The STEALTH decision
One thing I have learned is that you can never speak for a group as a whole. Our opinions and thoughts might not be shared…and that is okay. That is the beauty of what makes us all unique individuals.
This post is about being stealth. What is “stealth”, you might ask? It is where one chooses to not disclose their transition to the outside world (ie: work, school, etc.)
Obviously, you can never escape your transition from certain people; however, some choose to live and blend into our surroundings, much like a chameleon.
Some argue, “you must be ashamed of who you are!” Yet, I beg to differ. We unfortunately live in a world that is infiltrated by bigotry, ignorance, hate and defiance. Some of us have spent years being ridiculed for the “choices” they made in their lives. Some of us just want a break.
While others will debate the “stealth” decision by saying, “you are choosing not to educate others, you are not an advocate, an activist”…I say, “don’t judge.”
ENDA to END Discrimination
What is right for you isn’t always right for someone else. We do not always feel the same, have had the same situations or same responses. Some families embrace their children, while others shun them. Some companies welcome us with open arms, while others can attest to being unemployed for years and not given the opportunity, simply based on one thing: they are transgender.
And, guess what? There isn’t a law to protect us. ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) is a proposed bill to protect us; yet, it is still waiting to be approved by the United States Congress.
“ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 (except the 109th) while previous employment anti-discrimination legislation has been proposed since 1974. The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections. In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time ever. However, some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion, and dropped it from the bill, which passed and subsequently died in the Senate. LGBT advocacy organizations, and the community, were divided over support of the changed bill.
In 2009, on the heels of the 2008 elections that strengthened the Democratic majority, and after the divisiveness of the 2007 debate, a transgender-inclusive ENDA was introduced by House representative Barney Frank. Frank reintroduced the bill in 2011. Shortly thereafter, the bill was introduced in the Senate by Jeff Merkley.
Transgender people may experience higher rates of discrimination than the LGB population. A survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people Conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality found 90 percent of respondents experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it. In comparison, a review of studies conducted by the Williams Institute in 2007 found that transgender people experienced employment discrimination at a rate 15 to 57 percent.” (credit: wikipedia)
One thing we are all familiar with is bullying. Even if we haven’t personally been a victim, we probably know someone who has. Recently, an FTM friend of mine living in San Francisco was a victim and beaten severely.
“More than half of transgender or gender non-conforming people who experienced bullying or harassment have attempted suicide, according to a recently released study.
“From our experience working with transgender people, we had prepared ourselves for high rates of suicide attempts, but we didn’t expect anything like this,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our study participants reported attempting suicide at a rate more than 25 times the national average.”
Rates of attempted suicide rose dramatically — to 59 percent — when the victim’s teacher or professor was the perpetrator of bullying or harassment. Among those who had been physically assaulted by a teacher or professor, 76 percent reported having attempted suicide.” (credit)
For the year 2011, there was a reported 221 victims that were murdered based on their gender identity. How many more occurred that were left unreported? (see 8 of the victims here)
By this point, you are most likely shaking your head and thinking, “gee, Tristan, this sure is depressing!”
Yes, it is quite depressing. Yet, it is a reality.
I have personally won “Best Transgender Activist” for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 by the readers of GA Voice. I was voted one of the 50 most influential people in our community by the readers of Fenuxe magazine in 2010. (click here)
Am I gloating? Hardly. While my claims of being a Trans Warrior and Advocate are very true, I sit at my desk in a conservative company STEALTH.
Am I ashamed of being Tristan Skye? Not at all. If anything, I’m more proud of the “Skye” part of me than anything else. But, the private part of me, sits here proud of who I am and happy, yes HAPPY, to be here and be seen for exactly who I am. A man. A smart, witty guy who happens to be very creative and good at what I do. A guy who is married with a newborn son.
Why don’t I wave the transgender flag proudly at my desk? I don’t have to. I do my part and educate others even while stealth. I defend our community and have actually been surprised to hear many of my conservative co-workers be in favor of things like gay marriage. I have been an advocate, undercover. That is how I see myself. I’m like an undercover agent.
To fact is, I worked hard scholastically to get to where I am today. I was “out” at every job prior to this one. My previous job, I went from “F” to “M” and they had to learn to change pronouns.
Upon being hired at my current place of employment, I had to contact ALL previous employers and tell them about my transition and that I am now legally and medically “male.” I even had to call that one boss from hell that mocked me and was condescending while I worked under him.
YES, I enjoy being one of the guys. I enjoy the experience of passing. For me, that was what I dreamed about. I can’t say I ever wanted to feel “normal” because I realize…WHAT is normal? WHO is normal? I know what the majority of society THINKS is normal…but, I agree that normal is boring. I’m not normal. Even being stealth…I’m NOT normal. I couldn’t be normal even if I tried.
I have gone to great lengths to have my outside match my inside. I have changed my name, undergone surgery, had my sex marker changed on every document, including my birth certificate…gotten legally married and am the legal father of my son.
I went from the aggravating world of being called “she”, “her” and “ma’am” to “he”, “him” and “sir.”
I have went from low self esteem to high self esteem.
I would NEVER deny my past if asked. Yet, I don’t provide that information when it comes to my work. I don’t drive around with a car that says “Tranny Inside” on it.
If anyone EVER said anything negative about our community, I would immediately jump in to defend and educate.
I know some of you might disagree with what I have chosen for my life. But, as I don’t disapprove of your life, I ask you respect how I feel. I do not stand alone in our community with the decision I have personally made.
I actually feel like I’m “half” stealth. Half of my life is undercover, so to speak, and the other half is as if Hurricane Tranz is coming through! Look out!
Yet, I don’t feel like I’m being any less of ME. I feel honest and true with myself everywhere I am and go. I’m not ashamed, I am protective. I have had plenty of HATERS in my lifetime, I can assure you. I have had death threats and wishes put on me by those “disgusted” by who I am and what I represent. Do I stop what I do in the community? NEVER. Bring it on!
To those of you who wear your pride on your sleeve 24/7…thank you! You are rebels with a cause and stand up with pride at all times, ready and armed to defend our Trans community. Some of you choose to never legally change your names and/or sex markers to make a point for others to always know your roots and who you are and what you’re all about. That definitely is bold and brave and I think that takes strength to purposefully be a pillar of education and advocacy at all times. And, for some of you, you could totally go stealth, yet you would never do it.
For some others, they have gone stealth and I can’t even find them anymore. It’s like they have disappeared. They moved away, most likely, and started over fresh and brand new.
Me? I’m happy just where I’m at. I’m happy with my life. I’m happy being me. I still wish some things could be different, but I know everything I go through only makes me grow and become a stronger person. I still have struggles. I still have bad days. I’m human.
Because I’m human, I have the privilege of personal choice. I would never deny another their rights, and I ask you all to never deny someone else’s personal choice. From no-ho to ho, from surgery to no surgery, from gender queer to transgender…the whole purpose of this is to be TRUE to ourselves and find that peace and happiness that our soul desires.
You are my family. The family that has always loved, supported and accepted me. I could NEVER leave my family behind…and, I promise, I never will.