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The Stealthy Transsexual Woman

 

Definitions

Before going any further, we need define what is meant by stealth, I suggest:

"The process of hiding one's past so that there is less available evidence of having been in a different gender and social role."

 Going 'stealth' is the typically the final stage of the full time transition by a transwoman who believes that she can successfully pass as a woman - for example changing documents in to her new female name and getting a new job as a woman.  

Going 'deep stealth' is a more dramatic step which requires eliminating all possible references and links to a former male life.  It is typically sought by transwomen in the public eye (model, actress, reality star, ...) but also by some transwomen who have lived in the changed role for many years (married, good career, politician, ...) and now wish to complete their life known only as a woman.

Passing
This is another important definition.

In the context of a male-to-female transgender woman, "passing" means that when you meet someone, they accept you as a woman and treat you as woman - often termed the "passing privilege".  Conversely, if they have doubts about you being a woman, the treatment can be very different, even hostile.  But "passing" comes in various degrees, as a minimum it means that you can go shopping without being identified as a man; a significant step up is where acquaintances and work colleagues always identify you as a woman (this equates to "stealth"); and finally there's ultimate level of "deep stealth", where very close friends and even your husband never doubt that you are transwoman. 

A continuous risk faced by the "passing" woman is suddenly failing to pass and being "read" as a man.  It might be embarrassing to be read by a shop assistant whilst buying women's clothing, and traumatic to be read and confronted by another woman whilst in the Ladies, but it can be positively dangerous to be read by an angry male lover when when becoming intimate.  In one horrendous case, 25-year old Russian transwoman Nika Surgutskaya (left) was brutally murdered and dismembered by her date when he realised during sexual intercourse that she had had sex-change surgery.

The opposite to stealth is sometimes called being "out" - where you openly admit to, and perhaps even advertise, that you are transgender.  Stealthy women may also be "outed", where someone discovers that they are transgender, for example via an old school photo.

The rest of this article is orientated towards transwomen who transition as adults (age 18+), and is inherently less relevant to boy-to-girls that transition at a young age.  For someone raised as a boy who reaches manhood, subsequently passing as successfully as a woman is not easy.  A sad indication of this is that a whole genre of popular films (usually comedies) has become based on situations involving a "man" trying to pass as a "woman" - I Was a Male War Bride, Some like it Hot, Tootsie, Mrs Doubtfire, Victor/Victoria, He's My Girl.  Even when the man/woman is extremely feminine in appearance (e.g. Ellen Barkin in Switch) her masculine sounding voice / speak / actions / manners / movements quickly lead to "comedy".   
 


Professor Lynn Conway was stealth for 30 years.  In 1998 she decided to come "out" when a researcher began delving in to some of her old work at IBM.

Implications of Going Stealthy

While superficially desirable, stealth and in particular deep stealth, is extra-ordinarily difficult for the adult male-to-female transsexual to achieve.  Deep stealth means:

  • Changing all documentation from educational qualifications through to driving licence in to your new identity.  Vital but difficult documents to change are your birth certificate and passport

  • Shredding (hiding is far too risky) all evidence of your pre-transition life - photo's, school reports, diaries, letters, certificates, references ...

  • Moving home, as far away as possible from people who met you as a man

  • Cutting off friends, acquaintances and even close family who knew you as a man

  • Closing all old social media accounts

  • Diligently searching the Internet and deleting (or requesting the deletion of) every pre-transition reference that you can find  - articles, posts, pictures's, etc


  • Model and actress Pascale Ourbih  (born Mohand Ourbih) transitioned and went stealth when she moved to Paris, age 18.  (Algeria)

  • Adapting your pre-transition life story in to a consistent and convincing story, challenging yourself against routine questions such as "How old were you when you had your first period?", "What did you do for you Debs?", "Who was your first boyfriend?", "Can I please have a photo of you when young for my school project?"

  • Closing off every old identity trail that you can - bank accounts, memberships, subscriptions, stores, etc.

  • Asking organisations what information - if any - they hold about you (EU regulations permit such data requests for a small fee)

  • Requesting organisations to delete your old records (EU regulations again allow this "right to be forgotten" in many circumstances)

  • Contacting all organisations (e.g. government, utilities, medical, education, professional bodies, ...) that have records about you that you can't close and ensuring that they are updated.  Unfortunately they will often keep details in their files which will remain a source of risk

  • There's many ways of being outed!Re-writing your CV to include only admissible material consistent with your stealth status, probably with a much reduced job history, references and qualifications.  A potential employer may want to verify any claim made, so great care must be taken to ensure that all the information provided is safe to include - or of an unverifiable nature.  A lack of usable references can be a huge problem post transition.

  • Changing jobs, which may mean changing careers and accepting a far less well-paid or responsible position.

and all this is absolutely pointless unless:

  • Your appearance is undoubtedly that of a woman - and not necessarily that of a tall and skinny model, being short and dumpy may be more convincing

  • Behaviourally and socially you are also totally convincing as a woman

  • Your voice is not a male give-away (a common problem for otherwise extremely passable transwomen)

  • You never reveal your past to anyone under any circumstances - this can be extra-ordinarily difficult, particularly in the early months after transition where circumstances may conspire against you

  • You maintain your cover story at all times, you must believe it and it must be more than second nature - you can't afford ever afford to let your guard down.  For example, an inconsistency or slip up at 2:00 am in the morning when both tired and drunk is all too easy to make, but it may come to haunt you and prove impossible to recover from

  • There is no discoverable give-away evidence on the internet (often posted by yourself!)

  • In an emergency you instinctively react as a woman - no matter how tired and befuddled you are, e.g. "men to the left, women to the right ..."

It may be necessary to take risks at first, but long-term it will be necessary to have 'bottom surgery' to ensure that you can:

  • Stop tucking and taping your penis - and suffering UTI's and other problems from avoiding trips to the ladies toilets

  • Pass naked as a woman, e.g. at non-intrusive medicals, security body searches, in changing rooms, or when having to share a hotel room with another woman

  • Sustain an intimate relationship as a woman.  The alternative being never to enter one, which is not the preferred option for most transwomen.


Unfortunately learning how to pass is not as much fun as picture of three transwomen might indicate.

A transvestite who occasionally tries to pass in public can limit himself to occasional night time outings, or other circumstances where his chances of success are maximised.  But a transitioned transsexual woman faces ruthless and critical examination at all times and in all circumstances:- day and night, at work and at play, fresh or tired, posh frock or casual.  For basic physical reasons, many male-to-female transsexual women will never be able to pass consistently, while for many others it takes several years of hormone treatment, expensive and extensive femisation  surgery, and a lot of hard won experience after transition before they can pass convincingly and confidently at all times - only at this point is going stealth a real option. 
 

19 year old Jamie-Michelle.  A brutal reality is that the younger a transwoman transitions, the more passable she will be.

