Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community

That time a TERF trolled the TransAdvocate & GLAAD
July 24, 2013
The TERF Empire Declares War Against Trans People
July 25, 2013

Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series on “stealth.” The goal of this series to examine the nuanced ways trans opinion leaders conceptualize stealth and how they feel about it. Suzan Cooke kicked off the series with her article, The Many Shades of Stealth. It should be noted that TA is not endorsing any one view, definition or conceptualization. As with the elephant parable, each perception presented in this series represents one representation of the truth; taken together, it’s hoped that this series will provide a more comprehensive conceptualization of stealth and what it means to an oppressed community.

Articles in this series: The Many Shades of Stealth | A Rant About MTF “Stealth” | Passing and Stealth: Two Words We Should Lose? | Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community | You’re Only as Transitioned and Stealth as the Next Person Says You Aren’t | Not Against Stealth But For Being Out

The topic of stealth vs. out blows up in our discussions in Trans World from time to time, and we’re currently engaged in another round of debate about it across the Transosphere in the discussions surrounding the jacked up firing from OUTServe-SLDN of Allyson Robinson.

My attitude about stealth is well documented throughout the history of this blog.   Being stealth DOESN’T help the trans community. It only helps those who are stealth.  Stealth transpeople can tell themselves that to salve their egos all day long, but the reality is only being out and proud of being trans has led to the major gains we’ve made in the public policy realm the last few years

Stealth trans people like to claim they are helping the trans rights movement by hiding in plain sight and cite the 6 alleged stealth transgender employees at HRC and GLAAD as an example of that. (They claim there are 4 at HRC and 2 at GLAAD)

Unfortunately, we have no way of positively verifying that because of the stealth conundrum. For us to positively know, those people would have to declare their trans status.  Stealth means that they aren’t revealing that trans status under any circumstances because their desire to maintain the pseudo cis privilege they currently have trumps being open and honest to the world about being trans.

How are they helping the trans community by NOT being out at these two large Gay, Inc orgs?  When push comes to shove, I submit they will be more concerned about hiding their trans status at all costs than being fierce advocates for our community inside those organizations.

If you’re not out at your job, and you’re not out to friends and others, how is the world going to associate the positive things you do with the trans community as well, who could use more goodwill ambassadors and positive role models?

Some stealth transpeople don’t help give back to the community much less want to even associate with other trans people, so it’s not a stereotype. Telling that inconvenient truth is not ‘demonizing stealth transpeople’ as I was accused of doing by one vanillacentric privileged stealth trans woman in a FB comment thread, it’s stating a harsh truth she didn’t want to deal with.

The trans narrative since Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane 60 years ago has been overwhelmingly focused on white transwomen along with the media attention.  So it’s no big deal for example, if a white transwoman chooses to go stealth.  Because as she disappears from Trans World you already have other white trans women who have been (and still are) role models, our trans stories are predominately told from your perspective all across the media spectrum and you are held up as the paragons of trans womanhood.

But that’s not the case for trans women of color.   We are only beginning in this decade to get the recognition that we exist thanks to Laverne Cox, Isis King, Janet Mock, KOKUMO, Bamby Salcedo, Arianna Inurrtegui Lint being out and proud about who they are that built on my generation of trans women opening those doors in the 90’s and us building on Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Gloria Allen’s and others work.

When I was growing up in the 70’s I didn’t realize until well into the early 2K’s when she talked about it that the smiling sistah I saw in a Clairol ad campaign and on five ESSENCE magazine covers was girl like us Tracy Africa Norman.   JET Beauty of the Week from August 1981, actress Ajita Wilson was a girl like us.  I didn’t know that the first person to go through the Johns Hopkins Gender Program was a Black trans woman named Avon Wilson.

If Janet Mock hadn’t come out two years ago, we would have never known the former editor of People.com was a girl like us and our community wouldn’t have the benefits of her story, her talents or her eloquent voice on our issues. You cannot fight for your human rights from a self imposed closet. It’s why the call to come out as trans people has been ongoing since the 90’s, and it’s no accident that when we stopped hiding, started calling out the anti-trans bigotry and started agitating for our rights the legislative victories and greater understanding of our community followed. 

Stealth has been detrimental to our community in general because it has seriously inhibited building community amongst girls and guys like us. It plays into that ‘deception’ meme we constantly fight, and has robbed us of our history, potential role models and mentors.

