Dexter Thomas has officially been voted the first-ever out transgender winner of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Sexiest Vegan Next Door contest. The 34-year-old Salt Lake City resident and 17-year-vegan beat out nine other male finalists and scores of other applicants to win the title. Thomas’ vegan activism began in high school, when he led a campaign for vegan meals in his cafeteria. Bullying and anti-trans sentiments from his classmates led him to drop out of school, but Thomas bounced back, earning his GED, graduating summa cum laude from college, and working at the National Institute for Health, before becoming a PhD student at the University of Utah. Thomas’ other accomplishments include working to end Utah’s rodeos; mentoring LGBTQ youth at the Utah Pride Center; promoting plant-based meals; and getting his entire family to go vegan. Thomas received widespread support from LGBTQ vegans, including last years winner, Victor Ivan Barragan. “I am beyond excited and honored to win,” Thomas told VegNews. “Especially now during an extremely dark time for LGBTQ+ people. This is welcome and important because this isn’t about me. This is recognition that reflects the heart of many people who have chosen to stand tall and to extend love and kindness. There are so many different kinds of beauty in the world. Trans is beautiful, diversity is beautiful, and compassion is beautiful.”
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