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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Sergeant Elaina Odom: Sacrifice…Duty….Honor…In the Face of Hate

By Sabrina Samone

Imagine when given a choice between a life of crime and addiction, you had the mental “worthiness” to choose a path that would better yourself, to be an asset to your family, and to defend your country. You would’ve easily chose to be a “burden”¹ on society, to your family, and a drain on your country, but you didn’t. Elaina Odom made the decision to be of service to those she loved, and her country. To save her life from a dangerous path. Eleven years, she dedicated her life to service of country. Climbing the military ranks to become Sargent Odom. Not everyone is cut out for the military, let alone to do more than a few years. Lifers, are dedicated, determined, with a humble passion for serving their nation.

Now imagine, eleven years that included combats in Afghanistan, sacrificing precious time away from your three new beautiful children, for long periods of time. After another deployment to Korea, you come home eager to be with your family, and families unknown that you have risked your life to protect. While you cradle your youngest, make Churros, and put on ‘Book of Life’, so they can calm down; you hear that your Commander and Chief has made yet another early morning tweet. This time it’s to inform you that he does not support you, or even wish for your service.

President Donald Trump announced he was banning transgender people from serving in the military in a series of tweets Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Images via Twitter)

On Wednesday 26, 2017, wrongfully elected Donald J. Trump sent out a tweet that transgender people were not worthy, and a burden to the US military. The summer of 2016, with the help of Former President Barack Obama, the ban was lifted for transgender people to serve openly. Earlier this year, under the new Republican Administration, debate arose in regards to US spending on trans related health care. Many experts have noted that the average cost would be between 2.4 and 8.4 million dollars annually², which is relatively low compared to various other treatments, including elective cosmetics treatments that are covered.

If you are unable to place yourself in those shoes and feel the pride of someone providing a safe comfortable life for their family. A person that’s proud of the work they do for their country. Then meet Sergeant Elaina Odom, because that imaginary scenario is her painfully real story.

TMP: Elaina, as a Transgender American, and active service member, how did it make you feel to hear about the tweets from your Commander and Chief?

Elaina Odom: Honestly? When I first heard about it, I felt like I had been hit in the gut. Seeing those tweets, and getting so many messages from others concerned about it really bothered me. Here we have been fighting for equal treatment, and this happens in attempt to just so easily dismiss us.

TMP: In his Tweets, Trump stated that he had consulted with Generals, and other leaders in the military. He also stated that having trans people in the military would result in additional cost to taxpayers. His entire tweets have since been proven false, and outright lies. But how does that affect the morale of the average military personnel risking their life for that very office to exist?

E. O: I can’t speak for others, but I know that he has had a running track record with not telling the truth in order to further his ideas. As for myself, I was hit with this feeling of loss and hopelessness. What would I do, what could I do? That was the feeling for a lot of other people I talked to as well.

TMP: Being on the front line of this fight, as well as the freedom of our country, what’s your opinion on the treatment for health care of Transgender personnel, which based on a recent report by ABC News, confirms a yearly annual cost for trans related health care of about 8.4M, and how would that compare to the millions more being spent on Viagra to treat male impotence?

E.O.: I can’t say they are doing a perfect job as many health care providers are still learning to treat trans soldiers. From the experiences I have had personally though, they have always been open and willing to work with us. As far as treating impotence outweighing the cost of our care, it really is a numbers game. ED is more common than trans care, and that explains why there is such a deep difference in cost.

TMP: How worried are you about your future in the Military?

E.O.: I have had some concerns that this will end my career after being in as long as I have. But at the same time it presented me with the opportunity to really look at things, and see what I was missing in my plans to provide for myself and my family, should we be discharged.

TMP: When did you first decided that military service was for you?

E.O.: I first thought about joining the military around sixteen, seventeen years old. I was in a bad spot selling drugs, stealing, and things like that. I was not in a good place, and needed to change. The Army offered that opportunity.

TMP: What has having your dreams of being in the military meant to you, and what it could mean to others that want to serve?

E.O.: Truthfully, I never dreamed of joining the military. I joined to get away from a life that would have ended up getting me locked away, or killed. It was a way to survive, and eventually better myself through their offering of education. It meant a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and so much more without the things I was doing.

TMP: You’re a Sergeant, yes? What were the obstacles you faced physically, and mentally to get to that position?

E.O.: I am, yes. Getting promoted to that rank for the longest time seemed impossible as their were so many in my job. They promote on a points based system, and for us we were maxed out on the scale for a good five years almost. I knew I would have a hard time getting all of the points needed, and over time eventually gave up all together. Then one day, I was told hey, you made cut off, you are getting promoted.

TMP: How exciting for you, that’s awesome. Have you been involved in any combats?

E.O.: I served a year in Afghanistan. It was rough being away from my family, as it always seems to be. But it came with the job, I signed on to fight and win our nation’s wars, even if that meant being gone for a year at a time.

