"I was biologically born a female but I identify as a male," said Aydian, who is ranked first on the leaderboard. "If I was the first transgender male to land the cover of Men's Health, it would really be a turning point for transgender people in the media today."
As for how big that turning point would be, Aydian says readers, “would be able to see somebody who kind of defeated the odds. I put my heart and soul into my transition and becoming authentic and living the life that was truly mine because I started to feel worthy of life.”
Aydian has the support of one his fellow competitors, 35-year-old military veteran Danny Farrar, who called out a recent transphobic meme about Caitlyn Jenner.
"The fact that I'm in the military, you get a lot of these memes that go around with Caitlyn, for example. And they talk about well that isn't courage, this isn't courage," Danny says. "How sad would it be if only one type of courage mattered. As far as I'm concerned if that’s the life they want to live and he feels like he identifies as a man, so be it. It's not my place to judge another man."
Aydian and Danny's remaining competition includes firefighter and paramedic Tim Boniface, 36, educator Omari Grey, 35, and police officer Adam Wheeler, 34.
And all of the guys make a strong case for the title.
Danny spends his days helping other veterans who are struggling with PTSD, while Tim left a banking job to work in emergency services after 9/11.
"I worked in a bank across from the Pentagon," Tim said. "We were evacuated, and it just hit real close to home. It all just impacted me. It was a motivating force of change in my life."