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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The masquerade ends now

Thor Roe, Fullerton College’s Associated Students President, is a high-preforming honors student, member of LiveWire Literary Journal and engaged to the love of his life.

Not to mention the two-tour US Navy vet has received acceptance letters from all of the top California universities he applied to, although he’s still waiting on the official acceptance from Harvard.

With all this, one would think that Roe’s life is aces.

But what many don’t know about the school’s highest elected student official, is that Thor Roe is a transgendered woman named Sophia Alexander and has struggled with coming to grips with her place in the world ever since she could remember.

Sophia Alexander.jpg

Not many outside of A.S. and Alexander’s close friends know this immensely intimate secret, even then, it was only recently that Alexander’s friends were privileged to know the secret she has guarded so closely.

Early life

Born in Denver Colorado, Alexander never lived with anything close to a reasonable definition of luxury. After moving around multiple times in her early childhood, Alexander’s family settled into a rundown, and later condemned apartment in the poorer part of Wichita Kansas at age 4.

Even at an early age Alexander had more curiosity than most children when it came to who she was.

“I remember having a thought in kindergarten when I was on time-out, and thinking of what its like to be a boy and a girl, and what the differences between the two were,” Alexander recalled.

At this time in her life, Alexander said her family life had begun to deteriorate. She saw her father for the last time as he was taken away for hitting her mom, which in-turn caused her mother to drop into a deep depression that kept her in bed for over a year.

During the next few years Alexander’s family moved throughout several different apartments, after a series of evictions. Her family’s financial situation spiraled until they finally moved into the basement of her grandmother’s house. Things didn’t get better from there.

Alexander’s mother and grandmother fought constantly and drank even more, which eventually led Alexander’s mother to purchase a trailer in 2000 for her and her children to move into.

“Once we moved in there things were good for about a year,” Alexander recalled.

But good things seldom last. Alexander and her mother began to constantly argue to the point where police would be called by one or the other. After a few times, Alexander made the decision to run from the cops toavoid being taken to jail.

“So I started running from the cops and evading them, thats kinda like the routine it became. We would get into a really big fight and the cops would come and I would run away and hide in the woods,” Alexander told me.

At the same time Alexander was honing her skills as a wrestler and gaining a reputation on the school yard for “not feeling pain.” She admitted to being involved in at least a dozen fights before the age of 13.

Fighting was not all that Alexander excelled at during school, her mother frequently took her to the library and reading became a passion for her. Because of this, Alexander began to read books far beyond her fellow students, who were mainly from more affluent neighborhoods.

One book that captivated her from age 13 was “The Warrior Elite” by Dick Couch which details the training of US Navy SEALs. That book would resonate with Alexander for years to come and in ninth grade she decided to cut her hair and join ROTC. She credits this goal of striving to become a Navy SEAL as the primary motivation for her high school graduation.

Military life

After high school, Alexander joined the Navy in 2008 with the goal of becoming a SEAL. Although she was not able to get a guaranteed slot, she continued her career in the military to work towards her ultimate goal.

After boot camp Alexander attended a school for her job as an Electronic Warfare Specialist.

“I wasn’t the smartest person in my class, by far, but I made up my mind to try my damnedest to be the top of my class; that would be the first time I ever succeeded at anything,” Alexander said.

Her damnedest consisted of ten hour work days, followed by three hours of extra study time at the school house where classes were held- all on top of her daily intense physical training. Nothing would stop Alexander from achieving her goal.

In the end, the strict regiment paid off, as Alexander finished at the top of her class with a meritorious promotion.

She recalled that it was the first time in her life she felt good about herself. From then on that was her standard, first or nothing. Alexander was first in all of her classes from that point forward.

Being top of the class in the Navy has its rewards. Alexander was able to pick the ship she would be assigned to, and for her there was only one place to be- San Diego.

San Diego wasn’t just a premier station in the Navy to Alexander, although it is where SEAL training takes place and that was still his driving force in her life. San Diego was a magical place her mother had always talked to her about. Long ago Alexander’s mother had visited the Southern California city and fallen in love, always striving to move back there.

This was Alexanders chance to fulfill a dream of her mothers and she took the bull by the horns.

During her time in San Diego, Alexander moved her brother out with her to help him get his life together and although a naval life was “broken” when it comes to stability, they were able to spend quality time together hiking, camping and enjoying life.

It was also at this time that Alexander had decided to start taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which she would start and stop as progress became more and more visible for fear of being found out and ultimately given a dishonorable discharge.

This was a cycle that was repeated over and over just for her to feel happy with herself. She bought mail order hormones from over seas clinics in South East Asia and Austria.

Despite being an exceptional seaman and finishing the top of her class Alexander was denied her dream of attending SEAL school.

In 2014 this became apparent to Alexander and she decided to leave the Navy for education. She notified her family of her decision and let them know that she would not being renting the apartment for them anymore.

What came next?

After visiting a friend in Fullerton one weekend, Alexander decided that this was where the next leg of her journey would take her. She had saved money over the previous few months by living in her car.

This carried with it deep ramifications if her naval supervisors ever found out, but luckily that never happened.

Alexander moved in with a good friend shortly before school started in the fall semester of 2015. The two of them would share a bachelor unit at the Ambassador Inn Apartments.

Five days after Alexander left the Navy on terminal leave she was enrolled and taking classes at Fullerton College.

“When I came to Fullerton College two years ago, I was crippled by my gender dysphoria. But I found friends, educators and mentors who believed in me and supported me. I would never have believed how good life could be if you just set the fear aside, and work hard to make the most of your opportunities that are in front of you. This is true of any one, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, race, age or religion. I know it’s important for people to hear that. It gets better,” Alexander said.