TMP: Despite the bigotry we’ve faced this week from the leaders of this free nation, what advice would you give to other transgender military personnel, or those that wish to serve their country one day?

E.O.: Keep your head up, we have a hard road ahead of us, just like before. But progress does not happen without a struggle. We will get where we need to be in time.

 

TMP: I  like to ask my guest here at TMP, that if you could tell the world something unique about Sgt. Elaina Odom³, and you knew everyone would hear, what would you like them to know about you?

E.O.: I honestly don’t know. I have been told I have a knack at being sarcastic to the point that people really can’t tell, but that is about it I think.

Elaina Odom, is one of an estimated 15,500 transgender military members, that would share similar stories this week. A struggle that’s been a battle for decades, with fears of receiving a dishonorable discharge. Military families that are forced to look into each other’s eyes with no other explanation than that of the bigotry of the very country you defended with your life.

We can debate, and recently a study showed that 58% of Americans are in favor of transgender people serving. Yet, let us not forget what is really at stake. We are on the progress to full inclusion into the military, and I fundamentally believe a tweet cannot alter that ship from sailing. What is at stake is the credibility of our democracy. These tweets were no more than a mere distraction from the recent hearings on Russian hacking of an American election. It is really revealing of Trump, that not only was our very democracy’s soul put up for sale, but now the blood of the men, women, and non-binary people who have died for the very existence of this country since it’s conception. 

John F. Kennedy once said, “I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.”

Regardless of what branch, it is a sacrifice. A sacrifice of family, health, and even your life. It’s not a decision many go into lightly, therefore it’s our duty as a nation, as a government, and the duty of the President of the United States to stand by all people who are willing to make that sacrifice for country. Anything less is the true abomination.

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. The military’s Commander and Chief referred to trans military personnel as a burden, and are unworthy. A UCLA study estimates that 15,500 transgender service members to be enlisted on active duty, in the reserves, and in the National Guard. That same study estimated 134,300 transgender people are veterans or retired from the armed forces.
  2. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine states; Providing transition-related care to the 188 military personnel expected to require it annually would cost an estimated $5.6 million per year, or $438 per transgender service member per year, or 22 cents per member per month. If the Australian military’s annual cost of transition-related care were applied to the U.S. armed forces, the Pentagon could expect to pay $4.2 million per year to provide such care.
  3. Sgt. Elaina Odom lives in Texas when not defending her country, a state that has passed bathroom bills punishing transgender people for using the rest room not in accordance to their birth certificate, when she received the news of Trump’s tweets.
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58% of Americans Support Transgender Military Service

By TMPlanet

According to a recent poll by Reuters ¹;  A majority of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military.

The  poll conducted between July 26-28 suggested that the country largely disagrees with Donald Trump’s announcement this week², that he will ban transgender personnel from the armed forces.

When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement,

“Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military³.” Twenty-seven percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were divided on the issue.

Among Republicans, 32 percent said transgender people should be allowed to serve, while 49 percent said they should not. Another 19 percent of Republicans said they don’t know.

Poll Conducted by Rueters

The public was also divided over the impact of banning transgender service members. Some 32 percent said it would “hurt morale” in the military while 17 percent said it would “improve morale.” Another 33 percent felt it would “have no impact” and the rest said they don’t know.

When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14 percent said prohibiting transgender service members made the military “more capable” while 43 percent said “no impact,” 22 percent said “less capable” and the rest said they don’t know.

The president’s announcement, made in posts on his Twitter account, surprised many senior military officers and appeared to pre-empt an ongoing Pentagon review into its inclusion of transgender service members.

The United States’ top military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the military will not alter its current policies until it receives additional guidance from Trump’s secretary of defense.

Roger Kaikko, 61, a Trump voter near Cleveland, Ohio, who took the poll, said he disagrees with the president.

“Even the president shouldn’t be able to take rights away from some people just because he may not like them,” Kaikko said. “They’re people too. Unless they’re causing problems, they should serve just like anybody else.”

Opinions about the ban probably will not have lasting impact on the president’s believe anything, devout followers.

Jan Leighley, an expert in political behavior at American University said, “For many people, this is just a distant political issue. When compared to healthcare, immigration or the economy, the president’s stance on transgender issues “is not something that’s going to change their prior beliefs or attitudes” about Trump.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1.  The Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 1,249 adults including 533 Democrats and 434 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 percentage points for Democrats and Republicans.
  2. #Notmypresident,

    President Donald Trump announced he was banning transgender people from serving in the military in a series of tweets Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Images via Twitter)
  3. A 2014 study estimated that 15,500 trans people were currently serving in the U.S. military. The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that researches gender identity, came to that figure using a 2011 survey of 6,546 transgender Americans. Around 20 percent of that survey’s respondents said they had served in the armed forces. There are currently 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the U.S. military and an additional 800,000 in reserves.
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