Leo Sheng Shares His Transition Story and LGBTQ Work Prior to ‘The L Word: Generation Q’

Leo Sheng is part of the new cast of The L Word: Generation Q. The follow-up series introduces new LGBTQ characters Sophie (Rosanny Zayas), Dani (Arienne Mandi), Finley (Jacqueline Toboni) and Micah (Sheng). Micah is the first trans lead on the groundbreaking drama.

(L-R) Arienne Mandi as Dani Nunez and Leo Sheng as Micah Lee | Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SHOWTIME

Sheng spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone before the holidays about his role on the show. He shared his personal transition story and how his work in the LGBTQ community led to his role as Micah. The L Word: Generation Q airs Sunday nights on Showtime.

Leo Sheng’s transition

Leo Sheng described his transition in two parts, social and medical.

Leo Sheng
Leo Sheng | Kharen Hill/SHOWTIME.

“I personally came out as trans when I was 12,” Sheng said. “I came out initially with just my name being the most important part of my identity, or as my social transition. My social transition began when I was 12 and that included my name and pronoun change, having teachers and my classmates respecting that. I then started my medical transition when I was 18 and in college. So for me, there was kind of a lot of changes all at once when I did all of that.”

Leo Sheng has been involved with LGBTQ issues long before ‘The L Word: Generation Q’

While in college at the University of Michigan, Leo Sheng was active in the LGBTQ community.

The L Word: Generation Q - Leo Sheng
Leo Sheng as Micah Lee | Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SHOWTIME

“I worked at the Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan which is one of the oldest LGBTQ resource centers on a college campus,” Sheng said. “I had the privilege of facilitating workshops and leading workshops and queer identities, queer language, queer history. Then I worked at the multi-cultural center on campus. So a lot of my work kind of blends my trans identity and my racial identity and also integrating other social identities.”

Now the world can see Micah and Leo Sheng 

Leo Sheng went on to graduate school at Michigan but left after one year to make the film Adam. The casting director for the film actually found him on social media. After that film he auditioned for The L Word: Generation Q. The importance of playing Micah is not lost on him.

“It’s something I take incredibly seriously,” Sheng said. “It’s a huge honor but it’s also, we talk about this all the time on set, it’s so much bigger than ourselves. Our characters are going to mean so much more to other people. So it’s a huge honor. It’s slightly scary but it’s something I appreciate and I know that I would have appreciated when I was coming out.”

Leo Sheng as Micah
Leo Sheng as Micah Lee | Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SHOWTIME

Even in the first weeks of The L Word: Generation Q, trans viewers have reached out to Sheng on social media.

“People have been really sweet on Micah,” Sheng said. “I’ve gotten messages that they’re also trans. Or, that they’re learning so much from Micah. Or, that they feel like Micah’s someone that they can relate to even though they’re not trans, just his awkwardness or the way he pulls out the gift card, that kind of thing. It really is heartwarming that other people are connecting with him.”