really complete or really align myself, just to feel comfortable in my own self and my relationships.
Surgery recovery has been longer than I expected. Complications are pretty high for the surgery. I had a second surgery due to a urethral stricture but that was repaired and I’m good now.
Cody now hopes to undergo stage two phalloplasty, whereby an implant will be inserted into his new phallus.
While undergoing his gruelling transitional procedures, Cody set about building his muscles in the gym; achieving a very impressive level of fitness.
Back in October 2016, he even came second place at his first-ever transgender bodybuilding competition; an achievement he’s described as ‘exhilarating.’
For Cody, bodybuilding has special meaning as a way to, at last, gain control over his body.
You can find out more about Cody’s remarkable journey below:
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Nowadays, Cody is unrecognisable from the discontented young wife he once was. He now runs his very own personal fitness business, encouraging other people to reach their fitness ambitions.
He’s also been documenting his transition through his YouTube channel Cody_Talks, raising awareness and openly discussing each uniquely challenging stage of his transition.
After years of feeling fear and shame, Cody is now a source of inspiration for others who are grappling with their gender identity:
If I had one message I was trying to spread, it would just be ‘don’t let fear run your life’.
I did for way too many years and if I regret anything, it’d be putting my life on hold just because I was afraid of what people would think of me and people wouldn’t accept me.
Self-acceptance is way more important and your happiness is way more important, and people are going to see your truth.
They’re going to see your happiness and that’s the most important thing in life – everything else should follow.
Cody’s story just shows how you don’t just have to compromise who you are out of fear of what others think.
With hard work, dedication, happiness and self acceptance, anything is both possible and preferable.
The very best of luck to Cody!
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications. When not Lad-ing about, she enjoys cooking, reading and trying not to fall over in Yoga.