Some trans people may choose to opt out of disclosure or a more thorough integration in society, but if real trans natures are downplayed by society in general, others may not feel they can opt in. Trans people seek sexual “privacy” out of fear of rejection; yet when society agrees to downplay our sexualities—say they shouldn’t be mentioned—that has the effect of preventing full inclusion.
If trans leaders and educational institutions do not make the nature of trans people socially acceptable and welcomed—not just being transgender or transsexual but also such as the specific transgender desire to change gender but not sex—
1. We create our own unequal employment opportunities. If we don’t say it, we can’t show it, so we may refuse employment where it could become known—such as where locker rooms are involved as in sports, police, the fire department, military, or with costuming or uniforms, or other logistics… With the laudable public T cry for equality, this is self-discrimination, self-oppression, self-inhibition of integration. Institutions and corporations who know we will respond with this distance, and who cooperate with downplaying trans person sexuality—claiming we ask for privacy on an individual basis—are colluding with a social denial that results in only partial integration, inequality.
2. We 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? 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, to be discovered again? I believe we cannot ask society for a binary acceptance when we intend to be non-binary, ask people to play along with what we hide. Such things are part of the “secret agent stuff” of stealth living, which is self-defeating in the end, because the truth of trans tends to become known.
3. We may enable hate crimes against ourselves. From the view of someone into hate and violence, people who are hiding something are easier prey. And “surprise violence” has happened with others: assault, battery, rape, or 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.
4. We 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. I, too, have failed to go to the police when attacked, fearing revelation or bigotry. I wrongly refused to let my transsexuality be an issue in social interactions; I’m a poster child for mistakes in this area. A lot goes unreported, so there goes 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 money-focused leaders who hide these things, pander to propaganda to sell books and movies.
5. We begin to seem eccentric. Think decades into what is hopefully a long future: Dealing with issues we don’t share—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. We 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 are dumping on ourselves, agreeing we shouldn’t be known or that our sexual truth is wrong to mention—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.
Life is hard enough for us trans people. Stealth mode living—either in general about being trans or in hiding the real nature of our sexuality—makes it even harder. As law professor Kenji Yoshino says, we become the hidden assault on our own civil rights.
Doing this to ourselves, cooperating with people who don’t want us, we can spiral down into alienation, loneliness, depression, and even suicidality.
I ask reporters and leaders of trans phenomena 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 natural to ourselves and fully integrate as much as anyone else.