Dexter Thomas of Salt Lake City, Utah, has naturally earned his place in homegrown history, as the first transgender man ever selected by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization as one of the winners of its “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest.
And their prize is no small potatoes. PETA awarded roundtrip vacations for two to Hawaii to Thomas, and to a physician from Washington, D.C., after collating hundreds of entries and counting thousands of votes.
Being a vegan is more than just a choice for Thomas, according to PETA.
“I learned first-hand that people are capable of immense cruelty toward others who they perceive to be inferior to them,” says Dexter. “When I started to realize that this attitude drives transphobia, homophobia, sexism, and so on, I also realized it fuels outdated attitudes toward other animals. This is part of what motivated me to go vegan when I was 17.”
As LGBTQ Nation reported earlier this month, Thomas championed changes at his high school in Utah to include vegan meal options in the cafeteria, according to PETA. However, his transition as a junior and senior was so difficult he decided to drop out before graduation. That didn’t stop Thomas from becoming an advocate for animals and homeless sexual-minority youth: he obtained a GED, graduated summa cum laude from college, and is now a Ph.D. student of social psychology at the University of Utah.
PETA said he scored at the top of their contest, as the first-ever out transgender finalist and winner.
According to the group. Thomas is an advocate against rodeos put on the Utah Gay Rodeo Association and volunteered at the Utah Pride Center, serving as a mentor and an activity organizer for LGBTQ youth. Before pursuing his Ph.D., he was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. PETA said he spent nearly two years finding new ways to promote health and well-being, including better understanding of cyberbullying of sexual-minority youth, combating the allure of unhealthy food, and promoting healthy plant-based meals.
Read more about Thomas, his fellow winner and the contest here.