Visibility

posted January 7th, 2014, 6:26 pm


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January 7th, 2014, 6:30 pm

LittleLynn84

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This page was not originally in the script, but this is something I've been kinda wanting to talk about for a while in this comic.

For those less familiar with the terminology, "stealth" is when a transgender person is just trying to blend in. They only reveal that they are trans maybe to their very closest family, friends, lover (if that). But anyone else, including most friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, etc, will probably never ever know. Mainly, it's about a desire of the individual to not have to deal with prejudices/questions/etc that can come with being transgender. Both Rain and Jessica would be classified as stealth.

Trans folk who are "visible" are essentially the opposite. While they aren't exactly going up to random strangers and outing themselves to anyone who will listen (well, some might), they are usually out to their extended families, friends, co-workers, etc. In short, anyone they might see in their everyday life is probably aware of the individual's trans status (with maybe one or a few people strategically left out of the loop because for one reason or another). Vincent is very open to everyone, and thus, visible. Incidentally, I'm also visible (kinda hard not to be when you write a trans-themed comic publicly accessible to pretty much the whole world that has your name and photo attached to it). XD

The reason I wanted to address this, is that I have actually noticed a lot of in-fighting in the trans community over this. Visible people claiming being stealth is "transphobic". Stealth people claiming visibility "outs everyone". Thankfully, not everyone is like this (I really don't see it much here, but I've seen and heard it elsewhere more than I care for) It all rubs me the wrong way. As Vincent says here, trans folk have to work extra hard to be able to express themselves the way they want to. And I think it's kind of horrible to go through that and then try to tell someone else how they should live their lives.

With that in mind, I don't exactly want to tell anyone what to do, but can I make a humble suggestion and request that we all just "live and let live?" The reality is that if being stealth is what makes you comfortable, be stealth. If you'd rather be an open book with no secrets, be visible. There are pros and cons to both, so I don't feel like there's one that's literally better than the other. So just be you, let others be them.

Maybe this isn't even that big of a problem. Maybe I just happen to know the handful, but it's been bugging me, so I just wanted to say my piece. Discussions, as always, are absolutely welcome.


©2004-2014
Rain, all characters and all other aspects of the story are copyright material belonging to me.

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July 21st, 2017, 7:43 pm

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January 7th, 2014, 6:38 pm

Spooks

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I've always been on the fence about being stealth vs being visible. Right now I'm visible, but more from necessity than anything else (I'm an FtM that only just started hormones and basically I don't pass well. It's funny, I remember when you were just starting hormones. I was so happy for you, but so jealous too [in a positive way I swear]. And now I've started HRT too- it's almost surreal).

There's a part of me that would like nothing more than to be stealth and not have to worry about dealing with people being prejudiced and/or harassing me. But there's another part of me that thinks being stealth would just make it worse if I was outed by accident.

And then, of course, there's the fact that I am very much for eliminating transphobia and the best way to do that is by educating people. Harder to do that if I'm stealth.

But yeah, I'd never dream of telling anyone else the should or shouldn't be stealth/visible. You're too right, we work to hard to be ourselves to be told (or tell others) how to live our lives.

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January 7th, 2014, 6:53 pm

LittleLynn84

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@Spooks:

Much congratulations in starting HRT! :D It feels weird to think it was already over a year ago. But if it means anything, it's going really well, so I'm sure you'll be fine in your transition as well. ^_^

And I agree with your other points. As you said, being an advocate for transgender rights and educating about the process, experience and more is very difficult when stealth. It's one of the reasons I'm visible.

The other, if I may be honest, is that I used to be stealth, and it always felt so stressful to have to hide it. I would feel like everyone was silently staring and judging, and I spent so much time worrying about how I'd react if they found out. I think I handle the occasional derogatory comment or invasive question better than I do my own neuroses though, so it's personally a load off my mind.

Again, I'm speaking purely for myself, but that's why. ^_^

Anyway, that got tangential. XD Congrats again!

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January 7th, 2014, 7:00 pm

Hannah (Guest)

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I think that "live and let live" is a pretty smart philosophy. Of course what that means primarily is that it should be left to the individual to decide whether they're out or not, or whether they want to "reveal" themselves to others, and the fact that some people do not understand this has presented some serious issues as of late in my eyes. For example, one big problem which arises with the whole visibility thing and individuals who want to force the subject, in my mind, is that you end up with people like Coy (a trans* child whose story has been plastered EVERYWHERE lately for the sake of spreading "awareness"). She is somebody whose entire life is going to be spent in the spotlight, she will never have a choice of whether she wants to blend or not because so many people know her thanks to both her parents, and a bunch of people from the trans* community who feel/felt the need to latch onto her as a pintsize champion and example of how young these feelings can arise. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that spreading awareness is important, but I don't think it's appropriate at ALL to use children for that sake.

When it comes down to it, I have no problem with whatever people want to do with their own lives, whether they want to yell it to the whole world or be relatively conservative about it, but that's just it, it should be left to the individual to decide and it is NOBODY'S business to go around telling others UNLESS they have the explicit permission of said individual to do so.


