[UPDATE: This post refers only to my own experiences. It is in no way meant to condemn those who live stealth lives. It is also a bit outdated, seeing as I’ve been coming out as trans in recent months]
So I’m stealth, yeah? Stealth, for those of you that don’t know, is the peculiar trans phenomenon of completely hiding your past from the world. You pretend that you have always been one particular gender, that you were born that way, that you have never been anything else. To be honest, I’ve never been very good at it.
Oh, that’s not to say that I’m NOT stealth. I don’t tell anyone about my past, and I don’t think anybody knows. If people do know then they have never said and the straight guys I’ve slept with have never gone “OMG, tranny!”. There are a couple of close cis friends that I’ve told but we don’t really speak about it. What is there to say to them?
But that doesn’t mean that, to me, stealth isn’t a phenomenon of deceit. I was never born female or went though the things a cis female went through. I don’t know how scary a first period was, or the panic of thinking I might be pregnant. I don’t know what it was like to be a girl growing up and watching boys with lustful eyes. I’ve never known fear of males. I really honestly don’t know anything about those things, except what I can glean from reading the experiences of others.
I was was never a girl. Let me repeat that: I was never a girl. So me ever talking about those things as if they happened to me is a blatant lie, a very dangerous lie, one that leads to a lot of hatred for us as trans people. I grew up as a boy. I had Lego and toy cars. I played in the mud and went hunting for tadpoles down the canal. I discovered what fun a penis is and what masturbation is like. I played with toy guns and was aggressive at times. We can argue about artificial gender divisions and nature vs nurture, but whatever your views, I was raised as a boy, with boy privilege and boy social rewards.
On the other hand, I was never a man either. I started HRT when I was 18 and transitioned at 19, as young as I could independently do it. There isn’t really a point in my life where I’ve lived as an adult male, as a man. I will happily accept that I was a boy, but a MAN? No way. I was never one of those.
So what do you do when talk turns to childhood issues? I can’t force myself to lie and say “When I was a girl” and carry on as if I have a cis background. On the other hand, it’s not normally easy to drop “When I was a boy” into a conversation, unless you wish to extend every conversation by 10 times to accommodate the “whut?” factor. So I normally avoid the issue or use gender neutral language. “When I was a kid”, “When I was growing up”, etc.
However, that only goes so far. Once you’re in with a group of women talk will, eventually, at some point, turn to very womany things.
Sex. Contraceptives. Periods. Pregnancy. Babies.
I’ve only got experience of the first one (and then only with analogous equipment). The rest? *whooosh over my head* I ain’t got a clue. And that’s really painful to admit, because it feels like it makes me less of a woman. I’ve missed out on a huge part of the experiences that make cis women the women they are. If you’re a cis female you may not think that periods are anything more than a nuisance, but if you’ve never had one you’re constantly wondering what it’s like.
(And don’t get me started on pregnancy. That is a REALLY FUCKING SORE POINT. I want to get pregnant. I can’t. A whole can of fucked-up is waiting to be opened right there, like the spaghetti hoops of doom).
You may wonder then how I cope with these conversations. You know, I don’t think I do. I tend to go quite quiet (which if you’ve ever met me, you’ll know is odd) and possibly blush a bit. It’s at those times that I feel such a fake.
So maybe I shouldn’t be hiding my past. Maybe I should be saying “When I was a boy” and commenting “Ooh, I don’t know what that feels like”.”Nah, I never had a period as I was a boy back then”,
It feels more honest that way. But I don’t think I’m brave enough yet.