While transsexuals considering transition often react with annoyance about being told how important age is, it simply cannot be ignored if stealth is an eventual objective.  Rare indeed is the transgirl who passes convincingly from the first day of her transition - and she's almost certainly under 18 years of age.  At the Phuket Plastic Surgery Clinic in Thailand, the seventy-nine Thai MTF transsexuals who received SRS during the period 1997-2000 had an average age of just 26 years (the oldest was 45) whereas that of the sixty-six American's was 50 years, and several were 65.  An article by Dr Sanguan Kunaporn in the Journal of Asian Sexology brutally notes that "Thai M-F transsexuals seeking SRS are younger. They generally look and behave very natural as genetic women.  Because of this, it is obvious to any non-medical person that they are qualified candidates for the surgery.  On the other hand, most of the American transsexuals come out when they are much older, many do not pass so well as females." 

 

Whether or not to go Stealth

 
A former shemale porn star who will always be haunted by on-line evidence, e.g. this page

Many transwomen never go stealth, the reasons vary but can include:

  • An inability to pass completely convincingly 24x7

  • An unwillingness to break existing career or family ties

  • An unwillingness to make the many sacrifices that going stealth implies

  • An unwillingness to accept the constant fear of being "read" or the risk of being "outed"

  • A genuine desire to be open about being transgender

  • Just too much evidence of their past in the public domain

On the other hand, transsexual women go stealth because:

  • They hate the constant observation, gossip and 'behind the back' comments about their appearance and life as a known transwoman

  • They have suffered from abuse or worse as a transsexual - before, during and after their transition

  • They want to completely separate themselves from their male past

  • They have embarked upon a female centric career (usually modelling or acting) where being outed as born a man would be a disaster

  • They have entered in to a relationship that an admission of being transgender would endanger
  • Pressure from their partner who knows that she is transgender.  Sadly many men fear being labelled homosexual if their female partner is outed as being a transwoman


After transition, many transwomen are unable to resist posting on social media a flattering before and after photo of themselves.  Years later this may come back to haunt them. 

Going "deep" stealth is truly difficult, and something only a very small proportion of transwomen successfully manage.  A particular problem is having to avoid contact with old friends and even relatives - attending reunions or family events would be highly dangerous.  The consequences of this can be quite heart rendering, The Transsexual Empire by Janice Raymond (published 1979) may have many faults, but to support her arguments she provides anonymised case studies obtained via transgender clinics.  One example describes a man in his 20's who abandoned his wife and their young children when he decided she was a woman.  Able to pass as a woman after sexual reassignment surgery, she went stealth and a few years later met and married a man.  She adopted his children from a previous marriage as their step-mother - without any of them knowing about her past life as a man.  Whilst the book focuses on feminist concerns about a transsexual man adopting the stereotypical female role of housewife and mother, there is an acknowledgement of the pain that the subject suffered from being unable to see the children that she had fathered grow up, and probably eventually marry and have her grandchildren.


Corey Rae (left), age 25, and partner Amber Heard, age 33, at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival

Transgender woman Corey Rae has a very interesting website covering her journey from teenage boy to a 'lesbian trans activist' (her words), and girlfriend of an A-list Hollywood actress.  A few quotes:

  • When it was time for me to transition, it happened naturally ...  on the morning after my 19th birthday

  • I survived my freshman year [at university] without any clothing malfunctions, uncomfortable naked bathroom encounters, or hook-ups gone wrong

  • [The next year] my hormone changes led to ... wild /semi-regrettable one-night stands

  • [Age 21] I got a vagina with no major complications

  • Post surgery ... I felt no need to [fear] being "outed" any longer. I acted ... overly flirtatious

  • I decided to be stealth so I could be treated as a "normal" woman

  • I started to work as a hostess at one of the most exclusive NYC clubs, The Box

  • Two years post surgery ... I am at peace with being transgender ... I have to believe that I was meant to be a pioneer for the transgender community


The 27 year old Chevalier d'Eon successfully passed as a woman for a mission to Russia - long before hormones and feminisation surgery.

 

Passing and Stealth

There is considerable debate within the transgender community about the number and percentage of transsexual people who actually succeed in "going stealth".  Credible statistics in peer reviewed medical studies don't exist - so we are reduced to considering unsubstantiated claims that range from a majority of post-SRS women to a few percent. 

What is certain is that the number of transsexual women who go stealth is directly proportional to the number who can pass convincingly as a woman at all times, this being an essential pre-requisite.  However [unhelpfully] the proportion of transwomen who can pass is also hotly disputed, with the additional difficulty that in surveys transwomen tend to overestimate their passability - many thinking that they can pass when they are immediately out'ed by observers in very basics studies conducted, e.g. photos shown in a college project.


Worrying about passing is rarely an issue for transsexual girls transitioning at a young age, such as 14 year old Johanna.

It's almost impossible to over emphasise how much transitioning as a teenager (or younger) immensely aids passability and subsequent stealth.  Circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that most Western (Caucasian) women transitioning full time after age 17 struggle to pass as female in daily life, and this becomes almost universal by age 30.  The march of Father Time is particularly brutal for transwomen.

Of course any transwoman who has succeeded in going deep stealth is hardly likely to publicly claim this unless already out'ed, or she deliberately chooses to out herself.  The many follow-up studies of transsexuals post-SRS are thus  skewed by the dropping-out of the most successful and assimilated patients.  Receiving and participating in such a study is the last thing that a women who has gone deep stealth would want.

Almost all transwomen know that their appearance, size, and voice all play a big role in whether they can go the "stealth" route - but human nature being what it is, most women tend to take an over optimistic view of their physical traits.  The early years of the 20th century present a transwomen with many options - a few examples in rough order of probability, cost and risk:


Facial appearance is a very important factor to passing, but not the only one.  Gabrielle Schaffer (USA).
  • Breast augmentation

  • Minor facial feminisation, e.g. rhinoplasty

  • Sex confirmation surgery

  • Major facial feminisation surgery

  • Vocal feminisation surgery

  • Radical skeletal surgery, e.g. rib removal and limb shortening

But it's still not possible to change a person's feet, or hand size - and even a very pretty and petit girl many be completely given away by other factors such as masculine voice.  It is also worth noting here that some well networked transsexual women claim that they have never met another transsexual woman whom they didn't quickly "out" as such in their mind, this is an extreme and rather self-selective example but it does show how difficult totally convincing passing (and thus stealth) can be.   

The Reality Check

 
The left hand picture is OTT, but the reality is that very passable transwomen such as Ha Ri-su (right) are the exceptions. Below are photos posted by two transwomen that are perhaps more reperesentative.

(Above)  Five 30-something transsexual woman having fun in a photo shoot.  Whilst very attractive, Can they pass as women day after day?


(Left) Judith Kerr, once John Kerr, and (above) Susan Watson, once James Watson



Debbie, a young transgirl from the UK.  Clearly passable - but if she had waited another ten years the answer might be different.

Any transwoman seriously thinking of going stealth must be brutally realistic about her passability.  She can start by asking her friends and family to be totally honest about how well she passes - but the answers will have some bias.  When passing in public she should be alert for any odd looks, signs of puzzlement, sly glances, or whispering.  A great final test is working part-time as a woman for a few weeks in a local convenience store, most are always desperate for staff.


