Stealth is a Perjorative Term (But I sometimes use it myself)

Those of us who came out in the 1960s and 70s have a different point of view regarding much of today’s thinking regarding people with transsexualism and their place in the scheme of things than do the transgender activists.

We didn’t view our transsexualism as something that made us transsexuals our whole lives and we definitely saw SRS as a dividing line between being women and being queens/transgenders.

Passing was something one did before SRS.  It meant you had something to hide.

I don’t recall there even being a term like stealth for post-SRS women in the 1970s.  We were female after surgery and just assimilated into the world of women.  Some of us married men, some of us became hard core lesbian feminists.

One of Janice Raymonds bad raps regarding WBTs in the women’s movement and lesbian feminist movement had very McCarthesque overtones that put forth the proposition that as women we were so much like other women as to blend in with other women in the movement.  A red under every bed/ A WBT in every feminist collective.

I happened to be really open about my history because I was so indistinguishable and because I had years of immaculate Left as well as LGBT/T credentials many movement women knew my history.  I had a certain continuity.

I also helped run the San Francisco National Transsexual Counseling Unit with funding from the Reed Erickson Foundation.  Reed was a T to M MBT from Baton Rouge who funded many of the early transsexual peer to peer groups.

Like most transsexual groups of the time our purpose was to help each other get our sex change operations. The expectation that was pretty implicit in our mission was that after SRS we were women or men as the case maybe and that we would leave the ghetto behind.

In those days there were physical places (Ghettos) where one could be an obvious drag queen or otherwise in between the sexes and not be harassed by the police.

I never lived in one.  I found the ghetto a scary place both physically and spiritually.

Transgender activists want us to stay in those ghettos and feel our just being the ordinary women and men we can be (but are not forced to be) after our sex reassignment surgery is some how an act of treason.  I have never understood how I could betray something I was never a part of but that is another article.

They use the term stealth as a pejorative term for our simply getting on with our lives, the presumption being that if we do not wear a t-shirt proclaiming our past then we are somehow hiding something.

This denies us the right to having personally determined complex lives within the ordinary society of men and women.  Therefore calling our assimilation “stealth” has a textual reading that makes our assimilation seem both dishonest and a betrayal of this activist generated social construct call the “Transgender Community”.

4 Responses to “Stealth is a Perjorative Term (But I sometimes use it myself)”

  1. Zoe Brain Says:

    The problem is that by writing in this blog, you “out” yourself as a woman with an unusual medical past. You become one of those “Activists” to some degree.

    In an ideal world, I would be utterly unremarkable. As unremarkable as a woman who had had to wear orthodontic braces, or get some other medical anomaly fixed. I have an aversion to publicity, I just want to live. Any fame I do have, I want it to be from achievements, professional awards fairly won. In an ideal world, I’d help researchers, just as those with rare blood types do, and with just as little fanfare.

    I can’t just live though. The government won’t let me. In order to get something as common as a passport, I had to fight a 20 month legal battle.

    The real problem is though that so many have it worse. How can I *not* help? And how can I retain my privacy when I *do* help?

    Like you, I try to retain some balance. Stealth was never an option for me due to the circumstances of my unusual transition, but I don’t seek publicity. I don’t attempt to hide either, and have been called an Activist for that.

    I think everyone has to find their own way. Some more active than others. I consider myself intersexed, formerly transsexual, not Queer or Transgendered or a Rebel against Social Mores. But what I consider myself as is irrelevant, I get no say in it.

  2. catkisser Says:

    I’ve often commented, in answer to the TG protestations that stealth is impossible that often what stealth means to a woman of trans/intersexed history is simply avoidance of TGs. I was too vocal and too out to be actually stealth today, but in my day to day life I am exactly that anyway.

    Suzan, you and I butted heads in several venues years ago. You were absolutely right and I was wrong then (felt I owed you that 🙂 ) But where does the demands of the obligations to be “out” actually spring from? In a word, TG entitlement. Ever say “thanks” a bit to softly and have some older guy who just held a door for you get testy? Ever see the flicker of resentment or even hatred in the eyes of some man you corrected on a point within your own expertise? This is the same thing. The supreme irony is when TGs treat WBT the worst, it actually is stemming from the fact they do indeed see us as women.

    The entire idea that one “owes” others for having been born with a neurological birth condition is ludicrous when you think about it.

  3. Evangelina Carters Says:

    Zoe, I say this in the nicest possible way even though I am being direct and blunt. You had a choice in wether your medical history is currently known or not; you may not have wished to pay the price for the closure of your narrative. However you did have the choice, there are always options however “expensive” they may be and I am not talking in finacial terms.

  4. Zoe Brain Says:

    Evangelina – I have had some interesting security clearances in the past. People who have worked on military systems may be allowed to disappear. Those who have worked on diplomatic communications systems, or platforms for Israel’s nuclear deterrent, never.

    I could never have cut off communication with my son too. The career, yes, that was disposable. Family support too. But not my child. The price as you said was too high. The thing is, it wasn’t an option anyway.


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