Dexter Thomas is the first openly transgender person to be as winner of PETA’s annual Sexy Vegan Next Door contest, the group announced today.
Thomas, a resident of Salt Lake City, has been vegan since the age of 17.
While in high school, he led a campaign to have vegan options added to the offerings at the school cafeteria.
But as a transgender student he suffered other hardships and ended up dropping out of school.
‘I learned first-hand that people are capable of immense cruelty toward others who they perceive to be inferior to them,’ Thomas says on the PETA website.
‘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I started to realize that this attitude drives transphobia, homophobia, sexism, and so on, I also realized it fuels outdated attitudes toward other animals.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.’
Thomas didn’t give up on his education after high school. He passed the high school equivalency exam, graduated summa cum laude from college, and is now a Ph.D. student of social psychology at the University of Utah.
PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the group’s slogan is slogan is ‘animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.’
Thomas’ advocacy work has included working to oppose rodeos put on the Utah Gay Rodeo Association, volunteering at the Utah Pride Center and serving as a mentor and an activity organizer for LGBTQ youth.
Before pursuing his Ph.D., the website states that Thomas ‘spent almost two years with the National Institutes of Health researching ways to promote health and well-being, including understanding cyberbullying of sexual-minority youth, combating the allure of unhealthy food, and promoting healthy plant-based meals.’