Business before pleasure.
This report from spirit friend Cara to our friends of Indiana heritage:
Then we have this from nearby Pennsylvania:
Spirit friend Kira alerted us to this from Minnesota:
We live within the environment of our own times.
It might be possible or easy for someone in their younger years (perhaps to age 30-something) to transition and live openly today. Not so for someone of a prior era and older generation – certainly quite difficult for those who transitioned during decades past (Christine – 1950s, Denise – 1960s) – as well as my contemporaries (Linda – 1970, Dena – 1980s).
My transition guidelines came from both Stanford Medical Center (1977) and Janus Information Facility (1978) when the essence of my endeavour really got into gear.
I had not heard the term ‘stealth’ til last Spring or Summer. It fits what our guidelines told us – blend in, be perceived as a woman rather than trans, do not disclose your past with co-workers and new friends.
People saw those TV talk shows during the 1980s that frequently sprung up with transsexual guests. Maria was one of those guests who made the regular circuit; we began and maintained a pen-pal relationship for a couple years. By my association with both Stanford and Janus, I also knew of a few others among those touring. The frequent caveat was to realise that staying private was like gold. Once you came ‘out’ and your private lives became public, there was no way to ever restore your private lives.
Stephen was a highly regarded public school teacher who was recognised by her state as a top teacher. He was fired when news of his transition from female to male hit the school district administration. He had to settle working as a manual laborer; quite a drop from when she was ‘Teacher of the Year’ the previous school year.
Another was a decorated airline pilot. Her employer fired him when they learned of her transition from male to female. She had to settle for work as a retail clerk in a flower shop.
These changes from a celebrated career among colleagues down to entry-level work devastated many lives and families.
Remember, there was no marriage equality thirty-some years ago. Several states imposed that a married couple be divorced before any transitioning could begin. All states required the destruction of the family marriage of the trans person; so much for Republican ‘family values’ that they would restore under Trump / Pence.
My counsellors during the later 1980s and early 1990s approached me and asked me to speak to university students. Perhaps I was weak about it in the long-term concept of ‘the cause’. I had to decline because I could not take that chance being public and possibly never again attaining decent employment.
There was no way I could tell anyone during first introductions of relationships with expectations that they would not extend beyond a certain point. There would be no such, ‘Hi, my name is Sharon and I’m trans’. I had two boyfriends during the late 1980s whom I did not tell and one Lesbian girlfriend during the mid-1990s whom I did not tell. It was likely fear of rejection more than anything else.
It was not as though I lived isolated and withdrawn from society and not making new friends for all those intervening years. I had experiences with people as light friendship but could not ever dare get close. I lived as ‘stealth’ until about 18 months ago. I was beginning to crawl out of my hiding place because I recognised that I would never work again anyway, therefore that prime issue no longer mattered.
Marriage or children were no concern. I made my position easy that I enjoyed being single rather than confined by children. Thus, unlike those younger than me who might face a partner and need to explain their childless predicament, my child-rearing days were in the past and not a question at any point. Besides, it was my evolving perspective that my past is my medical privacy, not a public spectacle even between two consenting adults.
No, I did not exactly wave the trans flag wherever I went. I decided that there was no point running from my past. It is private in my life, yet I decided that if there were instances when it came known, then I would not deny it as I had done in my past.
Maybe I would cop an attitude, maybe I would play educator, or maybe I would matter-of-fact reply ‘Yes’ and move on. Each circumstance would be its own. So far, I have had only one such ‘outing’ – I felt that I could return the favour when a new friend who is a nurse came ‘out’ to me as a Lesbian.
I regret living in ‘stealth’, it meant living in fear. I hope today’s society has improved so that younger trans people will not face the same obstacles rampant a few decades ago. On the other hand, I spent many years since childhood dealing with my transition, so why not shout it from the roof-tops.
‘Post traumatic stress’?
Yes, Sophia, many trans people do experience such a mental stress – both before and after transition. My life experiences may not have been ‘normal’ for anyone else, but my life is ‘normal’ to me, however bad those experiences.
Yes, Sophia, having lived long enough post-op, I do experience periods of time when I have no acknowledgement of my trans – be it a day, a week, a month, maybe a year or two or more. Such trans events as my ERT, my medical appointments, my dilation are mere routines of my life as ‘normal’, rather than my life as trans.
Recently pondering this point, the longest duration perhaps exceeded two decades for me. Only when my last, and final, employer initiated action to fire me because I am trans (2008) did I get that jolt that I had to confront for my self that an earlier employer also fired me for being trans (1983). Kinda good news / bad news. For quite a while that second firing made my trans awareness return to the top of my thought process. Now it again is slipping down the rungs as time and attention change.
Karen, you know it! I lost most everything the first time (1983), had to re-build and start my work career from the bottom despite education and experience, and lost most everything the second time requiring me to re-build my personal life because my employer vowed that I would never work again that last time (2008). I was broke and essentially without home both times (facing eviction the first time, facing foreclosure the second time). That’s not to mention having lost family and ‘friends’ in the overall process.
Time eases our rough edges. Likewise, Karen, I lost my stridency through the gradual process of life
I identify my self as female far more than as trans, though I endured the trans experience. I spent my childhood since at least age 3 in what was termed ‘feminine protesting’ (‘I’m a girl!!!’), was forced to present as a boy, and eventually transitioned to female.
I dislike that ‘woman in a man’s body’ description; it does not apply to me anyway. I have always been female in a female’s body; if you must, then say that I lived two decades as a male in a female body. My birth room doctors failed to identify me correctly; doctors during my late M-F transition determined that I am female by inter-sex. I proceeded to fix the mistake of those birth room doctors. My sister is a nurse, but she still can’t get past either inter-sex or trans-sex.
I agree in large part that living openly is still, at least for we older generation, a truly revolutionary act. I do not know how well I can live up to that stature.
The easiest people to initiate friendship are those in our local trans and LGBT support groups. We have common bonds. We need not all be M-F trans; some are themselves cis. We all exist in a better understanding among us than the rest of the cis world. Maybe they will catch up to us, maybe we shall leave them in our dust.
Amy, I have never seen episodes of ‘Transparent’ because I do not have cable TV; I have not seen that episode you mention equating Jews and trans at NAZI death camps, if I have that correct. I am, however, what I self-describe as a ‘Student of the Shoah’. I have travelled; I have seen NAZI death camps such as Dachau. Of course NAZIs murdered trans and others of the LGBT rainbow with the same ferocity as Jews, so I also see that sense and feel that potential persecution if the politics in this nation turn sour.
I found your comparison that a trans childhood is comparable to Jews sent to NAZI death camp intriguing and perhaps, depending upon individual experiences with some, merit equivalence of the two. I can recall events in my childhood life that were extreme, though certainly any one day lived at Dachau is far more than my mere childhood (even my entire life) in total.