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.