Have you ever wondered what it might feel like when you spend every single day with the same people, yet they do not know one of the biggest things about you?
For me it is a very delicate and somewhat humorous situation. What many of us do is called stealthing or being stealth, which basically means that I live my life at school with no one knowing that I am transgender. It is a blessing because in order to stealth, you must pass decently well. However, sometimes with blessings, there are curses, too.
In order to stay stealth, there are many things that I, or trans guys in general, have to worry about that others do not. Every morning I have to triple check my attire to make sure that my binder is not showing, or that I am flat enough, or that my jeans do not look too tight/loose. Then, I have to triple check again, but this time carrying a 15-pound backpack. Next, I will re-adjust my shirt about 12 times until I find a position that makes me look as flat as possible. This also goes on every time that I have to pick up and set down my backpack (seven to ten times). Each time is done carefully, facing away from people, and as incognito as possible.
After actually arriving to school, things get a little more stressful. It often comes down to simple stuff such as having to tie a lab apron around yourself and hoping that no one can see your chest while your arms are behind your back. Or, maybe it’s presenting in front of the class because you feel that compared to other guys your age you sound three years younger and are growing the facial hair of a 14-year-old, despite almost being an adult. All of these things go along with just wanting to “fit in” as much as possible. Because, even though you get the almighty male privilege, you constantly worry about being seen as different. Don’t get me wrong. Being different is not bad by any means. It is actually good, but in all honesty, I am just trying to hurry up until graduation and move on in my life. This tends to be nearly impossible when going to school with hormone-raged teenagers.
Of course, the biggest obstacle that comes with being stealth is using the restroom. Often, there are two to three urinals and one stall in each bathroom. And with my luck, the only time I had to use the restroom during school, every single stall in the accessible guys bathrooms was taken. So then, all you saw was this random guy walking through the halls, going in and out of bathrooms, helplessly hoping that there was one stall available somewhere – anywhere. I am sure some teachers thought that I was trying to skip. At the end of the day, I just looked back and laughed. Now, I know not to drink too much before school.
So, I am sure you have thought, “Why even go stealth in the first place?” Well for one, I often see a drastic change in how others see me. Male Privilege is now something that I am used to experiencing, but in the past when others around me knew, I was treated as if I was some kind of new species.
Disclaimer: This is my experience and does not mean it will be the same for everyone else.
Also, when others know, they often assume that they now know my life struggle, political preferences, and favorite Netflix shows. Some of these things may be true, but others are often dramatically incorrect. And, before you ask, I have not watched the last two seasons of “Orange is the New Black,” and yes, I have heard about the show “Transparent.”
Stealthing is not something that anyone should fear. Yes, I am transgender and I will always be, but that is not the only thing about me. I am history enthusiast and an animal lover. I love the desert and playing sports. I enjoy politics and a type of music that is considered “millennial.” My opinion is that stealthing tends to have its downsides, but sometimes it is better to just be known by who you are and not what you are. And, for me, it’s worth it.