Stealth has had a particularly negative effect on transpeople of color because we haven’t had until recently positive trans role models who look like us.  African-American transwomen have also labored under the burden of being considered the trans ‘unwoman‘ vis a vis our white counterparts due to the lack of positive out role models.

Stealth unless it is done for security and safety reasons is an inherently selfish act.  It not only doesn’t help the trans community, it doesn’t help the stealth trans person either, especially when it is only done to hide from your trans history and chase pseudo cis privilege. It reinforces the messaging from our opponents there’s something ‘wrong’ about being trans.

And it’s spitting on the blood of all those transpeople who have died to be themselves.  It’s also disrespectful to the work of all the people like Christine Jorgensen, Sylvia Rivera, Phyllis Frye and countless others who took the early slings and arrows of publicity, hardship and discrimination to help advance the cause of trans human rights and knowledge of our community handicapped by the stealth issue.
And who said being out and proud about being trans and being considered a man or woman in cis society are irreconcilable?  I hear that excuse far too often to justify being in stealth status and that’s exactly what it is, an excuse.

We’re not saying you have to be an activist, wear a t-shirt announcing your trans status or introduce yourself as such to every person you meet, but you have an obligation to help advance the human rights of the trans community you belong to.

And for those who try to bring up the ‘gays and lesbians’ don’t out themselves excuse to justify their stealth status, Harvey Milk was advising gay and lesbian people to come out back in the 1970’s

Harvey Milk was right about the value of coming out then.  Phyllis Frye echoed the same message to the trans community in the early 90’s and we in the trans community should heed that message now. especially when the benefits of coming out will eventually break down the reasons we need to consider going stealth in the first place.

As Jessica Wicks said on my page, “My rationale is much simpler. I’ve nothing to hide. Why would I want to be keeping a secret a part of my life that was so important to me. Not only is being out helpful for the community, but it’s more honest I think. It’s all part of being true to self.”

The history of my African-American people has proven that when you are out and proud about who you are, you openly fight for your humanity and self determination, and you eliminate the negative societal conditions that cause you to want to hide from your heritage, then the perceived need for stealth will wither away.

Stealth doesn’t help the trans community, and we need all trans hands on deck so that we can do the societal work necessary to make it as obsolete as passing is in my African-American community.

21 Comments

  1. SuzanC says:

    Erm While I’m being being credited with “Starting the latest round…” I wrote the piece as an extension of Lynn Conway’s Huffington Post piece “Many Shades of Out”.

    It may escape the consciousness of full time activists but staying employed in a world where one can be fired for wearing the wrong color shirt or liking the wrong sports team tends to make being out an act of job kill.

    In a world where people get killed for looking wrong in the streets, get their property damaged by god fearing fundie crazies not being out is a matter of self defense.

    That said:

    I tend to agree with Matt Kailey, whose piece was posted here and which I also posted to my blog.

    I find the term stealth pejorative, just as I find the use of out to often be abusive.

    We are “out” by simply being ourselves and living our trans-lives. We all have different levels of personal privacy and the information we share with others.

    For example I may not share with the people I work with or the neighbors but I blog under my own name and sign my letters with my own name.

    In the various trans-communities there are way too many hiding behind aliases and sock puppets as part of trolling and poison spreading. This is bullying and no more a matter of privacy than the hoods of the KKK.

    By the same token having a life after transition that doesn’t include making trans-activism the main focus of one’s life doesn’t mean one is stealth. It simply means one has other interests in life.

    I was out and started transition before Stonewall, was actually one of those pioneers. I was involved in non-trans activism before I came out and I’ve been involved in various causes since.

    I’ve caught BS from both extremes in the community which leads me to think I must be doing something right. Particularly since I also get praised by a lot of people I like and respect.

    So I’m going to make a suggestion. It is time to bury words like passing, stealth and out when it comes to TS/TG people who have gotten past the first few years of transition. After four or five years people are just making their way through life in their sex/gender of personal comfort. They aren’t passing, they aren’t out, they aren’t stealth they just are being what Millie Brown called their “true selves.”

  2. Kunjana Eden says:

    Give it a rest already with this obsession with “stealth”! This is another absurd article on “stealth”. The fact is the number of trans people living “stealth” is a minority number. The fact is not every persons nature is the same. We are all individuals and we need to be treating each other accordingly without attacking people for their own personal choices.