Male? Female? Trans-something?

The limited available evidence suggests that about 50% of post-SRS women claim to be able to pass, but the real number is far lower, particularly in the continuous, long-term, 7x24 context required for stealth.  The corollary is that more than half of all transsexual women cannot pass successfully, some being read instantly.  Most of these women accept the situation and make the best of it, but some become seriously depressed, perhaps even suicidal, when they realise that they fail to pass - often after extensive and irreversible surgery.  Other transwoman refuse to face facts and remain deluded about their ability to pass - sometimes to the extent that may become dangerous.  More positively, years on hormones. additional surgery (particularly FFS) and experience will move some transwomen over the line from "can't pass" to "can pass".

Circumstantial evidence suggests that most transsexual women who can pass will eventually go stealth with the aim of being "assimilated" in to society as unquestionably a woman.  One  report calculated that in 2001 the UK had about 5000 openly transsexual post-SRS women plus another 3000 (i.e. 38% of the community) living in stealth.  However the stealth percentage seems high, anecdotal evidence suggests that perhaps only 10-20% of western transsexual women ever reach the stage where they can pass convincingly and consistently as a woman over a long period - with a very strong bias in favour of the relatively few (at least in Europe) women who transition when young


(Above) A montage of wonderful transsexual women of all ages - some more passable than others.

Stealth and Sexual Orientation

Transsexual women with a heterosexual orientation (i.e. sexually attracted primarily to men) often tend towards stealth if they can pass well enough.  The corollary is that they also eventually find themselves entering in to a committed relationship with a man, with even marriage becoming a possibility.  

The stealthy transwoman is soon trying to walk a fine line between honesty and deceit.  For instance - when should she inform her lover of her past history as a male?  A few women hold the view that the other partner need never be told; a larger number hold that a partner should be told upon first meeting, while probably a majority believe that a partner need be told only when the relationship becomes serious, i.e., when the "L word" ("love") is uttered - with the caveat that if the transwoman senses the partner will react extremely negatively or violently, the relationship should be broken off with no revelation.


"Ivana" was born male, but did her sexual partners need to know that?

A relationship with a man tends to pull the transwoman away from any open acknowledgement of her transsexuality and male past, if only because social stigma attaches to an alleged heterosexual man once it becomes known that his girlfriend or wife was once a male.  Many passable transsexual women thus hide their past from partners and even their husband, feeling (unfortunately often correctly) that the relationship may not survive this becoming known.  One study (Sörensen, 1981a) found that 10 out of 17 transwomen claimed to have been able to kept their SRS a secret from male partners, while another indicated a perhaps more plausible ratio of 13 out of 42.

Dr John Money has described how a happily married housewife concealed her sex-change from her husband of seven years, explaining their lack of children as being due to medical problems that had rendered her infertile, apparently he had no suspicion of the true situation.  Another transsexual woman, 'Anna Taylor', lived in deep stealth from 18, only her mother and brother were aware of her male past.  When she had SRS, she opted for the colon section procedure as the ability to have sexual intercourse as a woman was a high priority.  She describes how her relationship with her first husband, Paolo, developed as follows:


Anna and Paulo on their wedding day

"He was Italian and very good looking.  When we eventually started seeing each other I tried to tell him before we slept together.  I asked him how important children were to him because I was sterile.  If he wanted a family there was no point to our relationship.  He said I was more important to him than children and we could always adopt.  But I told him I'd need a brain transplant to do that because I'm not at all maternal.  He said he still loved me and when we finally made love, I thought I was going to hit the ceiling.  He was very experienced, very romantic - and very sexy.  So I told him I'd had a genetic problem when I was younger and had had an operation to correct it.  He said, 'These are childhood things. Why do we need to talk about it now?' I thought he'd understood what I was trying to say." 

Anna was married to Paolo for 13 years before he sadly died of cancer; he never knew his wife was a transsexual.  A few years later Anna met Steve:

"We were married for five years and although ... I knew the marriage wasn't lawful, I kept quiet.  It never crossed my mind to tell Steve - what purpose would it serve?"

In the balance between personal happiness and revealing "the whole truth and nothing but the truth", many transsexual women try to choose happiness - but not always with the result they expect.


Judy and her first husband.

Judy Lee had SRS surgery at age 24 and then faced the challenge of "at what point do you say to a man 'Hi, My name is Judy, I'm a transsexual'?".  Very passable as a woman she  decided to go stealth not to tell all and a year later she married a man who was unaware of her background.  But Judy was unable to cope with stress that keeping him in ignorance caused her, and she eventually sought a divorce whilst leaving him unaware of the real problem.  Judy then had another unsuccessful marriage with opposite problem - her husband was only interested in her admission to being transgender.  After 20 years living as woman, including two failed marriages, Judy transitioned back to living as a man.


Entering in to a serious relationship with a man drives many passable transsexual women in to going stealthy.


Plans by Scotland Yard Detective Steve Longshore to marry his girlfriend Lisa Webb were wrecked in 1995 when The Mirror newspaper revealed that she was a transsexual.  The paper got the lead because unknown to Steve she was working as an 'escort' girl and said too much to a client one night.

 
Kira entered the Miss Schutzenfest 2005 beauty contest, won, and then was quickly outed.

 
One of Kato Sato's earliest fashion shoots - for
Sky Girl magazine. Although pre-SRS, she modelled for nearly two years as a girl, eventually outing herself before someone else did.

Being "Outed"

Most transgender women just want to successfully live a normal life in their preferred gender, and this requires not being identified as having "changed sex".  However a risk that all transsexual women who have gone stealth face is being outed.  This can happen for many reasons, including: poor physical passability; poor social passability; bad documentation; sheer bad luck; ... etc.



A man chatting up a transwoman during a carnival in Spain.  She's pre-SRS so faces serious risks if things go much further.

A transitioned but still pre-SRS women obviously faces many additional risks of being out'ed because of her genetalia:- security checks; medical emergencies; groping men; in the changing room; accidents in the pool, perverts with miniature cameras, poor tucking ... even an erection for those not on a high dose hormone regime! 

A good example of this is Japanese transsexual Kato Sato.  Born in 1998 she claims to have begun hormones when just 15.  At age 18 she moved town, changed her name and got a job as a female shop assistant.  She was quickly discovered by a modelling agency and within months was working as a successful fashion model, she also soon became a TV presenter.  However, she still hadn't had SRS and it was impossible to conceal the anatomy of her "bottom" from colleagues in the back stage dressing room.  Rumours that she was a man began to spread and finally in September 2010 she confirmed on TV and via her blog that "I was born a boy".
 

Jahna Steele was voted Las Vegas's "Sexiest Showgirl" in 1991, and out'ed the following year.  She sadly passed away in January 2008, age just 49.

Even if the woman has had SRS, passing and not being outed is getting ever more difficult.  Being post-SRS and reasonably female in appearance and behaviour is certainly no longer enough.

