Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to queer activist, journalist, actor, Instagram star, and University of Michigan graduate, Leo Sheng.
Through his Instagram, 21-year-old Leo Sheng is documenting his transition with raw honesty to his 47,000 followers. Whether it’s simple physique updates or in-depth captions describing harrowing gender dysphoria, Sheng approaches conversations around transitioning with candor and vulnerability. A self-described advocate and activist, Sheng uses Instagram to start a dialogue around LGBTQ issues — especially critiquing the community for racism, transphobia, and often unrealistic body standards. Leo is also a film student at the University of Michigan, where he’s written and directed several short films. He hopes to use film the same way that he’s used social media to tell the stories that are often untold and to increase transgender visibility and representation. In 2019, Leo made his small screen debut in Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q as Micah Lee, a softspoken sociology professor still trying to figure out life.
Here is Leo Sheng in his own words about the need for understanding the diversity of trans experience as individuals make their transition:
I want people to realize that “transitioning” can mean something very different for everyone. Max from “The L Word” was my first exposition to transmen and the concept of transitioning. Eventually, I realized that some people embark on certain paths (surgeries, hormones, name changes, etc.) and some don’t. Not all transmen are like Max. There’s no general image or general reference for transgender-identified folks and there’s no “one way” to be who you are. Through my own identity as a transman, and one of a race other than white, I really wanted to share my own experiences to show that everyone’s on a different path. It’s not an easy journey and I don’t think it’s ever really over. It can be emotionally draining, but it can also be really rewarding.
Today we honor Leo Sheng has our Evolved Man of the Week.