Monday, November 12, 2007

Stealth I

I've thought so much about the "stealth state" that most post-op sisters adopt once achieving their goal. These thoughts of mine have been ongoing since 2002 when I started corresponding with a local young TS woman. I contacted her due to my interest to meet other gender crossing (XG) people near me. She accepted my interest right away and with time she started expressing her confidence while developing trust in me. We finally met at the end of 2003 as she was moving away to achieve "Stealth" status.

Early 20's pretty young gal, that was very confused and angry about living as a male, when she always felt to be a woman. As we were starting our friendship, she had already achieved some cornerstones, such as coming out to family members and selected friends and had began hormone replacement therapy (HRT). At work, she was the boy as she was born, though as time progressed became quite androgynous and quite passable with her own long hair, arched brows, wonderfully chiseled features and a slender 5'9" frame. Her demeanor within was clearly very feminine as she always exhibited traits similar to any other woman I had known, though carried a strong disregard for male attitudes. She had confided in me that she had never had an intimate relationship with either gender and was unsure about her sexual orientation, though she was open to exploring a relationship with a man.

Shortly before she decided to move, she had a Trachea shave procedure and possibly rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction) but I can't really say since I had only seen one picture of her before the surgical procedures.

For the most part, our exchanges were about her emotional state of mind. Probably 9 out of 10 times she was very unhappy and ready to burst. It was my first real encounter with Gender Dysphoria. I became a sort of "counselor" through our correspondence, I began noticing how she would start looking at her situation from other angles after my long mail messages. Therefore, her views would slowly shift to entertaining herself looking at her internal process, rather than the events that would take place around her. There were times however she would be very upset because she did not like my way of looking and presenting things. Note: I was not her counselor, but it felt like if I was. Our exchanges were of one that occurs between two adults, one much older than the other and at times my personal opinion would be a part of the deal.

Toward the end of our correspondence, we started talking about stealth issues. I knew so little about it and remember reading at an MSN group that one regular member exited the group w/o any goodbyes. The stealth concept was brought into the board and I started learning that it was a part of the expected result when arriving to the end of the transitioning process.

My friend Kay (not her real name), started talking very seriously about it. I noticed we were both taking the issue seriously and at times got emotionally involved. A natural process for me, since I was beginning to figure my own thoughts and feelings about the whole issue, regardless of how convinced whether I was going for a full transition or not. As I voiced my own soul, I learned so much about Gender Dysphoria and even more about the repercussions of transitioning.

With regards to doing such personally, I wanted to learn all of the implications as in my view, a vital core part of spiritual/psychological/emotional growth were to be forsaken in this process. However, I delved into the idea that I may possibly do the exact same, so I kept the door open, so I could figure all of the positives as well as negatives of doing so.

Kay's case was very similar to many others. Although her family "accepted" her decision to transition, they didn't know how to approach the situation. Kay felt unsupported and not welcome in her new lifestyle. Support was extremely hard to come by as well as grasp due to the lack of awareness of the processes involved successfully transitioning from someone looking in from the outside. I remember watching an airing of Oprah Winfrey when her show covered a transitioning woman as she said, “I simply cannot understand why and how you can put yourself through all of this.” She was as honest as they come and I could tell there was genuine concern in her feeling, but as well she was proud of her guest for having the courage to take what she felt was the right course.

Kay and I covered so many aspects of becoming stealth. One that caught my attention deeply was that she told me that by becoming stealth she wouldn't be in need of disclosing her past to any potential lover. She was a woman, period! That ran the alarm bells for me. I remember some of the cases in which transgender women were beaten and others killed once their partners found out their lovers past as a male. I expressed my concern about it and she got very angry with me and presented all her arguments to support her view, none of which felt valid as they would not prevent her from becoming a victim of her potential lover. In the conversation we had previous to last (in person) I was so alarmed, that my response was ringing with outrage that at some point I told her "I think you should swallow an acid (LSD) so you can see other things. Like what life is in its real essence." I didn't mean it literally, but I wanted to convey to her that I was worried for her safety and well being. The topic pretty much died there and she assumed her stealth status and slowly phased out of my life.

From my outlook, the integration of both genders, past and present provide the richest wealth we can gather to nurture our souls in this life. Putting one or the other in the closet is a criminal act that many of us have lived for so many years and we need to have in depth knowledge thereof. With regards to living stealth, I acknowledge the fact that as we progress in our transition our past history and lifestyle slowly vanishes. In my experience, the saddest of all is realizing that my male persona is going away and I dearly loved myself as a male, even if I prefer to present as a true woman. I am extremely grateful for it allowed me to learn so much, protecting and giving me the opportunity to be a first hand witness that a lot of things are much easier for males.

Many of the achievements in my life would not have been possible as a female. So letting go of my male persona has been a sad experience. Not that I can't do it or that I do not want to, it’s just simply sad to take a critical part of ones make up and figuratively place it on a shelf never to be used again.

I didn't have a problem with anything associated being a male, since I felt comfortable falling somewhere between both genders. How I felt, thought, acted, related, etc. & remembering long ago my father's wife told me "I think you're afraid of women.” Referring to my lack of ability to approach in a sexual way a woman we both knew that I was so attracted to! Every single minute I spent with her was like pure heaven. She enticed me at all levels and I couldn't make my move to become intimate and personal with her. I felt she was attracted to me as well and it would have been easy for me to take that step, however she was married and that is a moral line I would not cross. She was in a marriage that was collapsing and her husband was not a safe person. Very controlling, incredibly powerful, rich, popular, you name it. Had I became involved with her, the stakes would have been extremely high including the custody of her children. I knew as well, my chances of surviving such relationship were small under these circumstances. My female persona had enough depth to know exactly what was happening to her and what I would represent to her at such moment in her life. It would have been great, though temporary moment for us both carrying serious complications. My female feelings wouldn't allow me to succumb to all the desire I experienced with and for her! I could have gone either way, but I chose to honor my appreciation for intimacy rather than my physical call. If there was a fear towards women, it was the fear I experience due to my XG condition, not to females at all.

What does that have to do with stealth issues? The acceptance of my duality of that time allowed me to see both ends of the spectrum. My male counterpart will never be as it was ever again. I feel a deep level of nostalgia as I see my male presence fading like a sunset. The very same way I saw my female persona before I found the courage to honor it as it seemed so far away! My male is in that same place and I will honor it for as long as I live. Maybe I will not act like I did then and maybe I will not ever use the resources of my male ego again, but that male of my past is and always will be a core part of what this life of mine has been to this day. It has nothing to do with hormones, or my body shape, nor the way I look at life. It is not a physical realm as much as it is purely spiritual.

The most challenging part of a transgender life is integrating both parts of the self, to make peace with it and honor what one is within. So becoming stealth is simply starting a new chapter in life in which we live right now w/o going back to the past for whatever reason it maybe. A chapter that always existed will carry forth a part that was me, my life, my body, my spirit, my past, my learning years and I can't turn my back to the core part of myself to make things easier nor smoother. At some point or another, that hidden secret of mine may become as dangerous as I perceived in the past as one of being discovered as a XG woman. That skeleton in the closet does not lead to anything positive at any level in life and if we live with them as such, we are prone to all of the guilt and shame defeating the purpose of life.

TO BE CONTINUED.

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