Srta is an exceptionally elegant and beautiful woman, but not "passable". 

Until perhaps the 1980's, if a person's name was 'Helen' and she wore lipstick and a dress, she would be assumed to be a woman even if she also had an oddly deep voice, rather large hands and not the best complexion.  Things have changed since then - people have become increasingly educated (if only subconsciously) on the signature signs of a transsexual.   We are getting close to the stage where most people know a transsexual woman - be her family, friend, work colleague or an acquaintance.  Another real problem in recent years is the regular appearance of transsexual women on television in reality programmes, soaps and on talk shows.  As a result, some transwomen who have passed successfully for years or decades have been reduced to tears on finding themselves "outed" within minutes or even seconds of entering a room of strangers.


Carol Marra quietly worked as a minor model and journalist for several years.  Age 26, Trip magazine front-paged that she was a transsexual.

If a transwoman is able to pass the brutal and rigorous initial contact with a stranger as an unquestioned female then a breathing space has been won.  But long term passing is often about the small things - things that are second nature for someone brought up as girl but entirely strange for a man - things that Hollywood often has a field day over when a man impersonates a woman in a comedy.  If you appear awkward in heels, struggle to touch-up your makeup, don't recognise Channel No. 5, ... well cumulatively over weeks it might become strange to people.   Perhaps an extreme example of living the detail is Roberta Close, one would-be lover was disconcerted to discover that it was her 'period' and she had a tampon in her vagina, before disposal she would stain it with chicken blood to simulate menstrual bleeding.


South Korean model and actress Ha Ri-Su was outed when a former school friend recognised her from TV appearances.

It's become extra-ordinarily difficult for a transwoman to pass long-term as a Cis-women when living with a partner.  The need to use vaginal lubricants, the discovery of dilators, packs of hormones, surgical scars, infertility as a woman ... eventually the partner may suspect something.  A tremendous danger is hanging yourself by your own rope, an inconsistent and every changing story about your pre-transition life can cumulatively cause great problems with a friend or partner.  Getting drunk is another huge danger - in the early months after transition you can make stupid mistakes such going in to the wrong toilets which may be picked up by more sober observers.  Even long term, the danger of committing a horrendous disaster such as starting a story "when I was a boy ...". increases dramatically.

 

Born brothers,
Margo and  Madelyn did not go stealth after transitioning in their teens, despite being completely passable.  It will interesting to see their situation in a decade's time, e.g. after entering a serious relationship. 

Another huge problem is trail of "evidence" that we all leave as we go through our lives, the volume is immense.... thousands of photos (and not just those taken by our own friends and family), school records, financial details, medical records, home videos, tax records, computer records, newspaper articles, etc. 

A 20th century problem is the internet.  Before transition many TS girls have established a social medial  web presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.  These may even contain 'smoking gun' posts such as "Three months on hormones!"  After transitioning many transwomen close their accounts as they settle in to their new life and move from openness about being transgender to privacy and perhaps eventually deep stealth - but archived records will still exist.

There are also the thousands of people we meet over the years – some of whom have uncanny memories in my experience. 

A very difficult problem is friends.  Many transwoman develop close relationships with homosexual men, or other transwomen that struggle to pass.  After transitioning it is very difficult to cut-off good friends, but also being seen in their company can be disastrous.

When we transition to female, its impossible to delete, destroy or alter all that prior evidence, some will always remain to act as a potential pointer to our transsexuality. 

A Few Examples of Outing

25-year old Jamie Dee (born James) was confident of her passability after two years transitioned and extensive facial feminisation surgery.  She was on a night out with her friend Teddy when she was shocked by venue staff repeatedly calling her "Bro" or "Sir".  Jamie was almost certainly out'ed because of her friend's appearance and attire, which led staff to assess that Jamie was also a man. 
 


Jamie Dee. From the left, the photos show her before starting hormones; after
transitioning and FFS; and on the traumatic night.  The photo (right) is of Teddy

Taiwanese transsexual Alicia Liu (Xun Ai) is a good example of how the past can haunt a transsexual.  She transitioned in her teens and had SRS in 2004 - age 18,  She then started to build a career as model and had a big break when she became a regular member of a popular Korean television, but in January 2010 a former school classmate recognised her on TV and posted a photo of her as a boy (Zi Hua) on-line.  Hounded by the media, Alicia had no choice but admit that she was a transsexual woman. 
 

Alicia Liu was out'ed by the school photo (left).  She showed (right) the media an identity card that stated she was "female", but had to admit that she was a male-to-female-transsexual


The elfin-like Liu Shi Han become a huge star in China - after being out'ed as transgender

Chinese transexual Liu Shi Han was born in 1989 as Liu Shuai, she knew she was a girl by age 3.  From age 16, she attended the Hunan Mass Media Vocational Technical College in Changsha in the day, but at night worked in clubs as a pole dancer and "Snake Girl Lan Xi".  After three years she had saved the $10,000 she needed for her SRS, which she had against the wishes of her family. When she returned home from the hospital she was physically beaten and bullied.  She moved to Beijing and soon started to get modelling assignments, and attracted many boyfriends.  Liu soon faced a huge problem for many transsexual women trying to live stealth but becoming well known - a lack of evidence about her childhood.  She had no childhood photos; no video clips; no school reports; no newspaper clips; no examination certificates; no childhood friends or even acquaintances, no social media accounts going back more than a few years.  She tried to hide her early childhood by claiming that she had been adopted at 8 or 9, but in 2010 someone at Tsinghau University in Beijing started to post pictures of her whilst including rumours about her being a boy.  The posts went 'viral' and Liu reluctantly blogged in December 2010 “I did have transsexual surgery. I just wanted to hide my identity and be an ordinary individual. But an anonymous person just wouldn’t let me go, making my privacy public and exposing to the media and public the fact that I can’t give birth to babies.  Now, I admit it."  Ironically the exposure helped her modelling career enormously, and in 2011 she reached super model status in China.

 

28 year old Lauraine (right) and her 22-year old half-sister Lenette in a photo dated 1970.  However a little research reveals that they were born Cary and Burt.

While the risk of being out'ed will diminish over time, it will never go away and may come from any quarter at any time - someone trying to organise a reunion, a medical emergency, background checks by an adoption agency, a company unexpectedly checking old educational qualifications, a revealing letter from the Social Security about pensions, a strange slip of the tongue, a chance meeting with an old friend, a problem at the Registry Office getting a marriage certificate, etc.  For example, half-sisters Lauraine and Lenette had an unexpected problem when a reporter from a small local newspaper knocked on their door after noticing a minor court procedure changing their names - from Cary and Burt.  Born brothers, the two sisters had mutually decided that they were female and transitioned to live full-time as women.  They received medical support from the University of Minnesota and Lauraine had SRS age 26 whilst Lenette followed six months later in 1969, soon after her 21st birthday.  Given the early date, they are probably among the first thousand American post-SRS women.  All went wonderfully well until a year later (1970) when they tried to legalise their new names and status as female. 


In 1997, Jenny Hiloudaki made headlines around the world as the result of a brief relationship with a married man.

