21 June, 2009

trans visibility

thank you to the woman - i'm sorry your name escapes me at the moment - who works at the co-op for saying something to me about my blog!

i've been thinking a lot about my own visibility as a trans person lately. i really have a very faint idea of how out i am in my town, although feel that i am probably more out than i am aware of because i am in town and in the public eye more often.

this all seems to be a double-edged sword to me. i think being visible as a trans person is important in order to spread understanding and acceptance and rid of misconceptions and biases - discussions, conversations, workshops, questions must be had. however at the same time, what if you live in a place where you cannot be out, where you cannot be open about your trans identity (personal safety and privacy issues)? would you want to live in a place where you could not be out? would you feel safe in this place? i do worry about my safety and worry that something may happen to me for the mere fact that i am trans, though this fear does not keep me from being an activist and advocate.

of course i am going on the assumption that if one could be out that they would. however there are people who choose to not be out as trans people, who do not want their trans identity known, who just want to be seen as who they are and not necessarily as trans. being stealth vs. being out is a hot topic in the trans community and is a decision that each individual makes based on a variety of factors (health, safety, privacy, etc....). i think it is important to respect each person's decision on whether or not he/she decides to be stealth because each individual knows what is best for his/her own personal health and safety. in the same breath, if we as trans people remain hidden how can we spread knowledge and understanding? i think one can still be an activist and advocate even if they are not out - but what message is this spreading to the public? and how is information about trans issues received if it is not necessarily from a trans person?

so to my readers...
-what are your thoughts on trans visibility?
-how can trans people find a balance between their wants and needs of both their private and public lives?
-what message does being stealth send to the public/non-trans people?
-how is information about trans issues received if it is not necessarily from a trans person?



Nerissa said...

With the exception of the lucky few who transition young and the older transitioners who spend $$$ on transitioning related surgeries most MTF TSs do not "pass" nearly as well as we suppose. Therefore we don't need to make a point of telling others we're TS. They already know it. I say do whatever activism rocks your boat but don't beat people over their heads with the obvious.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big supporter of visbility and nonvisibility. I'm visible mostly because I would find it weird to "pass" as cismale, not to mention dishonest to my own nuanced gender identity (which is not entirely masculine). But I get why others would want to "go stealth," so to speak.