Her semester began with a course load of 19 units, including honors courses. One of those classes was English 100 taught by the late Amanda Walzer.

“I came into class and Amanda was playing Hozier and asking us what we thought about it and if this was what we were listening to,” Alexander recalled with a slight tear in her eye but a smile on her face.

That English class is also where Alexander would meet her fiancé and love of her life Katelyn Hall.

According to Alexander the two were the more vocal of the class always chiming in discussions and both had a mutual respect although they didn’t really talk much outside of class.

“We said maybe two words to each other during the semester,” Hall said.

Also in her first semester Alexander joined A.S. but was hesitant of the group at first due to the lack of activity. Later she was convinced to come back and ended up heading the Planning and Research committee. What was know as a generally boring part of Associated Students was turned around by Alexander into one of the most active committees.

On the advice of many people close to Alexander, the decision was made to run for A.S. President. In the Spring of 2015, she won by a landslide.

With all of these wins under her belt Alexander would again start taking HRT that summer, which made her feel better about herself.

In the summer of 2015 Alexander would move out of the Ambassador Inn Apartments to a house in Brea where her standard of living would again increase due to her government benefits finally clearing approval.

In Spring of 2015 Alexander would again take a Walzer class, this time English 103, and her professor would convince her to join Fullerton College’s Literary Journal, LiveWire.

Again star crossed lovers would meet. Hall entered her life again at Walzers house for a planning meeting for the journal.

Hall would eventually need a place to live due to her living in Newport beach and commuting to Fullerton every day. After some consideration Alexander would invite her to rent a room from his land lord. That day Alexander told Hall her deepest darkest secret and Hall accepted it with no qualms or reservations.

The two became instant best friends, from then on the two were practically inseparable.

Dress up.jpg
Katelyn Hall and Sophia Alexander try one whigs while they bond as house mates in the Fall of 2015. Photo credit: Sophia Alexander

At the time Hall was in a relationship with another person and Alexander was reeling from a break up, but that didn’t stop the two from enjoying each others company.

“We fell into a very deep friend love, like I love you man,” According to Hall. “I remember one day that was really special. Our landlord had gone out of town and we were like ‘cool lets do a dress up day, I’ll do your makeup and stuff…and we put on wigs and you couldn’t tell who was trans and who wasn’t.”

Soon Hall would set Alexander up with a close friend of hers, but the match wasn’t made to be and when Alexander started realizing he had feelings for Hall she would talk to a close confidant for advice on the situation. Around this time Hall and her boyfriend had run into relationship problems and Alexander had come to grips with her feelings for Hall, even telling friends and confidants.

On an eight hour road trip back to Fullerton from an A.S convention Alexander would get the call from Hall that things with her boyfriend were over.

That night when Hall arrived home Alexander would tell her of her feelings and they laid there hand in hand. The next day Alexander would break it off with her current relationship.

Slow hands
Katelyn Hall and Sophia Alexander hold hands for the first time after months of hidden feelings on both of their parts. Photo credit: Sophia Alexander

The two eventually moved out of the house in Brea and would get a one bedroom loft apartment in Fullerton. As time went by the next few months the two would fall harder and harder for each other, eventually Hall would plan to propose to Alexander in San Fransisco at the Palace of Fine Arts, but Alexander would beat her to the punch.

Currently the pair is planning to move to the East Coast as Hall was accepted to Emerson College and Alexander would receive an interview form Harvard University to transfer on a full ride scholarship. While the official acceptance has not yet been received hopes are high after receiving strong words of encouragement from the interviewing officer.

In the most recent correspondence from Harvard, Alexander was told via email by her interviewer to “relax and be happy, you’re going to have a good life.”

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Comments (5)

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  • J

    Jack LamApr 29, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Beautifully penned piece about an amazing individual at Fullerton College. Thank you for coming out, and sharing this with us, Sophia! Also, congratulations on the engagement!

    Good luck to all your future endeavors, and know that you have an entire community that supports and loves you. Once a Hornet, Always a Hornet!

  • J

    James merriamApr 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Very few times in one’s life will you be privileged enough to witness a monumental step in someone else’s…..yesterday was one of those rare times I was so honored.

    My name is James Merriam and my family and I have known Sophia Alexander, (Thor Roe), for almost nineteen years when she became close friends with my son Brett when they met in the second grade.

    The unmasking of Sophia was not a shock to me yesterday, as maybe it was to some, I’ve known the transformation has been in process for quite a while and that, when ready, she would emerge.

    It is hard to describe the sense of pride I feel being a part of her life; watching as she has matured from a timid grade school student all the way through her service in the Navy and now full time college student and current student body President at Fullerton College in California, soon to graduate this May.

    This is a person who has never taken lightly or squandered any opportunity presented to her to move forward. She has the desire, passion and drive to succeed and accomplish great things, a capacity to listen intently and to act accordingly. She is a natural born leader, not by force or demand, she leads by example. It’s not something she has strived to be, it’s just who she is.

    Welcome Sophia! Know that the door to our house will always be open and love and support we offer you is without reserve.

  • C

    Charlene EgiziApr 28, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    You are both totally and completely AWESOME!!!! Who doesn’t love a great love story?

  • K

    Katelyn HallApr 28, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for publishing this incredible, important piece. You guys are awesome.

  • A

    ashley FroudApr 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    soooooo cute! congrats katelyn and sophia!!!<3