Living in Stealth


Scylla and Charybdis

I never wanted it. I certainly never planned it. But I moved to this apartment complex a month and a half ago and I simply was not going to be the first to bring up the fact that I’m trans. Somebody will read me and gossip will spread and I’ll deal, with boldness and a smile on my face — that’s what I thought would happen. But it hasn’t so far. A month and a half isn’t long, I admit, but I did not have the confidence in my own femininity to believe that living in stealth — meaning here that my neighbors think I’m a cis woman — for any length of time was even possible.

I’m conflicted about stealth. I was all about how visibility is a good thing for trans people, and I was going to be a poster child as it were. My thoughts on the matter run a little like this—

Am I living a lie? No, because I am a woman. Being a trans woman does not change that. And what my neighbors think of me is their business.

But trans women are different from cis women… Yes. Yes we are. But the fact I’m trans is none of anybody’s business.

What about the conversational acrobatics that living in stealth entails? *sigh* Yes, there’s that. Letting my neighbors go on about me being my children’s biological mother, or about my husband, and me just smiling and nodding and and saying as little as possible but still saying a little … that’s deceit. But I will not be the first to bring up my being trans. Psychologists say that we all tell about seventeen lies a day. If I implicitly tell nineteen, so be it.

So I am living a lie, or rather some little white lies… I suppose I am. Little white lies and conversational simplifications are a fact of life for everyone.

How does this make me feel? Bad, because I don’t like even little white lies. Good, because I enjoy being a woman and being perceived as a woman. I did say I was conflicted.

Should I come out to my closest neighbors? There is no question of should here. I’m under no obligation to tell anybody squat about my being trans. Once again it’s none of anybody’s business. I’m free to share the fact how, when, and where I choose (like here).

Why am I so set on not being the first to bring up the fact I’m trans? Because I’d feel like a pedophile going door to door by law and disclosing some wrongness about myself. There is however nothing wrong with me.

Am I sure I’m not just a coward? I’ve come out to a lot of people face to face. I could do it now, and I choose not to.

Does living in stealth put me in greater danger? Because stealth probably isn’t going to last forever… Being a trans woman is to be in danger already. Greater danger? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the shock some neighbor might someday feel will engender fear and rage. But maybe the fact I’m already a cherished member of my little corner of the apartment complex will open a mind or two, if/when I’m outed. —But this is certain: coming out would put me in greater danger now. I don’t need that.


And so on and so forth.

With the advent of the Internet there’s really no such thing as deep stealth any more. But my closest neighbors aren’t exactly Internet whizzes. That said, my days of stealth probably won’t last forever. When they’re over I’ll deal, I’ll abide. Hell, I’ll even come to thrive. It’s what I always seem to do — survive. And in the meantime I am and will continue taking proactive steps.

I didn’t ask for or look for stealth. While it lasts … I’m conflicted, but I’m enjoying the unexpected peace and quiet.


Coda. This was a hard post to write, the topic difficult and very near to my life as I’m living it. All comments are of course welcome, but I do not need advice on whether to come out or not. I’ve received plenty of that already, some friends advising me to come out, some advising me not to. Thank you for your consideration.


8 thoughts on “Living in Stealth

  1. elnigma says:

    I think unless there’s a love interest involved, it’s not their business.

  2. You went into transition to express your real nature as a woman. You’re expressing that. I would be inclined to let that be enough; it’s not like it’s a defeat.

    • I didn’t mean that as advice, btw, just as support. I’m not minimizing the other issues you mention, just going “Rah! Rah!” about the good part.

      • Rachel Izabella says:

        Thanks, Freeman! I need all the “Rah Rahs!” I can get. I didn’t take your comment as unwanted advice anyway. You said what you meant and meant what you said. And I took it that way. So thanks.

        Love, Rachel

  3. I know exactly how you feel about every one of these points. I go back and forth about how “out” I want to be. Often, I feel like if I had any other medical condition, would it be everybody’s business? Nope. Only those who truly needed to know would be apprised of the situation. I’m not sure if that is being dishonest, fearful, etc. Sometimes, I think I owe it to other trans people to be more out and open just so there’s a chance for more acceptance. But, I also have to think about safety for myself and how any of this might impact my kids’ lives. Gah! Long-winded, but just wanted to reassure you you’re not alone in these conflicting thoughts.

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Sorry, Transparentguy, that it took me so long to reply to your comment. Thank you for your supporting and encouraging words. And your comment was *not* long-winded, it was just right.

      Much love, Rachel Izabella

  4. Susan says:

    I thought the whole idea of becoming a woman was–becoming a woman. You’ve gone through so much to reach this point (hormones, electrolysis, perhaps psychological therapy, not to mention the money involved and the awkwardness of early transition). You have every right to live stealth; it’s nobody’s business that–through the magic of modern medicine and technology–you present yourself to the world differently now. You are not living a lie. You have no reason to feel bad for being stealth. I always thought the whole idea of going through the process was to actually become for all intents and purposes a woman–period. Part of what makes us who we are entails the perception others have of us. It may not be fair and it may not be what we want, but it’s something all of us–ALL OF US–have to deal with. Not all of our interactions with others are face-to-face. We all talk about other people in their absence and certainly have thoughts about them–positive and negative. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be thought of and referred to as “that girl over in accounting” than “that tranny who works down the hall.” No woman, trans or not, lives her life with all of her secrets revealed. I wish you all the best Rachel–stealth or not.

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Hi Susan! — Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. I really needed a boost right now. 🙂 Also everything you say is right on the money as I’ve learned since I wrote this blog entry. One day I’ll revive this blog. I hope you visit and comment often.

      Much love — Rachel

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