Tag Archives: Passing

STEALTH: Undercover Transgender Brother

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.[1] 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.[5] 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.[6](credit: wikipedia)

BULLYING

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)

MURDER

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)

REALITY CHECK

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.

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Macho Men & The Femme Factor

Sabrina Pandora

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bit of a division in the trans community, such as it were.  I thought I’d take today to comment on it.

Y’see, there are certain inequalities that exist in the trans community.  Well, let’s be honest, there are a lot of them, but today we’re going to examine one so that I can move on to my point.  And that inequality is in passing.

Between transmen and transwomen there is a very, very clear division on this, and it has been pretty accepted, so I don’t feel as though I am overstepping my bounds in making this observation.  Transmen have an easier time of it when it comes to passing than transwomen, at least on casual inspection.  After all, a short haircut, men’s clothes, a binder and a little bit of swagger can go a long ways.  Add a little facial hair to that equation and very few people really question what’s under there.  They are far more likely to jump to the conclusion ‘gay man’ then they are ‘trans man’.

But for transwomen it is usually a whole lot harder.  Trying to dress up a Y chromosome in a pretty package and make it look X so that society won’t freak out, discriminate and laugh at you is a whole lot harder.  This is arguable, but again, I’m pretty sure that I’m on target here.

So with that logical assumption made, we move on to my next observation, which is segregation between the gender fences in the trans community.  How often do you see transmen and transwomen hanging out together?  Seems pretty seldom.  Transwomen and transmen flock together all right (so long as the trans women are all either unpassable or uncaring- but that’s a column for another time).  But the intermingling just doesn’t seem to happen.  Now why is that?

Observation has told me that it is the Passing Prejudice.  The rule that says that if you are trans and you spend time with someone who does not pass well enough, then you are instead making yourself suspect as well and bringing down your own passability.  Now, mind you, this rule also applies to straights who hang out with non-passable transfolk, but somehow it usually doesn’t bother them as much.  Go figure.

Because as mentioned earlier, transmen often pass reasonably easily, whereas transwomen do not.  So in order to keep themselves from being ‘read’, they avoid their opposite numbers when they can, and certainly don’t make a habit of socializing with them.  Besides, there is that not-so-vague and not-so-quiet notion that has been circulated that transmen somehow view their sisters in transition as somehow idiotic and ridiculous.  As they are working so hard to distance themselves from stereotypically feminine behavior, habits and lifestyle, transwomen are often rushing headlong to embrace it, some at a breakneck pace.  It just makes no sense to many transmen, and much like so many activists look at the overblown drag queens on floats in parades and shake their heads that these are their representatives to the community and how they are viewed by the world at large, so too do the transmen look at the 50 year old transwoman in the too-short vinyl skirt and six inch heels and fishnet top and bra with a bedraggled wig and sigh.

But there’s something that they are missing out on, and I think that it is important enough to mention and shed a little light upon.

You see, transwomen are a huge resource for transmen that are being largely ignored.  Yes, they do tend to have their idiosyncrasies and they do have their moments, but there is a simple fact that most transmen seem to overlook when considering them.  You see, transmen, particularly when they are first starting out, do not usually have an understanding of the nuances of masculine society.  They do not understand the subtle body language, the power of a nod up or down when passing another man, the difference in the way that a self-confident man walks versus an angry man or an effeminate man.

Sure, we can argue all day about the definitions of masculinity and how it is up to the individual to define that for themselves.  You betcha, that is quite true.  But the reality of the situation is that while society has some pretty preset and concrete ideas of what is femininity, it has even stronger ideas about masculinity.  And they are very simple, very basic and very, very concrete.

And transwomen know them better than anyone else in the world.

Why?  Because they did not come naturally to them… they had to learn to emulate those masculine behaviors and adhere to those masculine codes in order to learn to survive in the society that they never chose, but was thrust upon them.  Crossing your legs the right way, keeping those hand gestures tight and firm, portraying the acceptable emotional states… all of these things and so many more are all something that transwomen had to learn, because for so many of them, it did not come naturally.  They had to ape the men around them, and often through ridicule and hazing did they find what was acceptable.

