Le’O Wallace

Le’O Wallace,  is a 27 year old trans male originally from Chicago Illinois. He currently lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, with his younger sister and fur baby, (his cat). He serves in the military as a reservist and also works for Panasonic on the civilian side. He is very passionate about his career in the military, civilian job, family, his lady (sorry ladies), and about helping others when he can. Le’O started his transition in November 2015, when he decided what exactly he wanted for himself and who he truly was as a person.

“I remember when I was younger always hanging out with the guys, not so much girls and it never phased me one bit. For the longest time I thought for sure I was one of the guys. Even when my mom dressed me up in girl clothes. I didn’t care because I was one of the guys, did what they did,  and didn’t feel weird about it. It wasn’t until I got older, and my body started puberty as a female, did I realize, that I’m really not like the other guys. Though that bothered me some, I just continued to live my life as a masculine individual. I played all kinds of sports while I was in school. I had the most fun playing wrestling, football,  and was even the only female on my high school football team for 3 years and wrestling team for 2 years. Of course, I had to continually prove myself because, some of the guys didn’t think I should be there. Yet, I surely gain their respect after making it through 2 weeks of hell week, when I played football. When high school was over I continued to struggle with trying to find a place where I fit, and for people to see me as another man. Even though that’s what I wanted, when people would use male pronouns, because I was assigned female at birth, I’d correct them as if it wasn’t right. I didn’t know at the time, what I was feeling then was actually called gender dysphoria. I just thought I needed to keep suppressing those feelings of wanting to be this guy that I wasn’t assigned at birth,” says Le’O Wallace.

It was a few years ago while on Active Duty that Le’O says he started watching YouTube videos on other people like himself. Listening to what they were going through. It was through those videos that he says he  learned what transgender meant. At that time being active duty and coming out as trans was not an option, so he left his position and kept it to himself. Later he would join the reserves, feeling it would be easier to transition while continuing to serve, and continued his education. That November in 2015 was when he decided to go see a therapist and figure himself out. After attending therapy session, support group for other trans guys, he decided to live his truth. On 6 April 2016 Le’O says he had his first shot of testosterone and began living his authentic truth, while serving his country ever since.

Last week #notourpresident tweeted a ban on transgender service, though currently unofficial, it has halted the hopes of many transgender military service members. Our country is plagued by division at an all time high. Records numbers of African American men have been victim to police violence and the murders of transgender women of color continues to be an epidemic, largely ignored by our own black community. Division plagues even the trans community. The voices of trans men of color often goes overlooked or out right ignored. Trans men of color are among the most courageous, silent heroes of  our community, as well as trans military personnel that are the most ignored and under appreciated people serving this country with their lives. For these reasons and many more is why Le’O Wallace is TMP’s Role Model of the Month.

 

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The Inspiring beginning of life as a Gay Trans-Man in Carolina

Guest Post by Chad Smith

 

Growing up as a kid, I was always that ‘tomboy’. I would rather play kickball, soccer, or baseball with the guys, rather than sit around doing each other’s hair and talking with some girls. This being said, I’m sure my parents had some speculations starting young. My mom would make sly comments saying, “I’m wondering who has longer shorts on: My husband (wearing booty shorts), or my daughter (baggy basketball shorts)?” It was comments like these that made me scared growing up to be anything but ‘different’.

Middle school was the hardest time. But I mean, it’s the most awkward stage of a human being, I’m sure it’s hard for everybody. I had to start wearing a sports bra. Even though my chest hadn’t really presented itself yet, we had to change for PE. When things did start to happen, I was glad I had the sports bra instead of a padded one. I could still try to hide my chest. Later on I started getting in trouble for doing drugs and such. It was the hardest time for me and I hadn’t even realized it yet. But this was the time I truly was trying to find myself.

Well high school came, and things were fine. I became a pretty decent popular girl, known for her athletics and musicality, bright personality and a sense of humor. But what nobody knew was that she never felt more dead in her life.

By junior year, I cut my hair and came out as bisexual. I started dating girls, and everybody assumed I was a lesbian. I guess I started to think that too. I had dated another popular musical athletic guy the previous year, and so this changed sparked a lot of talk. But ya know I was the same person really. My parents, Mom especially, were not accepting at all. That’s what made everything so hard, knowing that being me is wrong in my parent’s eyes.

Finally by senior year, I started putting ‘Chad’ on my instrument cases in band. That was the only place I truly felt safe in high school, even to the point where I skipped lunch and just went to the band room to practice. I knew that this was the only place I could really be me. By the end of the year, my band director asked if she should be referring to me as Chad. It was the end of the year, so I felt no need for the sudden change. I was not yet out to really anybody, I had wanted to wait for anything.

A week before graduation, my Mom confronted me about being a lesbian, or transgender. I told her, “I go by Chad. I am transgender, and I am your son.” She cried and yelled at me to inform my Dad. To my shock, when I stood there in tears telling him what I had said, he came up to hug me. He doesn’t agree, but he knows that this is me, and regardless of being gay or straight this is not a choice of mine. After graduation, I made a Face book page for the REAL me. I deleted that stupid girl page. I deleted the almost 1,000 friends I had on there, and started over. My first friends were the few friends I told, and then slowly throughout the years following, people from high school. It’s funny; I’m even friends with my old band director.

I went to college, and showed up living my life as the male I know myself to be. My classmates have no clue until I become close with them. The only people that do know are those that are in the band with me. People slowly found out about my transition. Some it took until our final band rehearsal, where I did underwear run in my bright purple sports bra and boxers, to know about my life. But once that happened, more questions sparked.

I had just been in a relationship with a guy in the band, a gay cis guy. People that didn’t know just assumed I was the same. But now that they knew, their thoughts became more askew. I’m a female to male transgender now dating a guy? Dating a GAY guy? It is so different and unique; it was scary for some to think about. But psh, they don’t even know how it feels to be that person. I went into college calling myself a straight male. I present myself as that, even now. I wear my hats backwards or tilted to the side, black or dark skater-type shirts, and nice fitting pants, my voice slightly high due to low testosterone levels, but it’s not that ‘gay tone’. People would never know that I’m transgender or gay! But once they get a sense of one or the other, things become different.

The scariest thing was coming back after that first year of college, and informing my friends that I had dated and slept with gay guys the past year. No words but, “Are you serious?” were muttered from their mouths. I never thought that my lifestyle could affect others so deeply. But it was in those moments that I realized this is real life. Yes others like me exist in this world, but it’s such a rarity. And to be honest, I hate that. I hate that my friends are scared for me, because they are afraid people are going to hurt me for being different. If this world just became more caring or understanding, we wouldn’t have to live in fear constantly.

But now, this being about my third year living as a straight up male, I can’t be any happier. I perform as a drag king, and met my lovely boyfriend on the same stage that I perform on, but he performs as a drag queen. It’s different, it’s unique, but it’s life.

A lot of people hear bits and pieces of my story, and say I’m so brave for being me. But nobody should be scared to be yourself. I lived in a house full of fear, but when I realized I was okay for being me, I let nothing stop me. The past few years and made me stronger and stronger, and I hope for anybody transiting or coming out as anything, they realize that it is okay. No matter what, be you. Because no matter what you are not alone.

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