    In fact I believe this series on “stealth” which has been nothing but attacking other trans people is causing harm to the trans community. My best friend and roommate who is cisgender female has read some of this and her first response was, “what is wrong with so many trans people, they are always complaining because cisgender people are always telling them how they should be living but trans people do the same thing within their own community”. I believe there are many other cisgender individuals who are seeing the same thing. Stop this nonsense already and allow people to live their lives as they see fit.

    As I have stated in other comments I don’t broadcast that I’m trans, for what purpose? I also don’t care if anyone knows I’m trans, why would I? I have also stated in other comments that I am a very solitary person and it has nothing to do with being trans. I have little contact with anyone including the trans community simply because that is who I am. I also know several people that I have known for a long time that do not know I’m trans and that is because they are just people I know not friends so my personal life is none of their business. If anyone has an issue with this it is your issue please seek help for yourself.

    The examples given that if this person would not have stood up, give me a fricken break! I am thankful for those who do have the desire to stand up and speak out and there always will be just not everyone. Not every single trans person has the capacity to be politically active or even speak in public its their fricken nature! Please make this the last attack on people who chose to live what you call “stealth” and let people live their own lives. So far all you have accomplished with this anti stealth garbage is show that you severally lack understanding of people in general including trans people.

    People have their reasons for living the way they do and you have no right to attack them for it. All you are doing is an attempt at making a guilt trip for others. My message for those trans people living “stealth” continue to do so, continue to live your life as you see fit it is your life you are the sole owner, you have my full support.

    • Sebastian says:

      I really appreciate this post. What you said is absolutely correct.

      I don’t understand why some trans people are so obsessed with attacking their own. We get nowhere with this ridiculous infighting. Can we please focus on attacking the bigots that are trying to take our rights away from us?

  3. elenorlee says:

    This is the most irresponsible, disappointing, outrageously lateral-aggression piece of tripe I’ve ever had the deep displeasure of reading on TA. Or TransGriot, for that matter.

    For many of us, stealth is a very needful strategy, utterly and completely rational in pursuit of survival. Random activists on their high horses do NOT get to decide when others disclose, how they disclose, and in what situations. They do NOT have that right.

    Furthermore, for the especially castigated classically transsexual people, trans status is often merely a medical issue utterly devoid of “pride”. We do NOT all relate to “trans” in the same way, nor identify with this so-called community in uncritically slap happy ways. That some of our “identities” are inconvenient for the pet theories of others is irrelevant. Stealth can not only be a strategic necessity. For some of us it is simply the right way to go about living, navigating a hostile world with trans history.

    People go stealth for all sorts of reasons, good and ill advised. Regardless, it is up to each of us to decide when to disclose trans status or history, as a matter of personal autonomy. Stealth may or may not help the theoretical community. Who cares? By violating the boundaries of those who determine it in their best interests to go stealth, you are EVISCERATING the trust needed to form any community. There is NO obligation to be out as trans. There is no mystical, automatic link between simply having some sort of transgender/transsexual aspect that we have jack all to do with some community. So the nebulous, fractious, and for many of us NONEXISTENT “community” isn’t owed a bloody thing. You don’t GET to make that act of identification for us. Period.

    Being stealth is not up for a bloody referendum, so get that through your smug, self-satisfied career activist heads. This campaign against people who choose not to disclose trans status is bullying, pure and simple. END THIS.

    • This comment really sums up my feelings about this article. I view being trans as simply a medical condition. I am a man first and foremost. My diagnosis of gender dysphoria is no more pertinent to my “identity” than my diagnosis of asthma.

    • Kara Harkins says:

      So if it is so great why stab others in the back? Why not be a role model to new trans people?

      • I can’t reply to your reply to me so I’ll do so here. I had never met ANY trans people before I started transitioning. Everything that I found out when beginning my transition I learned from talking to anonymous guys anonymously online. They are anonymous, because they are stealth in real life. So yeah, most of my information/support was from other guys that were stealth. I’ve learned barely any helpful things from the “out and proud” people. If anything, quite a bit of the medical information I learned was FALSE. You don’t need to be out to support other trans people.

        And BTW most stealth trans people DON’T call other trans people “he/she/it.” It is inane to believe such a thing.

    • Kevin Osborn says:

      “Being stealth is not up for a bloody referendum, so get that through your smug, self-satisfied career activist heads.”

      Yay! Thank you, someone had to say it (I mean the smug, self-satisfied career activist heads bit). As someone who is both trans, on a stipend this summer for Socialist Alternative, a die hard revolutionary socialist, and someone who pretty much see’s activism as the only form of liberation, thank god someone called out the egostistical side of the article.

      Just to clarify, activism is NOT sitting in front of a computer all day criticizing other people for shit you aint doing either, but yes it entails a heavy amount of reading and self education. If, however, you end up loosing all perspective and empathy, I take that as an indication of “armchair activism.” It’s a word that is used to describe activists who sit on their pomptous ass criticizing, commentating, and loosing all touch with the realities of the oppression they claim to be struggling against. While most certainly no trans person is ever free from the oppression, those of us who are fortunate to sometimes (or all the time) work/hold offices in left activist environments can far more easily get away with wearing any damn thing we want. However, if you actually loose touch enough to not feel the full and terrible pain and suffering of the oppression people face that you are supposedly working against, then you clearly are spending too much time communicating through a computer screen and not enough time working with real humans.

      Which is kind of a problem.

      Activists do have a duty to comment and citicize those who they affiliate/identify themselves with when they see fit, imho. But activism is not sitting behind a computer screen telling other people what they oughta shoulda done when you have no way of knowing their circumstances, its making inroads to your community, its showing solidarity to other causes that will benefit trans (such as creating better housing for all), its walking the streets being the biggest badass that you claim everyone else should be. Even if you think being “out and proud” is the best tactic (which for individuals who can make it work, I believe we have a duty *if and when we can* to be so), being a pomptous dumbass and lecturing and barrating other trans rather than inspiring with your own actions is absolute dumbassedness. An activists should always start with the premise of “how did I fail to create the mood that I think is necessary? Is the mood or actions I want people to do impractical for some or many? How can I make it practical? What is my next step? How does this fit a heathly short and long term strategy for everyone” not start with the premise of “fuckhead stealths keeping us oppressed ”

      On top of all this, TransGriot basic premise is fucked. The article all hinges on tokenism, and is expressed fullest in this sentence: “reality is only being out and proud of being trans has led to the major gains.” Showing the ignorance of history, the writer cites Harvey Milk, who undoubtedly greatly helped the LGBTQ communities/individuals/etc. But then takes it out of context, as it was developing a mass movement, not creating token idols in formal dresses and suits for young LGBTQ to look up to. First off, you expect any of us young trans to really think we’re going to have anything but hell ahead of us? You think that having a few corporate talking heads (who under your model are actually now former corporate figures who have now been devestated and destroyed due to their coming out) will suddenly make us feel better?

      Nah, that depresses me more, if anything. Why take up a doomed-to-fail token figure stragety when we can develop mass movements of trans and allies? So that we can feel empowered by seeing each other as clerks and other normal workers, as alike and different people oppressed and suffering, turning towards each other and our allies, changing the world together. I think this may be the vision the author has, but then the writer must be niave as fuck to think that this is built by writing shit, insensitive, blog posts as an “all hands on deck” call to arms (figurative call to arms). Its built by radicalizing support groups, by empowering each other in the meagerly few safe spaces we have to go out into the world together fighting, to fucking not take it anymore when the cops harrass us (Stonewall Inn, anyone?), to not take it when non-cops harass us, to fight for our jobs by helping to develop unions that can bring us the best protection (far better then some bullshit “anti-discrimination employment law” that practically still allows us to be discriminated against), to make the bigots uncomfortable and educate them if possible, to work in solidarity and alongside other movements of workers and poor…

      In short, its not built by armchair activists.

      My 2 cents.

  4. Kara Harkins says:

    One problem with ‘stealth’ is that people who do it stab other trans people in the back in order to remove suspicion they might be one of us. For example, a ‘stealth’ person once called me ‘he/she/it’ when talking about me to my boss. Frustrating because I would only have stooped to her level if I had outed her in return. Even some separatist feminists are known to be trans but they attack to allay suspicion by their peers. As you say it is selfish too: they benefited from other trans people early on and are doing so today when they benefit from the rights others fight for.

    • You act as though stealth trans people don’t do anything to support trans rights or that “trans community.” You don’t have to be “out” as trans to support trans rights. Let’s say I’m hanging out with my friends, and one guy decides he’s gonna start bashing on trans people. Just because I’m stealth doesn’t mean I can’t educate people and tell him that’s not cool to say.

      And honestly, I want nothing to do with a “community” that tells me I am wrong for viewing my transsexualism as a medical condition.

      • Kara Harkins says:

        How is calling me “he/she/it” supportive?

        BTW, just stopping someone from bashing some other group does not make you a hero. It just makes you a human and I would hope people would do that for ANY group. I am talking about being OUT so new transpeople see role models out there. Just as you got some sort of help yourself once.

    • Sebastian R says:

      You seem incredibly bitter because of the actions of one person and it’s quite obviously clouding your judgment.

      One person said that to you. While what they said to you was rude, they are by no means a representative of all stealth people. That’s like saying all gay people are transphobic because one gay person made a transphobic remark or that all tall people are mean because one tall person made fun of short people. Can you see how this is problematic? One person doing something bad does not mean that all people are bad.

      I don’t think you realize how much of a privilege it is to be able to be out. Where I am from, coming out as trans could very easily mean being assaulted or maybe even killed. It means being kicked out of your home and your job. And here, there is no way to contest it – it is perfectly legal to discriminate. Perhaps for you that is not a problem, but for me it would mean living a life of destitution. It’s a bit hard to make the pride marches and advocate parties when you’re living on the street. If I am supposedly benefiting from these rights that you superior out people are giving us, then I certainly don’t see it. I’m sorry that my existence is such a pain for you people.

      And honestly, I find it absurd because there were no out trans people to help me when I was suffering. When I was desperate and scared, when I wanted to die, I was all alone. I was the one who picked myself up and moved forward. I was the one who decided to transition and did all the legwork. The only thing that other trans people really helped me with was knowledge, and most of the resources I used were written by stealth people. When I did finally get help, the woman who aided me and who, out of anyone, helped me the most in my transition, was a cisgender woman. Her compassion, love, and knowledge of transition helped me so much and she didn’t need to be trans to do that. And beyond that, it was another cisgender woman who helped keep me stealth and allowed me to transition safely – if it wasn’t for her sympathy for my cause, things would have been so much more difficult for me. And even then, the woman who prescribes me hormones is cis and the people who fill out my order for hormones are also cis. So to say that the only real help a trans person has ever gotten has been from out trans people is really absurd to me – stealth people are not useless to the cause and neither are cisgender people.

      I suppose, to some extent, I’ve likely benefited from the work of individuals like Lou Sullivan and Jamison Green. But I’ve also benefited from the work of cisgender individuals like Harry Benjamin and Magnus Hirschfeld. Well, I suppose Hirschfeld wasn’t *quite* cis, but still. Even with that in mind, it certainly wasn’t these individuals who were there for me when I was on the brink of insanity.

      Throughout my time, I’ve actually given a lot of advice to other trans people as well. I’ve tried to help others who are going through a hard time and who need help coming to terms with being trans. I’ve given medical advice to those interested in transitioning. But I guess that’s not enough and I’ll be a traitor unless I have the word transgender branded on my forehead.

      • Kara Harkins says:

        Horrors! I only listed one example! Bad on me! I have had other encounters with “stealth” trans people and have yet to have a good one. I stick by the statement that “stealth” people will stab other trans people in the back to avoid even the possibility of being outed.

        As to privilege. Bullshit. Most of them were in the same geographical, professional, and socioeconomic status as I was.

    • Sebastian says:

      Well, you go ahead and believe that, Kara. If a handful of experiences with stealth trans people is enough to convince you that all stealth people the world over are all backstabbing traitors willing to torture an out individual…then you go on and believe that.

      You live your life the way you want. If you are able to live out and proud, then good for you. I’ll continue to live my life in a way that doesn’t make me become homeless and jobless. If that means losing brownie points with out and proud trans people, then so be it – I value my life more than that.

  5. SobriKate says:

    Stealth is being thrown around without any context, and I’m either misinterpreting the intent of the aspersion, or it is simply too vague.

    At any point in the transition, a transgender person may opt to be stealth in public and out to those they are closest to and trust the most. Even then, transpeople can be let down by their closest friends and family members who they wanted to have support them. Asking someone to be mentally prepared and ready for rejection from close ties is hard, but expecting them to deal with the public rejection filled with strangers and acquaintances is silly. That being said, every TS/TG person should have a support group to help them cope with the garbage they are going to have to endure for simply being themselves. Logically, this support group would have to be privy to the knowledge that they are TS/TG to be beneficial. Whether it consists of close friends, or fellow transpeople doesn’t really matter because it serves to benefit the members of the group.

    Many detractors I have come across have detracted transitioning in stealth as either cowardice or lack of commitment. There are many exigent circumstances that prevent some people from feeling comfortable immediately dressing in their chosen gender’s clothing. Safety is an easy fallback argument, but a stealth transperson could be gainfully employed or supported by bigoted family members / employers. Eventually during transition, if the person still wants to remain stealth they have to go to a great deal of effort to do so even if they are able to pass when they begin RLE.

    Post-transition in stealth can have many benefits if the transperson manages to pass as cisgendered. Being outed as trans might cause problems for people they care about, and in some cases their family, friends, and loved ones could suffer because of indirect transphobia. A transperson wanting to start a family with someone by adoption, surrogacy, frozen embryo/sperm in vitro fertilization, might not want to also risk virulent gender politics spilling over into their family discourse. At least allow their children to become mature enough to fend for themselves before demanding their parents to sacrifice themselves on the altar of politics and advocacy.

    I don’t think it’s selfish to not want to deal with social agendas, political awareness, and combat transphobia. Isn’t it also unfair to demand that a transperson forever dwell on the circumstances of their birth once they are passing and integrated into society? When would they be allowed to put down the torch and try to find some normalcy?

    Admittedly, I’m also throwing stones in glass houses. As I am posting behind the veil of anonymity, my decanted arguments may not reach your Ivory Tower. I use a sobriquet for privacy, and I have been transitioning in stealth for many reasons that have nothing to do with selfishness. My circumstances preclude me from living as I would prefer, but life isn’t nor has it ever been fair.

    In my opinion it is selfish to censure transpeople who are actively working to improve the LGBT community who are not ‘out.’ They are already working to help trans-issues and will probably be more effective working together with any transphobics among the LGBT community if they remain stealth. Whether or not there are stealth transpeople in GLAAD or the HRC, they should live their lives as they see fit.

    I can understand the exasperation that you feel toward our community’s relative quiescence. I’ve read several annual statistical reports and their analysis about our community / distribution and discrimination / violence toward us. I can’t decide if these reports make me more terrified, angry or sad. Castigation isn’t helpful for our cause or self-esteem as a community. Brow beating is one of the least effective methods of altering opinions and moving hearts and minds. Even dog trainers tend to use pattern recognition and positive reinforcement since it is more effective compared to negative reinforcement techniques. And humans tend to be slightly more complicated and harder to please or convince than the domesticated dog.

    When you essentially insult every stealth transperson, you encourage a reflexively oppositional and defiant attitude toward your point. Conversely, by instilling confidence and self-acceptance, you can urge transpeople to express themselves in positive ways in the community and to embrace the qualities that make us unique. Mentors and role models are needed, but a cooperative group ethic is necessary as a firm sediment in order to build a successful movement for any progress for transrights to take hold. Becoming divisive holds us back, no matter how good your intent.

    I believe in advocating human rights and protecting our right to be who we are. If there were any transpeople that were in the position to help advance transrights and human rights, of course I hope they would. However they have to judge for themselves what they are willing to risk their anonymity for, and how much public scrutiny they are willing to face. I hope that while even the LGBT community can be fractal and have discrimination, that we can stick together. We should stop judging people because they don’t live up to unwarranted expectations since we are all in this together; living separate lives with different situations and contexts.

    How about we have one less group discriminating against us, and express some Transolidarity

    • Kara Harkins says:

      If you want to express transsolidarity that includes people just starting out. I am going to guess you did not do transition all by yourself with NO help or inspirational figures whatsoever. Or even now benefitting from what other people have fought for. I am sure stealth people would LOVE to have ENDA in place if they get fired from their jobs.

