You know, I was once told that I’d probably want to be stealth at some point in my transition because.. well.. it’s too dangerous and can ensure you lose your job, friends and family. Thus far, it hasn’t happened (although, I haven’t fully come out at work — that will come soon I suspect). If anything, people have been supportive and have been understanding. I’m sure some might be thinking that my time thus far in the US has clouded my vision or brainwashed me into doing this. That isn’t the case. It was more a case of something else. Not quite ignorance was bliss but rather misery. Choosing this path isn’t easy nor cheap but it is making me happy so that’s good.
It’s hard to fathom when companies and government organizations deny transgender individuals positions or fire them after learning about their transgender status (like Diane Schroer or Susan Stanton or Julia Yoo). With these kinds of stories, it’s not surprising how many transgendered individuals go stealth and why. Most, as far as I know, want nothing more than to have a family, be part of the community, make a difference and work for a living (unless a lottery win comes in). There is nothing different about these people other than they have taken the opportunity to present their true selves to the world. They are still able to do the job that they have done or want to do much like they have would otherwise.
But perhaps what holds us back is the fact that we have gone stealth and because of that, have made the idea of transgenderism to be a taboo thought rather than part of life. Society is being built on FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt. People want re-assurances that life is ok and that life is good. Unfortunately, the media feeds heavily into their fear of the unknown and they assume that anything unknown must therefore be bad. So let’s address some of the myths:
1. All transgendered individuals, particularly MTFs, are pedophiles. *BUZZ* wrong. Most pedophiles are male and only 3% of all attackers are strangers. The rest of known. MTFs are WOMEN. PERIOD. (Facts obtained from here). Transgendered individuals are not “sick” or “sex crazed” or whatever misconception the media puts forth. Many are trying to ensure that how they view themselves is seen by the rest of the world. It’s interesting that when someone, particularly white, upper class, celebrity type, gets surgery done to alter one body part or another it’s considered a great thing. Quite often this is done for nothing more than money and media attention. A transgendered person is doing it for their well-being.
2. How will I deal with washroom issues? Uh.. not YOUR problem. Similar to point 1 (and again, it seems to be mostly MTFs that have to deal with this kind of hatred), it’s fear being used. Just like you a transgendered person sometimes just has to GO, ya know? This problem would be solved if there was more unisex or non-gendered washrooms available. I mean, at your house, do you separate out male and female washrooms? It won’t be the cisgendered person that will face an attack but the transgendered person because he or she is different. Because the media has again built up a fear for women about things different society freaks out at this particular issue.
3. You’re different now! Not quite. While the physical appearance has and is changing, the core of the person is still there. What made them funny, great, intelligent, loving, etc. is all still there. What will change is how YOU react to the transgendered individual as they become their gender. The challenge with this is that we do have preconceived notions as to what is male and female (and even moreso when we include things like religion, culture, race, etc.). If we could let go of those just a little bit it may not be as bad.
4. Ewww! Why would you do that and become a freak? I do believe that many of my MTF sisters are getting hit harder with the hatred and discrimination than my FTM brothers and there is a reason that was suggested to me a while ago that does make sense. Women are viewed as “weaker” and “less desirable” in the societal sense. So the question becomes “why would someone want to become a woman” and lose privilege. It’s understandable for an FTM because they will gain privilege (but only if white — if black or other POC they will lose privilege and likely be targeted more). This isn’t about becoming a freak but rather becoming whole and human.
So that all said, perhaps it’s time we stopped being quiet and let people know. It is a hard enough challenge to transition but perhaps we have to take on just one more challenge and get society to change with us. Until we show people all of who we are — and that there is far more to us than a pretty or handsome face — society will continue to believe the FUD that comes with being transgendered. I, for one, won’t be silent. To help me through the worst I remind myself of a quote from The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D.:
Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.* It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
[*The first of the ‘Four Noble Truths’ which Buddha taught was ‘Life is suffering.’]
Maybe it isn’t that hard after all, eh?