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Written by an Anonymous Trans Woman (She/her)

When a trans person doesn’t tell anyone that they’re trans, and lives their life ‘passing’ as a cisgender person, that’s called being stealth. 

A lot of cisgender people I know take issue with trans people being stealth, even a few trans people do. Apparently, there’s something unauthentic about being stealth. You’re ‘hiding your true self’ from the world around you, from your friends, your family. 

What I think these people don’t realise is that, for a lot of trans people, it’s unsafe to be out as trans. Especially for brown trans women like me.

I’m lucky enough that I’ve been medically transitioning for so long that I’m not ‘clockable’, which is here used as a term to describe when people ‘can tell’ when you look trans, (you can’t, by the way.) I’m lucky enough that when I moved to Wellington, my name and gender legally changed, I didn’t have to tell people that I’m trans. So I didn’t. I never have, except for a few very close friends. 

You see, in my hometown, I was bullied ruthlessly for being transgender. I have been called so many names, and I have been beaten a few times, too. Once, I nearly lost a tooth. I’m not tall, I’m not strong. I’m the girliest girl you could possibly meet. And I’m so grateful that people like that can’t tell I’m trans anymore, because as much as I love being trans, as much as I love our community, if I am out I feel unsafe. I know that the world has changed a lot and that there are so many more accepting people compared to transphobes now, but that doesn’t change my anxiety. 

It’s a privilege for me to be able to be stealth. I know a lot of trans people, specifically trans women, who can’t be for a multitude of different reasons. I’m so glad that I’m able to be safe, and yet my heart breaks for them, because I wish they could, too. 

It is not a trans person’s responsibility to disclose to you whether or not they are trans. And if you ‘couldn’t tell’ someone was trans when you first met, don’t bring that up to them. Somebody ‘looking’ trans implies that trans people have a stereotype, and sure, there are definitely stereotypes, but I assure you that telling someone that you didn’t know they are trans doesn’t make them feel good about themself. In fact, it probably makes them feel uncomfortable. 

I look like a beautiful brown woman, I am a beautiful brown woman. I just also happen to be trans. I live my life authentically, I’m not hiding my true self from anyone. My being trans is a big part of me, but not so big that everyone has to know. 

I’m really sorry to cisgender people who feel so insecure within their own gender presentation that they just have to know whether or not people are trans. I assure you, there’s quite a few of us you’ve missed. x


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