7 Examples: Hiding T Sexuality Hurts

Living Free: Jenna Ware, MSW, LCSW, ATP/CFI, flying over Kansas.


How can anyone complain about transphobia or murders of trans people—while they also refuse to share openly who we are and what we’re about, to sell what we really are? The trans person sexuality Culture of Silence can cause discrimination and get people killed. Trans leaders are setting a harmful standard for trans person sexual secrecy—to avoid it, play it down, paint a rosy picture of what it’s like being trans, or even outright tell people not to ask.

If you’re out there selling books and movies, talking with audiences, you need to stop marginalizing us. We need leaders to sell the truth of our sexualities, not hide it as if it’s shameful.

“It’s private!” is the cry—but that is misdirection. It isn’t modesty; it’s fear of rejection. I agree it doesn’t matter in part of society, if a doctor, lawyer, neighbor, friend is secretly male or female. But saying physical sex doesn’t matter in other areas is denial, such as finding love, sex, putting down related roots in a new life, sports, swimming, having children, some legal issues, medicine, research… All of those are also part of living in society. And phenomenologically these issues are critical. Personally they can mean life or death to people like me.

Pretending normalization can occur while it’s kept secret is denial, a child’s wish, a fantasy. In areas like this, life doesn’t work that way.

As Kenji Yoshino tells us in Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2007), to integrate into society, to normalize, we must stop covering up for ourselves. If trans leaders tell the public, reporters, researchers, not to ask about genitalia (such as Caitlyn Jenner did with Diane Sawyer on 4/21/17, 20/20, ABC News), if they don’t sell the true issue of trans sexuality, itself, as proper, as okay, if we hide our genitalia, our sexual response, say it shouldn’t be known, whatever it is, we

1. create our own unequal employment opportunities. If we don’t say it, we can’t show it, so we may refuse employment where it may become known logistically, through, medicine, reproduction, costuming, or where locker rooms are involved such as sports, police, the fire department, military… Some will involve, anyway, but most won’t. With the laudable public T cry for equality, this is self-discrimination, self-oppression, self-inhibition of integration.

2. enable gossip, denial. After we become “ourselves”—we’re still and always human—we need love. But do we think the first lover we find will be the One that lasts forever? Most relationships break up, trans people have a harder time finding love than most, and ex-loves tend to talk, usually to others, not to the T herself. This is very common; good secrets are rarely kept. In addition, some people will perceive our sexual response or genitalia on their own. How can a person put down roots in her new life that way? With herself? How can she feel connected and valued? And where will she find love—live in this county and date in another? And what if love is found? Marry then move? Such things are part of the “secret agent stuff” of stealth living that drives us away from reality into our own false belief denial works.

3. may enable hate crimes against ourselves. From prior discriminations, I wrongly refused to let my transsexuality be an issue in social interactions; I’m a poster child for mistakes in this area. And “surprise violence” has happened with others: assault, battery, surprise violence/rape/murder where someone is surprised by what he finds during sex, like unto Jennifer Laude or Dee Whigham and countless others. The idea of what trans people really are has to reach the level of “okay” in society, and that does not come with obfuscation or subterfuge. Why do people not hear that? We need dialogue.

4. can’t stand up for ourselves when shit happens because we can’t address something we hide, can’t say what it really was, and when hate crimes occur, we may feel we can’t even go to the police. A lot goes unreported, so there disappears help we could have received, research, statistics on what we’re facing in the world. New transitioners can’t even know what they’re getting into thanks to hidden crimes/discriminations and money-focused leaders who hide things. We lay a whole lot of shit on other people because we don’t want to own our sexuality, and we don’t want others to own theirs, either, as it raises the question of ours.

5. begin to seem eccentric. Dealing with issues we don’t share—think sexual assault for example—others don’t know why we avoid that person, that group, or seem fearful—and false or partial explanations make it worse because people think we’re crazy or they’re being gamed. This creates distance from others in our lives, loneliness, alienation. We can’t smile through decades of that; it eventually weighs on weary shoulders.

6. can’t unlearn we’re not okay. Most of us learn growing up we’re not okay as trans. We fear rejection so we agree to hide aspects of ourselves to please prejudiced people, of all things. In the act of hiding, we dump on ourselves, agree there’s something wrong with us or that we’re not equal or good enough—which adds more long-term weight to carry. We may even be unable to receive the support of someone who is accepting, who might tell us to our face that we’re okay as we really are—because we won’t let the topic be discussed. What are we saying to ourselves if we feel we must hide our genital state or our most basic sexuality as a male or female? When reality dawns, that can be crushing.

7. and then we wake up years later to realize we never allowed ourselves to live our own life, to be ourselves, after all, that out of fear we lived, instead, a reflection of someone else’s desire, pretended our sexuality—then we realize we can never recover those years. That large hunk of life is forever gone.

Downplaying who and/or what we are, playing down our sexuality, obfuscating what we really need as human beings, subterfuge—pretending we’re something we’re not—can result in self-discrimination, reduced employment opportunities, gossip, hate crimes against ourselves, failing to report or seek help from authorities, enable eccentricity, and we can spiral down into alienation, loneliness, depression, and even suicidality.

It’s true that not all will, but it’s also true that some will.

The transgender paradigm is on the wrong track. The culture of silence on trans person sexualities must evolve. We must stop covering for what we are and stand up for it.

I ask reporters and leaders of trans phenomena, of trans social issues—of whatever perspective at all—to stop playing down trans person sexuality, genitalia, sexual response as male or female, to help sell, instead, the idea that we’re okay as we actually are, that there’s no reason to hide, that we can be as natural to ourselves and fully integrate as much as anyone else.