An example of unexpected 'bolt from the blue' is Jenny Hiloudaki (born Yiannis).  She transitioned in her early teens with the support of her family, and appeared to be a fairly successful female model when in 1997 a mid-ranking government official - Giorgos Sakellaropoulos - left his wife and family for the then 29 year-old Jenny, after inspecting the brothel that she ran!  A curious journalist started to do a little digging and was not surprised to discover that Jenny had a history as a prostitute - but was surprised to find that she was born a boy and was a post-operative male-to-female transsexual.  After the revelation Giorgos (who had never suspected Jenny pre-SRS past) returned to his forgiving wife, whilst thanks to all the publicity Jenny's modelling career prospered for several years, and she was even voted Greek Woman of the Year 2000!


Brigitte Fell

An example of the type of disaster that can occur from historical records is what happened to Brigitte Fell. She had gone stealth after having SRS in 1996, which just a few family members knew about.  In early 2008 her boyfriend, Garrick Jacobson, was arrested under suspicion of theft and mentioned her name.  The policemen looked up Brigitte's records and discovered that her Sex was given as Male, they then laughingly informed Garrick that “You’re rooting a bloke” and showed him the records.  When released, Garrick broke in to Brigitte's flat and violently attacked her, he later told a court: “I felt disgusted and deceived because the female I’d been with had had a sex change.”  Soon after Zoo magazine appalling featured a photo of her with the headline "Is Your Girlfriend A Bloke?". 

 

Internet and the Social Media
A particularly modern problem is that many transsexual women enjoy a brief moment of fame - intentionally or not.  It's become very unusual to find someone who has not signed up for an account on social media websites and apps such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Whatsapp.  These have become essential to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances, and to progress one's career.  But they are also enormous helpful resources for journalists and researchers, and the bane of many transsexual women trying to go steath.


Japanese celebrities
Kyoko (left) and Mika - the "Kano Sisters" - are highly secretive about their past before about 1997, even about  their birth dates.  It seems unlikely they are half sisters as claimed, one speculation is that Kyoka is a former boyfriend of Mika, another that they are both are transwomen.

Any moment of openness as a transsexual - on the Internet, in a magazine, on TV, etc - can soon be bitterly regretted many years later.  Desperate attempts by transwomen to delete themselves from the Internet are rarely completely successful, their pleas are often being sent to dead email addresses and even years later a simple 'goggle' might still produce damaging hits to no longer maintained websites.  Despite every effort to get revealing materials deleted or destroyed (potentially a counterproductive exercise in itself), many transwomen have a constant nagging fear of being outed because of the potential evidence on the Internet at al; which may one day come back to haunt them. 

As a small example I received in 2003 a mail from Talisa asking me to delete all references to her on this website.  She was attempting to move to deep stealth and her new husband and family had no idea she was a transsexual, but within a couple of years she was out'ed by national newspapers after having an illicit affair with a married male celebrity.


"Top model Lauren had a secret - now she may not have a job" - this South African woman paid a high price when she was "outed".


19 year-old hairdresser Gemma (formerly Anthony) Gee was out'ed by the UK press when she dated the son of a famous football player.  She transitioned age 16 and changed her birth certificate, but friends and colleagues (although not the man in question) were aware of her past.


23-year old transsexual Caroline Cossey
 (stage name Tula) and her sister Pam were the "Page 3" girls in the UK's bestselling The Sun newspaper on 6 April 1978. 


After an increasingly successful career as a model and actress, Caroline (left most in the picture) was famously outed when she became a Bond girl in 1982.

 It's thus become almost impossible for an individual to cover up her past so well that some determined sleuthing wouldn't soon reveal strange discrepancies, inconsistencies, or a peculiar lack of supporting evidence.  For example, a post by proud parents of their son's appearance in a school play can become a ticking time-bomb when a decade later a reporter casually asks a stealthy transwoman where she went to school.  A failure to answer would be strange, an inaccurate answer may be challenged, whilst a truthful answer leads to her being out'd.

Of course, any woman who features regularly in the media will inevitably eventually be seen by old friends or acquaintances.  Over time the chances of at least one of these recognising the voice, mannerisms, facial features, and starting to link them to a man that they used know are very high. 

Some of the most well-known transsexual women had been stealthy when the spotlight of publicity first began to lightly shine upon them, and they were eventually outed, e.g. Caroline Cossey, April Ashley, Amanda Lear and Teddy Quinlivan.  Given the massive public and media interest in famous people this is almost inevitable, and it's a puzzle that so many transgender women attempting to be stealth also actively seek high-profile and very public careers as actresses, models, singers, etc. 

A good example of this is Laura-Alicia (aka Larissa) Summers, born in the UK as Darren Pratt in September 1984 she transitioned during secondary school (age 13-14).  She began her modelling career by appearing, often topless, in cheap lad-mags such as Zoo in 2006 under feature titles such as "real girls".  By mid-2007 she was a regular "page 3" girl for the Daily Star and Daily Sport newspapers and was about to become a Playboy Cyber Girl.  After Larissa sold a story to the News of the World newspaper revealing that she was in a sexual relationship with a member of the English Rugby team, a reporter at the rival Mail newspaper did some digging and discovered that Larissa was a male-to-female transsexual. The News of World then got wind of the story and published its own article outing her just before the Mail.  When Larissa said that "what they had wrote was a load of **** !" there was initially a suspicion that it was all just a PR stunt, however Larissa never denied that she was transgender.  In April 2009 Larissa's official website (now defunct) published a statement that said she had won "very substantial damages" from the newspapers , but there was again no denial that she was transsexual or that she had been born Darren.


Laura (aka Larissa) on
Ex on the Beach, age 30

The outing of Larissa as a transwoman quickly became old news and she was soon again appearing in magazine centrefolds.  Her career probably peaked in 2014 when she appeared in series 3 of the MTV reality program Ex on the Beach - stealth to the uninformed viewer but with a few subtle hints in conversations with other participants.  

In another case, 23 year old Maximilia (aka Avarelle) Cordero probably soon regretted her decision in 2007 to sue billionaire Jeffery Epstein for having “demanded oral sex” and the performance of "bizarre and unnatural sex acts" with her in return for promoting her career when she was "aspiring 16 year-old model" (i.e. still a minor in the USA).  At this time Epstein was a substantial share holder in the Victoria Secrets lingerie chain.  


Maximila / Avarelle / Ava's case against Epstein was not helped by her social media profiles, which included claims to be up to 6 years younger than she actually was!

The New York Post was sufficiently interested in the lawsuit to do some digging and in a series of articles revealed that the pretty young "model" had once been a boy - Maximillian - who had transitioned and started taking female hormones when age 12.  They also discovered that she was born in November 1982, and was actually age 18 or 19 when "repeatedly lured" to Epstein's mansion.  The NY Post also found no evidence that Maximilia had had SRS.

Maximilia's case was further not helped by her admitting that she was "known professionally as Ava" at the time of claimed incident with Jeffrey, and also that she had previously lost a similar case.

