Although the terms “sex” and “gender” are often used interchangeably, society today is learning to view them as separate entities. This is largely due to the growing consensus that gender one identifies with might not align with the sex one was assigned at birth.

El Lye, 36, from Ipoh, Malaysia, is one example of an individual who was born a woman, identifies as one, but has intentionally developed the physique of a man. When asked if she would call herself a transgender, Lye told International Business Times, “To me 'names' are just an identification. I call myself a human being.”

According to health website Medscape, “Gender identity is defined as a personal conception of oneself as male or female (or rarely, both or neither). This concept is intimately related to the concept of gender role, which is defined as the outward manifestations of personality that reflect the gender identity. Gender identity, in nearly all instances, is self-identified, as a result of a combination of inherent and extrinsic or environmental factors; gender role, on the other hand, is manifested within society by observable factors such as behavior and appearance.”

Lye, formerly named Elaine Lye, is a fitness trainer, bodybuilder and the owner of the Muszle Warrior gym. According to her professional bio on Transform Fitness, she has 20 years of experience in bodybuilding and fitness. She started her resistance training at the age of eight. She currently teaches a local team of about 50 students for transgender online training and more than 30 other clients.

Her dream of becoming a bodybuilder was one of the biggest inspirations behind her drastic transformation. “I’m too indulged in bodybuilding. Having a male physique is inevitable,” said Lye.

To achieve her muscular body, she had to go through a tough regime of working out on a regular basis, maintaining a strict diet and taking testosterone injections. Lye also took anabolic steroids that are known to have side effects such as pattern baldness, acne, lowering of the voice, increased facial hair growth, and breast atrophy in women, according to Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science.

Lye, however, has not gone through any sex change surgeries. She has, however, had a breast reduction surgery performed on her. Standing at slightly more than five feet (154 cm) in height, after transformation Lye weighs 136 pounds (52 kg).

The following pictures depict Lye before her transformation.

El Lye Picture of Malaysian body builder El Lye, before transformation. Photo: Courtesy of El Lye

El Lye Picture of Malaysian body builder El Lye, before transformation. Photo: Courtesy Of El Lye

Today, Lye’s body has completely transformed to the point where authorities have to request her to use a male restroom when in public, instead of a female one, to avoid any confusion or unwanted discomfort to anyone, the Sun Daily reported.

El Lye Picture of Malaysian body builder El Lye post-transformation. Photo: Facebook/ Courtesy of El Lye

Despite this, however, Lye told IBTimes that her peers and family have been very supportive of her decision to change her appearance. When enquired about her personal life, she insisted on keeping the details of it private for now. She did however put to rest the rumors on social media that she was looking for a boyfriend.

Lye said that she is happily in a steady relationship and that “my other half is definitely a SHE.”

Doing what she always wanted and most importantly, being who she always wanted, Lye is an inspiration to many who are still struggling to find a gender identity that they fit into. “Be yourself. Be who you truly are” is the message that Lye wants to convey to all those who are still unsure of where they belong in the world.