So when they encounter transmen, here is a golden opportunity.  Any transwoman who had to unlearn behaviors and body language could potentially make a fantastic tutor for transmen who are trying to hone their own masculine behaviors.  Just as walking in heels takes practice and comes with a learning curve, so too does walking in sneakers as a guy, or cowboy boots.  Women walk with their elbows in, one of the keys of feminine body language, whereas men bow their elbows out to take up more space and appear larger.  Women run their fingers through their hair one way, men do it another.  Seldom will you see a woman rubbing the scruff of her chin while thinking, whereas men seldom play with their lower lip when in thought.

All of these subtle nuances that could be transferred… lost.  And I imagine that there is some teaching to go in the other direction too, but on that I can’t speak… after all, I know a few transmen in passing, but I can’t say that I am close friends with a single one.  Why?  Because I am a transwoman.  I am high femme, and I’ve yet to meet a transman who thought I had a single solitary thing to offer him, forget about actually befriending me and spending time around me.  And apparently in this I am not alone, as I poll other transwomen that I know, and find that while we know others of our own estrogen-fueled tribe, the testosterone tribe is unknown to us all.

So here’s the call to our brothers in transition… in many cases, we’re here, we know, and we can be an invaluable resource for you if you can get over stubborn pride and seek us out.  We spent years pretending to be men, so we know a bit about the subject of outward shows of masculinity.  Perhaps we might be able to help you become the man that you want to be… and perhaps you might be able to steer us away from floral prints and leather miniskirts.

 

Written by Sabrina Pandora

TQ Nation contributor

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TQ Nation Review: Good Vibrations (Packers & STPs – Oh My!)

Need a Packer?

I recently purchased a few items and have come to a very satisfied conclusion, so i figured I’d blog about it for the reference of others…
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After being referred by a friend, I went to GoodVibes website and right away liked what I saw.

Immediately there was a tab labeled Gender Expression and there they had EVERYTHING I was currently looking for.

Their GV Soft Pack is THE MOST LIFELIKE PACKER at this price that I’ve seen in a while. They’ve got it in 3 colors, and 2 very believable and life-like sizes. I read in their review that the packer had “a slightly firmer inner core [which] allows for more rigidity to the shaft [and] result[s] in [it’s] more realistic feel”, so I was curious and wanted to see for myself. Ranging from only $24-28, it seemed like a pretty logical risk to take, so I signed myself up for a 4-inch.

As soon as I put this little guy on I felt comfortable, and SUPER passing. This thing REALLY feels real. The rigidity of the inner shaft makes it hang in a more believable manner and it fits perfectly into the harnesses (mentioned in the following paragraphs) elastic pouches so it stays in place giving the wearer confidence that his bad boy isn’t going sliding down his pant leg when he stands up….. *sigh*

An item I’ve been badly needing to upgrade in one of the everyday-undergarments used for ‘passing’ was a COMFORTABLE harness that STILL has OPTIMAL PACKAGE CONTROL. They have several genius harness options, the style i purchased has just a plain (thin in depth, thick in width) elastic band around the waist, and a simple leather section stitched to the waist-band with a little, to be frank, elastic pouch for the balls of the packer to sit in. I purchased one in this style WITH leg-straps and one WITHOUT leg-straps.

The harness WITHOUT leg-straps stays in place just fine, the leather is smooth and adjusts to your body temperature just like the material of the packer, so it doesn’t irritate and it provides a layer between you and your packer, helping in the ‘stickiness’ department that I know alot of us Boys stuck in the south have to deal with in the depths of the summer.

ALSO, my partner and I noticed, as i was about to check out the ‘cart’, that they carried an STP (Stand To Pee) device, one intended not just for fTms but for any female-bodied person who wants to pee standing up for any reason (camping, dirty bathrooms, NO bathrooms, etc.). They’re cheap and they come in a rainbow variety of colors.They’re of the most basic of concepts, just a bit of a drain/slide with a wider end that goes against you and a thinner end with a run-off spout.

So, to conclude my rating on my positive experience with Good Vibes, I give them an overall 5 out of 5 stars for swiftness of delivery, quality and availability of product, and for throwing in a free sticker [:

Written by: Dae Jedic, TQ Nation Sponsorship Director

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