Utah Man Is First-Ever Out Transgender Winner of ‘Sexiest Vegan Next Door’ Contest

PETA's Top Honor Goes to Utah-Based Ph.D. Student Dedicated to Highlighting Link Between Oppression of Animals and Humans

For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2016

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Salt Lake City – An impressive combination of compassion and commitment to taking action against injustice has secured 34-year-old Salt Lake City resident and transgender rights activist Dexter Thomas the top honor in PETA’s 2016 Sexiest Vegan Next Door contest. Dexter, who beat out contestants from across the U.S., will enjoy a free vacation for two to Maui, Hawaii, courtesy of Humane Travel. He is the first-ever out transgender winner in the contest.

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Dexter grew up in rural Utah among cattle ranchers, and since he went vegan 17 years ago, his mother, father, and brother have all made the switch, too. After dropping out of high school because of the adversity he faced as a transgender student, Dexter’s motivation to advocate for animals and homeless LGBTQ youth—including acting as a mentor at the Utah Pride Center and opposing rodeos put on by the Utah Gay Rodeo Association—inspired him to get his GED and go to college, where he graduated summa cum laude.

“I learned firsthand 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I started to realize that this attitude drives a transphobia, homophobia, sexism, and so on, I also realized it fuels outdated attitudes toward other animals.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.”

Dexter is currently studying social psychology as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and taking his rescued cats on walks.

“Dexter’s deep commitment to exposing the common roots of oppression and advocating for individuals in need—regardless of species—makes him number one on our list,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA encourages anyone who’s impressed by our sexy vegans’ vitality and energy to experience the benefits themselves by going vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—selected the winners based on several factors, including vote count. Washington, D.C.–based physician Chioma Ohalete snagged the female title. See the full contest details here.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind