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July 25, 2013
July 26, 2013

You’re Only as Transitioned and Stealth as the Next Person Says You Aren’t

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

Jillian Page in the Montreal Gazette:

“Where is it written that someone who has transitioned MUST help the (transgender) community?” asks reader Karyn Maynard in response to someone else on the comments board of a GLAAD post about Dawn Ennis.

Karyn makes a good point, and the fact of the matter is, most people who transition move on from trans issues. They don’t actually see themselves as transgender people, even if they embraced the cause of “transgenderism” at some point in their journey. But they don’t live between the gender binary as so many transgender people happily do: the transitioned MtF person IS a female, and the FtM person IS a male.

That’s true.  I’m female.

So is the person who Page held up as an example as someone not wanting to be a human torch:

The media use the word [transgender] gratuitously because it draws readers. Make no mistake about it. The “transgender” word and its variations are hot these days. To many readers, it is almost exotic and erotic; it’s sexy. That’s why headlines about Jenna Talackova, for example, are always preceded by the word “transgender,” even if her courageous battle to compete with born-women in the Miss Canada pageant was all about her bid to be recognized as just one of the girls, with no asterisk beside her female designation.

The problem is that she negated the entire premise of that paragraph and her entire column with this paragraph, which preceded it:

When the media does it, they are essentially qualifying the womanhood or manhood of transitioned individuals, saying basically that they are something less than women or men. The “transgender” word is essentially an asterisk . But I can tell you that there is no asterisk beside the “female” designation on my birth certificate, driver’s licence, medicare card etc.

Uh huh…

There is no asterisk until someone – someone with the power to make their opinion stick – says there is.

And then you need a torch-bearer to vindicate the non-asterisk portions of your identity papers.

Maybe Tacklova went to the non-trans Gloria Allred to light a torch under Donald Trump’s ass simply because Allred is a good, albeit obnoxious, attorney (one who, I’m sure, has no more use for Donald Trump than Rosie O’Donnell does.)

But maybe Tacklova went to the non-trans Gloria Allred only because certain people and organizations who claim to speak for women like Tacklova – and Page and myself – have ensured that even within organizations who claim to speak for women like Tacklova – and Page and myself – that asterisk is substantive, hardwired and an absolute bar to women like Tacklova – and Page and myself – ever being considered as an equal to those within those organizations who are not like Tacklova – and Page and myself, thereby ensuring that Tacklova never sees anyone like herself when looking toward those organizations when needing to force someone like Trump to educate himself sufficiently so as perform the legal  task of recognizing her womanhood for purposes of his Miss Universe pageant.

  • Well, I started transition in 1982. If I ain’t done now, then what you’re saying is that I’ve spent most of my life transitioning. Am I to believe that what I’m ultimately transitioning into is a corpse? 😛

    • That is a function of biology, from dust to dust, ashes to ashes… We are all just carbon atoms along with a $1.00 worth of other elements… All I am saying is that your definition of transition is yours, and I respect that 100%. I cannot see how anyone can separate the transition of gender from the life path, or in other words transition…

      • Yes, there are so many aspects to how I have gone through changes over time that it is hard to distinguish them from gender transition. For example, if a non-gender-identity change was spurred by someone you only knew because you were both in the trans community is it truly independent of gender transition? All of the various changes make me me and there are interconnections everywhere.

  • Exactly Kat, not everyone needs to be an activist or hang out at GLBT centers. However, whether they realize it or not, ‘stealth’ transpeople benefited from other trans people both early on and even now (who else fights for bills in congress that help them). I would say they have a *duty* to give back to other trans people when they have taken for so long.

  • Your level of transition is determined by you, and you alone, no one has any right to determine your level of transition.

    Lets define the word transition. What does this mean? When is a transition concerned closed, over, finished? As I see it, being trans* I am in transition, from male to female, and this only has a fixed end point, that is the moment of my death.

    Life has a fixed start and end, birth and death. This is not in dispute, medical science cannot change this. We are all subject to the 2 fixed constants of birth and death.

    We are always in transition, from babyhood, through toddlerhood, childhood, school, college, careers, retirement ending in death at some point. Some go through the stages quicker than others, other live to be 100 years old, in the end, we all succumb to death.

    Life is about phases, or transitions, being trans* is just an extra step, I am learning every day about being less male, and more female, this does not stop until my life clock hits the big 00:00:00:00:00 and Death fetches me…

    So when will I be female? Not after surgery, if that happens, yay, if not, oh well.. Not a huge deal, dying with a penis instead of a vag, not a huge concern, it is not a massive part of my transition from adult male to adult female.

    The media has no right to determine my transition success or failure, that is alone up to me, the same as the media has no right to determine if my failure at college was a failure, only I have the right and power to judge that. The media is useless and serves no useful function in my transition. I place no value on a single letter publish by any media outlet, print or electronic.

    Being that I am a British Subject, under the control of the Home Office, where my birth records are kept, I had no problem amending my passport from male to female, if this was good enough to give me a visa to Fortress USA, then it is damnwell good enough for me. I cannot change my life history, I am very proud of the path I have trodden. No one anywhere has any power over my thoughts, self belief, and convictions.

    I may be seen as proud, even obsessive, maybe a tad doff, a south african word meaning soft in the head!! I am not, crappy things have happened, yet I successfully managed to dodge the land-mines, yes I am still living, that is still transitioning.

    My transition is not going as I planned, what can I do? Yes I moan about the direction, any becalmed sailor in the wind free zone of the equator will do the same, until the wind changes, and moves them on, I am at this point you might say in a double transition, from male to female, and from the US to south africa…What is going to happen, like life, one hour at a time, I have learned to not have totally fixed final plans…That is the lesson I learned from my transition, expect the unexpected…

    Will I be a spokesperson for the trans* community? I would love to, I have loads to say, and the passion in my belly, I lack 1 thing, the knowledge to connect, maybe it is the ASPIE/ASD/BPD/BiPolar, who knows… I know that I can debate this with the best of them…

    • Yes, I always gnash my teeth when someone says they have ‘completed’ transition … it ranks up there with ‘I transitioned on such-and-such-a-date’ in my book. I may have had SRS and all but I have no doubt that the me in a few years will be not be the same as the me now. Just as I was not the same as a few years ago. My self-identity and such are constantly being refined.