A decade later there was an avalanche of revelations about very serious sexual misconduct by Jeffrey Epstein, and this probably led to his suicide in 2019.  It now seems that many of Maximilia's claims against Jeffrey Epstein were correct, if she had been a more credible witness in 2007 then many young women might have avoided traumatic experiences. 


A girl's night-out - but all are transwomen.  After thousands views and likes on
 Facebook and Instagram, someone may make connection with an old male friend.

Perhaps the final word here should go to a transwoman - Talisa Garcia - who was outed by UK newspaper in 2005 after an affair with a celebrity: "Everyone has skeletons in their closet - only mine is bigger than most."

 

Television

Television has developed a passion for including a transwoman in every reality TV series – with the lady in question usually (but not always) being very passable before eventually being out’ed in some way.

The genesis of this probably occurred in early 2004 when Sky broadcast to the UK a reality TV series called there’s Something about Miriam.

Miriam RiveraThis involved six male contestants spending three weeks at a villa in Ibiza trying to woo a pretty 21-year-old Mexican pre-op transsexual woman called Miriam Rivera in order to win the prize.  Only at the end were the supposedly shocked contestants told about Miriam's "something", although from previously shown conversations they clearly had a suspicion.  The contestants then began a legal action against the producers claiming conspiracy to commit sexual assault. Their lawyer said: "The men had no idea that Miriam was a transsexual. ... They are horrified because there are shots of them snogging, cuddling and groping her."  Sky settled the case for £125,000 ($200,000) each.

Nadia Almada in Big BrotherA few months later the fifth series of Big Brother UK started.  27-year old Nadia Almada was a popular housemate who whilst not worried about hiding her generous buxom from fellow contestants, did keep secret the fact that she was a post-SRS transgender woman - although viewers were informed. After 71 days in the Big Brother house, she emerged as the winner, securing 74% of the overall vote and winning £63,500.

These two programmes set a formula that has been used numerous times since, a few more examples from the UK:

Larissa Alicia SummersIn 2008, 23-year old Larissa Alicia Summers (see above) featured in the Channel 4 series Vanity Lair.  Newspaper articles later revealed that Larissa was a post-SRS transwoman.

In 2015, MTV's Ex on the Beach also included Larissa Alicia Summers (now 30) as the cast member 'Laura', listing her with the improbable age of just 22!  She apparently succeeded in passing with the other contestants for the whole series, but there were subsequent reports of off-camera challenges from other participants about her past.

In 2019, Channel 4, showed in the UK the short series Gender Quake, where eleven strangers of different gender identities and sexualities shared a house for a week. Given the nature of the programme, it wasn’t a great surprise when 23-year old Cambell Kenneford revealed that she was a post-SRS transwoman.

Maxine HeronFinally, the BBC 3 reality series Heartbreak Holiday - also shown in 2019 - followed the amorous adventures of ten 20-somethings on a month long vacation in the Greek islands.  The very attractive Maxine Heron (age 24) introduced herself to viewers as a transwoman at the start of episode 1.  But she was completely passable and it was half-way through the series before she announced to her clearly shocked companions that she was “trans”, having transitioned age 16.

 

Sexual Intercourse
Sexual intercourse can be a give-away for a transsexual woman, particularly when partnering with a sexually experienced man - often the hunky and masculine type that a newly post-SRS woman is seeking out.  Possible problems include any of: obvious scare tissue; a vulva with a strange appearance; vaginal hair; a bad smell, the vagina entrance is oddly positioned, the vagina is tight and narrow, unsatisfactory depth; and a lack of lubrication.

Thankfully with modern surgical techniques the chance of an immediate exclamation of "Oh my god, what is that" by the man on seeing his FTM partners vulva has decreased very considerably in recent years.  Going further, the happy coincidence of a pelvic girdle (bones) with intermediate sexual proportions and a good result from a top surgeon will leave male lovers very contented and some natal women very jealous - but this is a best case.


Emel Aydan, born in 1951 as Erdoğan Kaşif (inset), is a Turkish porn star who appeared in many films in the 1970's - often co-staring her step-mother!  The fact that Emel was a MTF transsexual was never even hinted. 

A few transwomen are lucky enough to meet a "true love" whilst still pre-op.  Her sex reassignment surgery can then be shared experience, and the subsequent intercourse "wonderful", no matter how bad it actually is!  In practice, most transwoman break their virginity as a woman with an experienced heterosexual man.  If he's unaware of her past, this poses significant risk, particularly if she is at an age where sexual inexperience as a female might seem very strange.


Attractive and passing transwomen may still face serious problems when in bed with their partner.

The British comedian Bob Monkhouse relates in his autobiography Crying with Laughter how he picks up a gorgeous and extremely buxom chorus girl (aka stripper) who was also a fanatical fan of his, only to find when they go to bed that her vagina had no depth and gave him no satisfaction - describing the feeling as mushy and blocked.  The poor girl finally admits to him in tears that she had recently had a sex change operation, and that he was the first man she had ever had intercourse with.  Bob is reasonable about this (at least in the book), but many men might not be. 


Top a 2014 photo from Sun's facebook site, below the photo on her ID card dated 2009.

A complete contrast to Bob's girl is the story of Sun Jing-Ya or 'Linda'.  Born in China in 1989, she worked the streets for several years as a shemale to fund her sex-reassignment surgery in 2012, age 22.  She then quickly became renowned for her sexual skills and techniques as a woman, and within months was able to charge VIP's over $3000 for a one-hour session.  Prostitution is illegal in China and her success eventually led to her being arrested in 2015 and being made an example of.  At her trial, the authorities claimed that she had been paid nearly $100,000 to attend a three-day orgy with wealthy businessmen, and then showed that she still had an male ID card with name Luo Yue - undoubtedly to the shock of many of her former clients.  She was jailed for four years.

Whilst it might not be Romeo and Juliet, there is a lot to be said for a few one night stands with a drunken but horny young man from the night club in order to build up experience before having intercourse with someone important or wealthy. 

In an ideal world, feed-back from a co-operative male friend helps an awful lot - if that is not possible - well don't rush things.  Six months of dilation and post-natal exercises, combined with a little bit of rehearsal using a sexy video, may make all the difference between a wonderful first night with 'Mr Hunk' and a total disaster. 

 


Nadia Almada (above right) outed herself by entering Big Brother UK 2004. 


The
News of the World in July 2009 - "Lingerie model Lisa was once a man called Louis (and her boyfriend didn't know)"

Transwomen Outing Themselves

Some transsexual women who achieve deep stealth then seem to have an urge to "play with fire" and start to take ever increasing risks.  For example: starting to revisit old haunts, taking on a job or role with a high public profile, excessive surgery, an affair with a celebrity, posting topless or even nude photos on the internet, becoming a politician, making false claims that are easily to checked.  An extreme example is Lana Woods, who starred as a woman in several porn films in the early 1990s, allegedly without the producer knowing her past.