  6. Pigeonesque says:

    Out of curiousity, is everyone picturing the same thing when they hear ‘stealth’? I’ve heard descriptions such as ‘burning all old pictures, cutting all former social ties including family, changing careers, and throwing others under the bus to throw off suspicion’, but I’ve also heard descriptions like ‘not bringing it up if it’s not necessary’.

    I hope it goes without saying I don’t support bad-mouthing or insulting others to better blend in. Unless it’s actually a matter of life and death, resorting to that just reeks of middle school drama.

    That said, I’m not even sure if my state of being could be described as ‘stealth’. I have no idea who does or doesn’t know about me. I’ll attend and participate in discussions on the topic when my university’s LGBT center holds them, but I almost never use myself as a concrete example. I don’t bring it up, but I don’t deny it if it is brought up for some reason, and I would never even consider throwing another under the bus to deflect attention from myself. If I were to have to miss a lecture for surgery, I’d probably not specify what kind of surgery unless asked, and probably give a vague answer at that (‘chest’), but I wouldn’t go and say I have a family reunion or something.

    By this article’s standards, I seem to be a terrible person, but I have trouble believing that. Like notanothertransman, given the opportunity, I would instantly and without question call someone out over transphobic crap, be they targeting said crap towards a specific individual or be it general crap. However, I have some pretty badass cis friends who do an excellent job of dispelling crap, so I don’t believe outing one’s self then and there is the only way to do good.

    Maybe I’m just lazy or selfish, I don’t know. I hope not, but I don’t have it in me to be a Designated Trans* Person 24/7. I have nothing but admiration for those who are willing and able to be so, but I freely admit that sometimes, it’s nice to just be another person heading out for the evening with friends. Thinking about and being confronted with my body heavily depresses me to the point of non-functionality (as it does for many in my boat). Simply put, though I don’t live somewhere likely to kill me over being trans, I fear my mind would snap if I always had to be “trans me” instead of just “me”.

    • Kara Harkins says:

      That is also pretty much the sense that the articles in this series seem to be taking and myself as well. The concept of stealth is not the same as privacy. I have no issue with not saying you are trans to every person you meet, especially not right away. Well, I do routinely out myself to people I know (or strongly suspect) are trans but often it is something people outside the community would not pick up on, like names of local doctors and such.

      The problem is stealth people like to confuse the issue. I am guessing to try and get people to back them? If you can be out and proud, great. If not, not. Just do not maintain your cover by attacking those of us who are out, especially if you gain by our actions (like if we do activism).

      Personally I would say any trans person has a duty to help the next batch of trans people since they were helped themselves at some point. Whether that was direct help or their path was less difficult because of prior people. The best way to do that is by being out (you do not have to scream it from the rooftops, just do not deny it if asked). The more obvious to other trans people the better. Helping one-on-one is more than nothing at all, but there you are choosing who to help and telling newbies it is something to be hidden.

  7. […] Stealth | A Rant About MTF “Stealth” | Passing and Stealth: Two Words We Should Lose? | Stealth Doesn’t Help The Trans Community | You’re Only as Transitioned and Stealth as the Next Person Says You Aren’t | Not Against […]

  8. Caleb Nelon says:

    I spent my first 7 years as a female. 7 years of unreliable memory that doesn’t play a role in who I am today. Is that 7 years enough of a reason to broadcast my trans experience? No.

    I see a Dr once a year for hormones. Does the occasional ingrown hair contribute enough to my life experiences that I should tell the general public? No.

    I’ve never participated in the GLBTQ “community”. Medical transition isn’t an automatic enrollment in some acronym for different sexual orientations. I’m not proud to be a transsexual, but that doesn’t automatically mean I’m ashamed of it. I handle it the same way as any other medical issue I run into. It just is and I made the choice a long time ago to reject any suffering from it. My medical treatment and my life are my own, so how can it be generalized and lumped in with so many people I do not know? Since when is it my job to publicly align myself with a “community” that can’t even consistently represent itself? Transition is merely a coincidence. I’m not your friend, not your brother. I don’t know you or owe you a damn thing.

    I choose to remain “stealth” in my daily life and I don’t care how you handle your business. I live my life in a way that fulfills me and gives me a sense of normalcy. To demand anything else of me would be a burden I’m not obligated to deal with. Most problems could be solved if people would stop trying to force their ideas on how life should be pursued onto others.

    My life is not about you or your agenda.

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