February 6, 2010

Debbie wrote:
> Almost all people look at GI (gender identity) and SO (sexual orientation) as being the same.

So who is going to educate them? We sure can't count on the government for that. And, sadly, we can't count on the gay community either. As Barney Frank stated, "More education is needed." Did women wait for some open-minded men to educate other men that women were worthy of participating in society? Did blacks wait for open-minded whites? Those of us who are out have to do this, even if it means giving up our desire to go stealth.

Frankly, I think the old idea of "stealth" is grossly overrated. From whom does one wish to hide one's past? For me, my recent experience has provided me an answer: I wish to have the pain of living in the wrong world behind me. This is much like the pain of losing my wife to her illness. I don't want (and probably can't) forget my wife, but I hate the pain resulting from that loss.

I am finding, though, that just living my life now and interacting with people as the real me is making some of that grief fade away. I will never be able to completely hide the fact that I am a TS. And why should I? My past makes me who I am. However, I am once again "picking my battles." At my office, where they have never known me as anything else, the subject just does not come up, and if it did, it would simply be an immaterial distraction. But when I go to meetings at the Tiffany Club, for example, I can discuss it freely and even compare notes with others going through the same things. This is helpful.

Then there is the middle ground. One example of this is my church. There has already been a need for more education on TG issues within the church. I am willing (maybe eager) to do that. That has not changed the way, at least that I can see, that the people of the church relate to me. I believe political activism (of any level) falls pretty much here. While one acknowledges openly one's past, it changes how others relate only by putting a real face on an abstract issue. I have known people who have never been able to talk to a TG and by getting to know me, they realize that we are just ordinary people with the same needs and goal they have; most of these people are now not just T allies, but LGBT allies. It was an unexpected, but pleasant outcome.

So activism does have to mean marching on the capital; it doesn't have to mean burning bras. Sometimes activism is as simple as letting someone else get to know you and your life. Stealth is not really all that important; life has a way of sorting out where and when "hiding" works or is needed. Besides, my experience is that stealth, like grief, is something for the "sufferer" to get over rather than everyone else.