Stealth vs Out: Decision Making

Last time I recounted my story of going from 100% out to 98% stealth.  This time I’d like to go through some basics to help people make a conscious decision about how open they want to be.  I’m of the mindset that it’s better to know where you stand on these things so you know what to do if an awkward situation ever comes up.

Let’s start by asking some basic questions.  First off, where are you in terms of your personal transition?  I’m about as far as I’m gonna get for a few years.  I’m on T and just waiting for it to kick in, but top is being put off because I have no money.  There’s not much more I can do at this point so it’s just a matter of waiting and saving.  Socially, I’m accepted as a member of the local gay male community and no longer have to explain that whole trans thing to most people.  Occasionally I’ll meet someone who’s had experience with other FtMs, but they’re always discreet enough to let themselves be known in very discreet ways rather than asking outright.

Why do we ask this?  Because different phases in transition require different levels of disclosure.  I don’t have to be out anymore, but that’s recent.  A year ago I couldn’t have gotten away with introducing myself as a guy and having people accept it without question.  A no-op, no-ho guy who never passes probably isn’t going to get the luxury of being stealth.  Sometimes we have to be out even when we don’t want to be.

Next question: Where do you see yourself five years from now in terms of transition? I always  had a hard time with this one which is probably part of why I was so open early on.  It didn’t occur to me that five years (or less) in the future I wouldn’t need to explain myself, let alone want to.  It’s a good question to try to answer though, especially if you’re still very early in things.  Personally, I see myself post-top and 100% passing (as opposed to the 80ish% I have now).  I’ll be close to 30 then (dear god…) and hopefully to a point where even guys who are used to FtMs no longer ask questions.

Now’s where it starts to get tricky.  In five years, if all goes according to plan, how comfortable do you think you’ll be disclosing your trans status? This is a hard one just because it kind of requires seeing into the future.  The only reason I know I won’t be comfortable disclosing in the future is that I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and know what they feel like.  Still, it’s worth at least attempting to answer questions like these early on.

All three of these questions were pretty general.  They weren’t designed to tell us which particular individuals to come out to, that’s something that takes a lot more in depth thought.  Instead they show us where we are now and where we may be in the future.  That helps us figure out how to prepare.  I know I won’t want to be out in five years so I make an effort to keep my trans-related life separate from everything else.

That’s why I don’t post photos, I don’t use my real name, and I try to keep identifying details limited.  I asked a friend to host this blog so it’s on a different webspace from all of my other online activities and I don’t list it anywhere in connection with my real name (so no Facebook, LJ, MySpace, etc.).  When I come out to people I make it very clear that this is private information.  I’m careful to only come out to people I trust to keep it to themselves.  This means no anonymous sex, but that’s not really my thing anyway.  If it was I’d have to find a way around that.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I completely distance myself from the trans community.  There are a couple of local trans support groups I go to occasionally, mostly because I feel like SOMEONE should show that we’re not all the same.  I avoid the online trans community because I tend to get into fights, but obviously I keep this blog.  I spoke at a trans symposium in June, but I made sure to use a nickname because speakers were listed online.  I use the same nickname for any news articles or medical studies I agree to participate in.  There is a way to keep a balance, it just requires some extra thought.

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