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Text Articles

Gender Activism

I have just never bought into the idea that you can take a hate filled epithet and "reclaim it" by liberal self-application of the term. Anyone who thinks that calling themselves "Queer" somehow makes the word "acceptable" or a source of pride is kidding themselves. It didn't work for "nigger" and it won't work for "queer" either. As long as there are intolerant bigots out there using a term like that in it's original sense, such self-application will never be anything but a humorous joke to those jerks.

Being stealth also does not make someone "vulnerable". If someone finds out about me, so what, being stealth doesn't mean that people won't sometimes find out (or be told voluntarily). It means you don't trumpet your origins to everyone you come in contact with.

Now, I'm not all that deep yet and a lot of people know about me, but no new acquaintance is told. I build my friendships "woman to woman" and "woman to man" and if the day ever comes when some of them discover my past, I will live with it.

Being "stealth" isn't about "hiding", it's about living your life as a woman without everyone coloring their perceptions of you by identifying you as a "man who is acting like a woman now". It is about interacting with people without constantly sensing that they are being somewhat patronizing by using female gender terms. You can sense the difference and detect the subtle delay as their brain says "wait a minute, be sure to call 'him', 'she'" Thank God, I only have a couple of people like that left who I interact with on a regular basis. It is just so much better to be with people who accept me as a woman without question. I think that's the ultimate end of our transition, not SRS, but true acceptance into the community of women.

Maybe the force behind so much of this endless debating is simply a reflection of the fact that for a lot of non-stealth non-ops, pre-ops (or even post-ops for that matter), they have never experienced that joy of being accepted, of being part of a group of women rather than a "guest" who is politely tolerated. There is also a special quality of interacting with a straight man who doesn't know that you are a TS versus encounters with tranny chasers or gay men who are really thinking of you as a "man with breasts" (and possibly a penis).

Once you've experienced these, making the choice to live as a "Transsexual" for the rest of your life to serve a vague political purpose is like condemning yourself to live "half a life". We could also address the issue of children, sparing them the social stigma of having a TS Dad. They deserve the right to be able to go to school and have a normal childhood without being a target because of their "queer Dad" (my kids have had it both ways and we all prefer me being "Mom" - life is just so much simpler).

Will every TG or TS experience this kind of acceptance? No. I certainly wish everyone could, but it won't happen. So there will always be that large group of "non-stealth" TS's out there. I guess the challenge is for these people to understand what they are asking a passable stealth TS to give up. They see "stealth" as being "hiding" and "running away" and "closeting", while we see it as the ultimate fulfillment of our lives, a positive final step in our personal transformation. I've never met a TS who went "stealth" out of "fear". You don't get this far without having more personal courage than 99% of the population.

Can we be charged with "selfishness"? Well, yes, that may be a valid point. But let's be honest, from one point of view our entire transition is an act of selfishness! We hurt our wives and children, distress our friends and co-workers and employers and all because we want to find that silly little thing called "self-fulfillment" or in many cases "self-preservation".

As I was saying, we are all guilty of being "selfish" to some extent, but there are limits to the good that self-sacrifice can do. We all hit that point where years of hiding out and concealing our transgenderism finally drives us to the breaking point. In my case, I was slowly killing myself with personal neglect of my health. Should I have continued on that path for the "good" of my family and been dead of a heart attack or stroke by now? Was I "selfish" to want to live so that I could be there for my children? My children think I made the right choice, "selfish" as it may have been.

How do they feel about calling me "Mother"? I did that with some reservations, but now it was clearly the right thing to do. Not only from the practical standpoint ("Jim, wanna go rollerblade at the park? Mom will drive us"), but also because it feels "right" to them and we are all comfortable with it. So being a little "selfish" can benefit everyone in the family, ironic as it may seem.

So am I selfish for going "stealth"? Yes. Would I be selfish to become an "activist" to make myself feel righteous regardless of the effects on my children? Yes, that would be selfish also.

Let's face it, it is all in your personal point of view when we start deciding who are the heroes and who are the villains here

So, do what you do for your own reasons and quit trying to impose your values and your priorities on others, but please try to remember that you are hurting others when you build images of a TG community that conform only to your personal view. A lot of TS's are NOT GAY and think twice before you do something that "labels" all of us with your own personal label. If you are going to be an activist, I think you have an obligation to insure that a balanced view is presented and that "stealth" hetero TS's are given as much consideration and courtesy when that image is being projected onto the media and into the political process. When that happens, maybe there is a chance for a "community" to arise that will speak for all, without the backbiting, insults, and posturing over "who's right". When individual sexual preferences and morality become secondary issues of a personal and private nature, rather than becoming a political "platform".

Example: sexual preference is totally irrelevant to the issue of transgenderism. Why should it matter whether I am gay or straight? Why should we be building an image of transgendered individuals as "Gay"? Sexual preference is not a distinguishing characteristic of a transsexual! Neither are your dating habits or personal morality or tastes in clothing! Why then does it always seem that the images that are being portrayed about us always seem to be couched in those terms? I think our "leadership" should be going out of their way to deny such links. The only image of a TG that should be projected is that of gender identification. That is the only thing we really have in common, we were born with the wrong feelings, instincts and thought processes for our birth sex.

And that's it, baby, from that point we diverge.

So let's focus on that basic truth and sell the right of personal self-identification of gender and drop all the arguments over who's gay/straight, passable/non-passable, pre-op/post-op/non-op, sexually active/sexually inactive, stealth/non-stealth, activist/non-activist, and all of the appearance issues (breast size, clothing preferences, makeup skills, voice, physical deportment etc etc etc etc). We are all human beings and that means that we are capable of independent thought and huge range of diversity in thought and behavior.

Can we "clear the decks" and get back to what we have in common? Can we quit bashing everyone who is "different"? Can we have folders like this one that can exist without it becoming a lightning rod to attract critics who want to glorify their own point of view?

Love & Peace,

Millie

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Revised: 11/07/10