Some stealthy transsexuals eventually decide to 'out' themselves.  This is most often done by transwomen who successfully transition when young, but in middle age decide to come out as being a transsexual woman - usually in support of the wider trangender community. A few examples include Lynn Conway, Aleshia Brevard and Anna Taylor. 

There are also instances where stealthy transwomen appear to have decided for financial reasons to sell their story to the media, examples in the UK possibly include Nadia Almada, Angel Paris Jordan, and Lisa Du Preez

Nadia (born Jorge 'Carlos' Leodoro in 1977) transitioned when she moved to the UK from Madeira in 1999 and had her SRS a few years later.  She won a £65,000 prize by intriguing housemates and television viewers when, age 27, she participated in the UK version of television reality show Big Brother in 2004.  She went into the house stealth but housemates began to wonder if she was TS after just a few days.  The program's producers already knew that she was a transsexual, and soon the rest of the world did as well.

 
Jackie McAuliffe, age 28

Lisa's story appeared in various newspapers and magazines with tabloid suitable quotes such as "When I met my fiancé ... in a pub a year ago we hit it off right away but I didn’t tell him about the surgery."

Jackie McAuliffe is perhaps an extreme example of this.  Born Jason, she transitioned age 20 and had SRS when 25.  She was fortunate enough to be a totally as a woman and in the late 1990's she worked for several years as a [female] prostitute, sleeping with hundreds of men.  But she was very publically outed (albeit presumably with Jackie's consent) in the BBC docu-drama Paddington Green - briefly becoming the most famous transsexual in Britain.  The BBC paid her very little and a new career as a musician quickly came to nothing; she readily admitted to financial difficulties in the follow on program Jackie's Story. Since then she has married and changed her name, the passage of time and a low profile life style has allowed her to slip back in to stealth but the trail of evidence means that she can never be totally sure that she won't be recognised as a transsexual.


Céline Van Den Bossche

Whilst at primary school, Van Den Bossche knew that he was different from the other boys.  He began wearing make-up and dressing as a girl. When age 15, she transitioned with the forename Celine and began female hormone treatment.  Age 18, she underwent a sex change operation and was now legally a woman in Belgium.  Four years later she was working as a hair dresser and all aspects of her life was living as a woman.  Perhaps unwisely she entered and won a local beauty contest. As a result, she qualified for the Miss Belgium contest and strong local support made her one of the favourites.  However, a reporter from Laatste Nieuw did some research and interviewed her just before the contest, in answer to a question she said "I'm transgender, so what?".  Now out'ed, she was eliminated in the preliminary round.



A transitioning transwoman published on social media this photo of herself on the beach..  

Major risks are also involved with trying to go partially stealthy, e.g. going "stealth" at work but "out" with friends and family.  Inevitably this division will not work long term.  Confiding ones transsexuality to a partner or best friend with an oath of secrecy is extremely risky - human nature being what it is the word will almost inevitably slowly spread.  The temptation or even need to reveal one's background in order to get a job, obtain a bank loan, during a medical, etc., is also often great, but again this breaks the stealth rules and increases the risk of eventually being out'ed. 


The internet has become nightmare when trying to go stealth.  This photo of contestants during a fun beauty contest at a holiday resort was posted on a popular social network.  One of the women accidentally used an old account to add a comment, which unfortunately revealed that she was transgender.

An example is 17 year-old transgirl Sarah Green who was successfully passing and developing as a young woman - "the first time I went out as a woman I felt really embarrassed but it was brilliant too.  I wasn't hiding anymore".  She wanted other young transsexuals to know that "they don't have to be ashamed of who they are" and so she agreed to appear on Blunt - a teens' TV programme  But an unfortunate result of outing herself so publicly was that people on her street now knew that she was a transsexual, and shouted abuse at her.


Victoria Beltran with Admiral General Aladeen (aka Sacha Baron Cohen) in the The Dictator (left), and 'guarding' him at a publicity event (right).

A more high profile case is the sad story of Victoria Beltran.  She was probably born in February 1979 - although 1987 is also stated in some press reports.  It's likely but not certain that she transitioned and became Victoria when she moved to New York age 15, and had SRS age 18.  She then went deep stealth, working occasionally as a model (e.g. Maxim Magazine, Dior, L’Oreal) or extra in TV shows (e.g. Law & Order and Ugly Betty).  In 2009 she married Brett Bergman, who was apparently unaware that she was a transsexual.  In 2011 Victoria was selected to be one of the mini-skirted "Virgin Guard" in Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie The Dictator, briefly appearing in the movie and rather more prominently at subsequent PR events in 2012.  She became worried that she would be out'ed (which indeed occurred in May 2013) and thus revealed to her husband that she was transgender and had SRS.  Shocked, he sought comfort with a female work colleague, Katarzyna Sakowicz, and they began an affair.  Victoria discovered this and started to make threatening phone calls to Katarzyna, who eventually contacted the police - resulting in Victoria being arrested in May 2013 on harassment charges.  Victoria then said “I’m more a woman than she’ll [Katarzyna] ever be!”, and claimed that her husband actually "knew the whole time” about her past.  Her husband has since filed for divorce.

 


Attorney, author and commentator Ann Coulter.  She has been the subject of extra-ordinary attempts to 'out' her as an AIS or transwomen. Her supposed Adams Apple is highlighted below.

Women Incorrectly Outed

It seems nearly certain that there are some well know women who have successfully concealed their transsexuality.  Conversely, some genetic women have been supposedly but incorrectly outed as transsexual's, perhaps most famously Miss France 2001 - Elodie Gossuin

Another possible example is the American celebratory Ann Coulter.  Since 2005 there have been determined but so far inconclusive attempts to expose her as a transsexual woman, or perhaps a suffer of AIS.  One theory is that she was born Arthur Coltrane in Georgia (USA) and had SRS in Denmark as a teenager.  A host of circumstantial evidence has been offered to prove that she was once "male", e.g. that she is: 6ft tall; has brow ridges; an Adams apple; big hands; big feet; has not been forthcoming with her childhood records; and so on.  The best argument against her being a transsexual is that years of determined press investigation have failed to prove this.  If she is actually a transsexual, then she has taken going 'stealth' to an impressive depth.

.
Lady Gaga - with a hint of a penis in her panties?

After photos of Lady Gaga appeared on the internet in December 2008 that appeared to show the outline of a penis, it seems that Lady Gaga happily stoked the speculation that she was a pre-op transsexual woman or hermaphrodite for over a year.  All publicity is good publicity!  In 2010 she finally appeared in a very revealing music video (Bad Romance) apparently aimed at proving that she didn't have a penis, and another video (Telephone) made fun of the idea.  This ended the argument - unless you believe that she had belatedly spent some of her fortune on radical feminisation surgery of her bottom genitalia.


