A reader writes: “I’m a sixteen-year-old trans guy and I’ve been out to my immediate family for one year now. I’ve had many conversations with my mom about someday going stealth. She is extremely against it and says it’s deceitful – that it would be lying to people. She says I would be letting people believe I am something I’m not, a biological male, and that people should know the truth.
“I view my transsexualism as merely a medical condition. I’ve tried explaining this to her, but she’s standing firm with her ideas. How can I get my mom to accept me as a real man and get her to see that living stealth is not lying?”
Unfortunately, your mom is not alone in her belief that living “stealth” is living a lie. This is one reason why I don’t like the word – it indicates that you have a “secret.” Of course, everyone has at least one secret, and usually quite a few, and no one says they are living “stealth” because of those secrets.
But “stealth” is so embedded in the trans vernacular that it will probably never go away, and everyone in our community knows what it means, so we might as well use it to describe the situation that is, in reality, just living as who you are without announcing to the world that you’ve had some corrective medical intervention.
Most of my readers know that I favor being out, for a variety of reasons – the more people know us, the less they fear and hate us; the greater our visible numbers, the more likely we are to get equal rights and equal services; and we can go into politics (or any other line of work) without fear of an opponent digging up “dirt.”
On the other hand, I do not think that living stealth is living a lie. I don’t think it’s a betrayal, as some non-trans people – especially potential dates – like to claim. I don’t think it’s a deception in any sense of the word. And I think it’s up to each individual how he or she chooses to live his or her life.
“Biological man” can mean a lot of things. And I can guarantee that the majority of non-trans men alive today – those that we sometimes refer to as “biological men” – have never been tested to determine their chromosomes. Many have not been tested to determine their testosterone levels. Some don’t even have a penis and/or testicles to speak of, and these are not trans men that I’m talking about. Men come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, and there are any number of configurations among the non-trans population. So who’s to say what makes a “biological man”?
While I don’t agree with your mother, I can take some guesses at her thought processes. She still sees you as female. She still sees you as her daughter. So to her, it is a lie. She may fear that you will be in danger if you ever have to come out to someone. She may fear that your future job, or even your life, could be in jeopardy, or that you could be the target of some type of “blackmail.” Or she just may be still adjusting to the situation and trying to wrap her head around it, or hope that you will change your mind if she makes you feel that you are being deceitful.
You don’t say whether or not you are on hormones yet, but I’m guessing you’re not. It might be difficult for her to picture what you are going to look like once you are on hormones for only a few months and what types of surgery you might eventually have.
And she might not realize how many people out there are currently living stealth very successfully, with no problems at all. She doesn’t know about them because she doesn’t see them, which is what living stealth is all about, and their numbers are no doubt much higher than the number of people who are living out as trans.
At your age, you can very easily make the decision to live stealth, and it is better to start out stealth and later publicly come out if you want to than the other way around. In this era of the Internet, once you’re out, you’re out, and it is very difficult to go back “in” again. So that’s one point that you can use in discussions with your mother.
I also think that she might change her mind as she sees you change physically. Just seeing photos of other guys won’t do it – she needs to see you as a physical man. Once she sees how drastic the physical changes are, she might realize that your convictions about living as a man, with no “trans” qualifier, make sense.
But keep in mind that you might never get your mother to see you as a man. That is totally her decision and it is beyond your control. What you can request of her is that she use the correct name and pronoun for you and that she not out you. That is a matter of respect, and you have a right to ask for that. If she is not able to do that, then you will have to decide the type of relationship that you will have in the future. If she is willing and able to do that, then that’s about all you can ask for.
She might never agree with you that a stealth life is still an honest one. But as long as she doesn’t out you, you will be able to live your life as you want. Control what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
Congratulations on recognizing what you want to do at such an early age. That should make things a lot easier for you in the future, no matter what you decide.
Readers, what are your thoughts?