From CNLester's twitter feed:
Always makes me smile, reading people arguing about being #stealth - some of us don't have the choice. #antistealth by default.
The arguments CN is referring to mostly revolve around whether or not transpeople, whose "trans" isn't obvious, or is no longer obvious, should live by "stealth" (that is without being "open" about who they are or were). It's primarily a political argument and I understand both sides – the stealth and anti-stealth positions. But I don't intend to write about them here, because I'm not trans in the same way, and it's not my place.
Or is it?
Thinking about stealth as it concerns TVs, as it concerns me: We don't seem to talk about this very much. We're just assumed to be stealth; we assume ourselves to be stealth. Our support groups assume that. All our discussions seem to be on that basis: safe spaces, safe times for cross-dressing, passing, secrecy, stealth. For this, as it were, default stealth, we're sometimes regarded (and disparaged) by other transpeople as part-timers, scuttling timidly in and out of the heteronormative woodwork, because we can. And it's true: anti-stealth transvestites aren't so plentiful. A lot of us are "out" at home, to a certain extent, within certain limits, but not so often in the wider world. And I understand all the reasons for that too.
So what about me?
I'm stealth. Pretty much; yes, I'd say that; I'm ashamed to say that. I'm not exactly part time – one coat, one cloth cap is the sum total of my "male" wardrobe – but I'm not anti-stealth either. Or even particularly "out".
Day to day, my presentation is hardly ever so femme as to cause alarm. In fact it's not very femmey at all. Although all my clothes are off the women's racks, they're not really that different from what I've always worn – jeans, jumpers, t-shirts, trainers. Maybe they don't look quite the same as those off the men's racks, but any apparent femme-iness is largely negated by being an otherwise un-femmey middle-aged man with a number-one shaved head. (And I don't actually mind that. I don't want to pass as a woman anyway, even supposing I still could; I just want to wear women's clothes – femme clothes.) Okay, I do get occasional comments such as: "nice jeans, mate" (sarcastically, having clocked that they're women's jeans); "that's a woman's coat!" (well, yes, so what?); or "do you pluck your eyebrows?" (no one has yet followed that up with "why?"). But there's nothing blatantly femme about my appearance. I don't go round the shops in a skirt and heels.
Similarly, while I think most people who know me know I'm a transvestite, that's not because we've ever had a serious conversation about it. I've not started one; they've not started one. They just know – without us having had to talk about it. I guess they all regard it, tolerantly, as my business (which of course it is) and choose (and probably prefer) to leave things as they are, without it intruding. And that's okay – up to a point.
So that's my life, mostly. Stealth. Stealth drag. Stealth living. Silence. Fear. Silence. Stealth. I said "up to a point", didn't I.
Excuse me while I go and chew the carpet.
Going back to the beginning: I don't think stealth is really getting us TVs anywhere. It certainly isn't getting me anywhere. Perhaps it's time we did talk about stealth.