Avril Lavigne

Another singer-musician claimed to be a transsexual is Avril Lavigne, very oddly out'ed by her brother (Matt).  He says that when their mother (Judy) became pregnant with Avril, their violent father insisted that it must be a daughter.  The new born baby was unfortunately a boy, but Judy dressed and brought up Avril as a girl, eventually even giving her female hormones.  This highly improbable story is very slightly supported by circumstantial evidence.  Firstly Avril reached the age of 35 with no children from two marriages and several serious relationships.  Secondly, Avril has posed topless for several magazines and her B cup size breasts, with small areola, are very typical of transsexuals who started female hormones at an early age, further her short height (5ft 2in) is actually compatible with taking large dosages of female hormones at a young age.  The length of her fingers is also typical of a genetic male, whilst her chin and jaw line does seem to have benefited from some slight feminisation surgery compared to a more robust appearance in her early teens.  Despite the modest evidence described, it seems very unlikely that Avril is not a cis-woman.


Enza Anderson stood for Mayor of Toronto

 
The Future

There is now increasing transgender awareness in western society and the general community.  As the number of transsexuals has increased, so more and more people have personally got to know a trans-gendered person - be it family, friend or work colleague.  Transsexuals are at last slowly ceasing to be freaks seen only on talk shows and in the Sunday newspapers, but are becoming real people.  Transgendered women have become almost common place in the fashion industry, and as actresses.

As this happens, we see more openly transgendered women, and not just so called "activists", entering in to public, social and corporate life at all levels.  It's thus possible to hope that with time the perceived importance of the advantages obtained by going "stealth" will decrease, and the quality of life balance incline more towards remaining "out".

Nevertheless, it is becoming almost impossible for a transwoman to go deep stealth.  The digital trail is simply too great to avoid eventual discovery.  The corollary is that we moving to a world where we accept that a significant proportion of woman are genetically XY and significant proportion of men are genetically XX. And another significant proportion are gender neutral. 

 


This transwoman was out'ed when she briefly became a minor 'C list' celebrity but soon
disappeared again.  It's appropriate for this page that I don't provide her name.


Stealth - My Experience

After I transitioned I tried to avoid telling people about my past, but I found that sometimes I had to admit to my male past, or I was asked revealing questions, or I was simply "outed".  Thus an ever growing number of people get to know - my family, my doctor, my bank, my closest friends, my boss, my work colleagues, their acquaintances, .... .  


Unfortunately many women give themselves away with silly and careless mistakes, particularly when tired or after a drink.  I've made mistakes that have had me cringing and worried for days.

Nevertheless I was (and still am) uncomfortable about people knowing and talking about my past, which was rapidly becoming distant and irrelevant to me.  

Ideally I would like to go deep "stealth" and live completely as woman without anyone knowing my past, but while this is an appealing prospect in many ways, it would also be extremely difficult to achieve.  Going stealthy to that extreme would imply me being absolutely convincing as a woman at all times, have no contact with people (including family) who know me otherwise, and destroy all evidence (photo's, school reports, references, letters...), of my previous incarnation.  It would also mean fabricating a complete and believable past (including girlhood) covering the time before I transitioned, obtaining all the essential supporting documentation, and then completely and utterly maintaining the story at all times.  I would also have to somehow remove all evidence of myself from the Internet.  Over the last few years a dozen or more girls have asked me for what ever reason to remove their photos and information from this website, but despite the clearly determined efforts of some, it was a simple exercise to disprove the possibility that all evidence of their transsexuality had really gone from the web.


Asian transsexual women such as Makiko (a minor TV celebrity in Japan) tend to be remarkably passable in western eyes because of their small stature and light build, often greatly assisted by early transition, - although sometimes less so to their fellow nationals. 

A few personal examples of how hard stealth is to achieve:

A few months after I transitioned I had my car stolen by 'Joy Riders'.  The car was recovered the next day but the Police got confused after comparing their records with documents that they had found in the car.  They made checks and called me in for a very embarrassing interview before I could reclaim it.

Ten months after I transitioned (and still pre-Orchiectomy, let alone SRS) the company I was working for sent me to visit their Agents in the Arabian Gulf.  Unfortunately my passport was still "male" and upon arrival at the airport late at night I aroused suspicions when I reached the Customs Area.  I was strip searched and every item in my baggage questioned - providing great entertainment to the bored staff.  I then had to wait two hours wearing only my panties until their Chief finally arrived at 3:00 a.m. to approve my release - apologetic but with a big smile on his face. 

About 18 months after my transition I visited my Mum and went out to get some groceries.  I was shocked when a shop assistant recognised me - we had been in the same class at school.  Actually I'm still amazed, she hadn't seen me for over 10 years and I was dressing as a woman, but she knew me long before I could put a name to her.

During the 1980's I worked at a University for several years and became slightly acquainted with the young wife of one of the lecturers.  I was rather surprised to get an email from her in 2002, she had seen this website and is a transsexual as well - so we can now out each other!

Deep stealth is undoubtedly living the "big lie", and while a few girls may manage to carry it off, it is still perhaps too great a challenge for me.  But I am seeking a compromise degree of "stealth" in my normal daily life, and with time and experience (i.e. age!) and new documentation behind me, I'm now near finding it.

 

A Survey

The Connectivity newsletter of FORGE (For Ourselves: Reworking Gender Expression), a male-to-female support organisation, conducted a survey about the extent to which its members felt that they were perceived (or out'ed) as male or female, and the associated context.  I've taken the liberty of summarising the report as follows:

1 = Male by everyone, 5 = Female by everyone.

  1 2 3 4 5
Employment 25% 8% 41% 10% 12%
School 15% 2% 7% 12% 2%
Family 5% 8% 3% 22% 58%
Social Clubs 14% 2% 29% 22% 25%
Acquaintances 17% 12% 29% 25% 10%
Friends 2% 14% 10% 19% 53%

Note: The totals don't add to 100%, particularly for 'School', the survey says  "Figures for those out at school are too small to analyze."  Presumably the gap reflects where no response was selected.

Unsurprisingly a majority of participants felt that they could pass as female with friends and family, but very few were confident of this at work or with acquaintances.  Excluding 'School', just 10% of respondents that they could pass as female in all situations, and this was probabl;y  an exageration.  Many transwomen convince themselves that they can pass until a traumatic event proves otherwise.  As noted several time elsewhere on this site, passability is brutally age dependent - whilst many teenage transgirls can pass easily with just hormones, tranwomen in their 20's, 30's and beyond rely increasingly heavily on feminising surgery and the reality is that a majority will never consistently pass successfully.

 

The "Can I Pass?" Quiz

Two Brazilian transwomen test their ability to pass physically

I've seen several quizzes on the Internet about "passing".  Unfortunately, these seem to be mostly concerned with transvestites attempting occasional passing in public, so I thought I would have a go myself at a quiz for pre-transition, adult (age 18 or older), transsexual women who are considering going full time.  The quiz is designed to give some indication of the chances of being quickly "read", it gives less indication about the chances of passing long-term when many other factors come in to play.

This quiz is primarily intended to be for fun, but also a little thought provoking for pre-transition girls.  Please don't take it too seriously and shoot me down in flames, but I do welcome constructive feedback and suggestions that will help me refine it. 

It you really want to try the quiz, it's here.


 

 

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Last updated: 13 September, 2009