Anyway, personally I guess I'm a little of both. I don't really feel like it's most people's business, but I have absolutely no problem telling people if I feel like I can trust them (I also don't particularly go out of my way to hide it if somebody guesses and asks me politely out of curiosity). However, I reserve the privilege of sharing such information for myself and really, really don't like anybody else feeling like they can just go around telling anybody they feel like. That said, there is one exception to that rule, and that's if said person they're telling happens to be trans* themselves and they could use somebody to talk too who has a bit more experience with the matter. In other words, if I can help then go ahead and share, but otherwise shut up about it, it's nobody else' business but my own unless I want it to be. :P

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January 8th, 2014, 12:17 pm

Jakie Raven (Guest)

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I really needed to hear this. I am a 20 year old transsexual woman struggling with being open at school. I am really sick of pretending to be a man with my family, let alone in my daily life. It's really reassuring seeing that other people, even fictional ones, share the same thoughts as myself

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January 8th, 2014, 12:34 pm

webcomicMarie

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I've thought a lot about this over the years. I've been stealth for maybe 8 years now? (mtf, post-op) When I first transitioned I was out, simply because all my friends had to be told if I was going to try to keep a relationship with them. This didn't turn out very well for me. I lost most of my friends. Of course, 10 years ago there was less awareness of the condition. Even the friends I kept looked at me somewhat differently. To the guys I was outwardly female, but not dating material. To the women I was just somewhat less than them, like an imitation. And while they wouldn't say this outright, things they discussed, how I was treated, etc, spoke volumes of where I was in their group.

At some point I got really sick of being treated like that, and decided to move away as a completely clean break from them and start over in a new place. I went "deep stealth". Didn't tell anyone, ever. Made new friends, had boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. I got a new job, generally lived my life.

This worked out well for awhile until the IRS unwittingly outed me to work. That's a long story but the basics was that (male name) didn't file taxes because (female name) did, and this confused the IRS. The HR department handled the situation badly, and I ended up being outed to everyone at my work. Juicy gossip I guess. I suppose I probably could have sued about it, but that would have just put more spotlight on it. Boyfriend found out from one of my work friends, felt betrayed, broke up with me. I ended up moving again to get away from it all.

I got a little sidetracked there, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think either is a really good choice. On one side you have people that treat you differently simply because of what you are. On the other hand keeping the secret from everyone can be thought of as a betrayal if anyone ever finds out. This can even lead to blackmail or physical abuse.

I do have hope that this will change though. In the past 10 years people in general have been much more exposed to transsexuals and are becoming more accepting. So maybe some day in the future I can be out and not be judged by it.

Much of the reason for that are because of younger transsexuals on the news fighting for their rights. I can remember when basically all the spokespersons for transsexuals were literally very old MTFs transitioning late in life that could not pass and probably never would. This sadly had a negative effect on the general public because trans people were thought of as that stereotype (what looked to the general public as cross-dressing old men who wanted to use the women's bathroom). Sadly, while Coy (mentioned above) may never get the ability to make her own choice about being out or stealth, I believe she does create positive support for transsexuals in general, and that will eventually lead to widespread acceptance so people like me don't have to make that choice.

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January 8th, 2014, 5:38 pm

Narkota16

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wow I feel like an alien now XD I'm not transgender or even an adult :P
But it is interesting to hear everyones perspective... I guess I can't really add much ^^;

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January 8th, 2014, 11:16 pm

Spooks

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@Narkota16: Aww, don't feel alienated! Personally I think it's awesome that you're not transgender but still enjoy Rain. :) I can't speak for Lynn, but I would imagine half the point of Rain is to help those who aren't transgender understand the trans experience- and see that beneath it all we're all just people, same as anyone else. Not to mention, it speaks volumes about how well the story is written, that non-trans people can relate to Rain well enough to enjoy it.

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January 8th, 2014, 11:42 pm

toot (Guest)

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*Applaudes*

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January 9th, 2014, 7:02 pm

Narkota16

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@Spooks: *high fives*

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December 30th, 2014, 3:13 pm

Kimiko (Guest)

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I too got the feeling that being visible is much more common nowadays. Maybe it's just the folks I hang out with online (funny, that; I didn't set out for the trans/queer corner, but somehow that's where I ended up) being young and most of them still transitioning though.

Personally, I'm like, why did you go through all that trouble and then undo some of your hard work by being out to everyone? From experience, it makes a big difference whether people know you're trans before they get to know you versus never or only later learning about your past. Even if you act exactly the same, they will act differently because of knowing that detail. Maybe it's less of a problem if you're really pretty and feminine like Rain and Jessica though, but I kinda doubt that.

No offense though. It's everyone's personal choice, and I can see the pros to not having to worry about acidentally outing yourself.

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January 6th, 2016, 3:24 pm

Matt (Guest)

Don't see the problem

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I'm personally a young, stealth ftm (of course, my friends and family know I'm trans but when I meet new people I don't let on) but if someone wants to be visible -- which seems more common among young t-people these days -- then that's fine by me.

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