I was licensed to practice law in Louisiana this year. Some people would say that this is my
biggest accomplishment, and in some ways it is. It is the pinnacle of my academic career, but
what makes this such a proud moment for me is knowing that I was able to make it this far in my
life as a trans person.
Growing up, I thought that gender roles always had and always would exist, and I didn’t
question the role I was born into as a female. Even though I knew on some level I was different,
I couldn’t place exactly how. I still wore dresses occasionally, contrasting these unplaced
feelings with hyper-femininity.
Throughout my life, the concept of being transgender was always an oddity to me. The only time
I ever heard about trans people was on the news or on talk shows; and being raised in a
conservative Catholic household, the topic was more than taboo. I had no room to explore my
sexuality much less my gender. My tomboy-ish tendencies and my deep emotional attachment
to female friends were written off as me being a southern country girl who wasn’t afraid to get
Until I was seventeen, I repressed my identity, and this manifested itself in different ways. I
threw myself into sports and working out, I tried multiple weight loss diets, and I struggled with
severe anxiety and depression. I thought that if I just worked out enough or ate less, I’d be more
attractive. But, what I didn’t realize at the time was I was never going to be happy with the way
my body looked because it wasn’t right for me.
I “came out” for the first time as lesbian to a few friends and my family during my senior year of
high school. At the time, I knew I was attracted to women, but the label still didn’t feel right. After
I graduated, I attended Southeastern Louisiana University where I joined StandOUT. It was here
that I finally felt a sense of community and belonging. I had friends who were like me, and I met
people who expanded my vocabulary-- adding words like pansexual, asexual, non-binary, and
transgender. In spite of this, I still had internalized phobias.
In my sophomore year, I “came out” as transgender, but I was in a dark place mentally. I had
distanced myself from the community I had come to love, and my family and I disagreed on this
newfound identity. I think accepting that I was a woman attracted to women was easier for them
and myself to understand than identifying as a man and being attracted to women. It was hard
to pinpoint what made it different, and the additional pressure from myself to begin hormone
therapy culminated into me completely reverting back into the closet. Literally, the first thing I did
was throw out any masculine clothing I bought when I identified as a man, and I didn’t think of
my true identity again until it was almost too late.
Between undergrad and law school, I continued this ultra-femininity and slight tomboyish-ness,
and I continued to identify as a lesbian. During this time, I began dating my wife. She had a
seven-year-old daughter, and I was more focused on trying to become a care-giver at the age of
twenty-one than facing who I was. I also knew, from the moment we started dating, that this was
who I was going to marry, and I was petrified that my true identity would sabotage this.
I was accepted into Southern University Law Center that year, and we decided to move to Baton
Rouge. There were a great deal of growing pains at this point. Not only was I dealing with
moving and starting a new school, I was also dealing with the responsibility of being a parent to
my daughter. The pressure was mounting.
Within the first few weeks of starting law school, I had a breakdown. My face was swelling from
stress, and I didn’t think law school was right for me. I thought I had made a mistake, and I knew
admitting failure would only disappoint myself and my family. Under it all though, I knew the real
underlying issue: I wasn’t being true to myself. Law school has a funny way of forcing you to
face yourself. To be successful, you truly have to eliminate all distractions. Whether I was ready
or not, I had to make a decision, and luckily my wife supported me and welcomed me with open
In my second year of law school, I began hormone replacement therapy. I was active in letting
people know that I was a man, and I wanted to be regarded as such. Within the bubble of higher
education, I thrived. I didn’t have to deal with much transphobia or discrimination, my family was
being supportive, and I felt more myself than I ever had. My grades went up, I joined campus
organizations such as OUTLaw, and I graduated in the top 30% of my class. By the time my last
semester came, I was on top of the world, and then the pandemic hit.
I was devastated. There was no graduation, no bar exam, and no jobs. I had experienced and
still am experiencing my highest highs and my lowest lows this year. It was during all of this that
I decided to start my own virtual law firm and that I was hired to do some freelance work for
another law firm. I anticipated my transness in the legal community to be somewhat of an issue
but not to the extent that it has been.
In my day to day life, most people are unaware of my identity. I have been fortunate enough that
with hormones alone, I look and sound like a cisgender man. However, when I have had to
reveal my identity to some of my colleagues, my humanity and fitness as a parent is called into
question. Additionally, when some of my colleagues think I am a cisgender man, they think I will
laugh along with their stories of having to deal with transgender clients.
When I think of my life, I am proud to be transgender, and I am proud of myself for having made
it this far. But, there is so much more work to do. There aren’t many transgender or LGBTQ+
lawyers that stay in Louisiana, leaving the legal community stagnant with people who may or
may not be an ally much less a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Who will be here to fight for those clients like me and others in our community when they step
into a courtroom? I am here, right now, ready to fight. And, I hope to inspire others to stay, to
help do the work, and improve the quality of life for trans and LGBTQ+ folks because it is
needed. It is needed in the rural communities, the big cities, and everything in between.