The Stealthy Transsexual Woman

(Part 1)



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 into her 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.

Stealth is undoubtedly living the "big lie", and while a few girls manage to carry it off, it represents too great a challenge and sacrifice for many transwomen.

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 a natural born woman. 

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 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.  

Facial appearance is a very important factor to passing, but not the only one.  Gabrielle Schaffer (USA).
Stealthy women are always at risk being "outed", this being where someone realises that they are transgender and publicises this.  It's most likely to happen when for some reason the transwoman appears widely in the media and is recognised by an old acquaintance, e.g. a classmate at school.

The opposite to stealth is sometimes called being "out" - where you openly admit to, and perhaps even advertise as an advocate that you are transgender. 

The rest of this article is orientated towards transwomen who transition as adults (age 18+), it's 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 came "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 into 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, etc

  • Model and actress Pascale Ourbih  (born Mohand Ourbih) transitioned and tried to go stealth when she moved to Paris, age 18, but was soon outed by her work colleagues. (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

    A photo posted by a "young woman".   It's heavily filtered
    and a suitor outed her as being a transwoman in her late 30's.

    Appearing topless as a Page 3 pin-up girl in a national newspaper - in this instance the Daily Sport, 4 March 2008 - is not a great idea if you are stealth.

  • 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 don't make unrealistic and unsustainable claims about your age.  Age regression is commonplace in transwomen.  Claiming to be 40 when you are 45 might be plausible, but 20 when actually 25 is much tougher.

  • 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, thus avoiding panic if a trip to the ladies toilets becomes essential; soreness from constant tucking and taping; and the painful UTIs that often result 

  • 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.

Elle Bradford was born a boy (probably Jesse) in April 1992.  She transitioned as Elle age 15 and then documented her journey to womanhood on social media, particularly YouTube, until early 2018.  She then suddenly disappeared from social media and appears to have gone stealth, an increasingly serious relationship with her boyfriend seems a probable cause.  By this time, age 25, she had been taking female oestrogen hormones for ten years, and also had facial feminisation surgery, breast augmentation surgery, and in 2017 gender confirmation surgery.  Her ability to pass as a woman in day-to-day life benefited immensely from her slight stature (just 5ft 3in, 160 cm tall), small feet (size 6 UK) and acceptably feminine voice.

A transvestite who occasionally tries to pass in public can limit himself to occasional nighttime 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. 

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

Perhaps an extreme example of living the detail is Roberta Close, one would-be lover was disconcerted to discover that he would be unlucky because she was having her 'period' and she had a tampon in her vagina.  Before disposal, she would stain this with chicken blood to simulate her menstrual bleeding.

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 feminisation  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. 

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." 

A common cause of being out'ed is being featured in a
social media post by a well known transwoman.

Japanese celebrities
Kyoko (left) and Mika - the "Kano Sisters" - are highly secretive about their past, even their birth dates are unclear.  One speculation is that Kyoka is a former boyfriend of Mika, another is that they are both transwomen.
Whether or not to go Stealth

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
    Efe shared this photo on social media.  Unfortunately she had previously posted it when a shemale porn star, and was thus soon outed.

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 into 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 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, with her then partner Amber Heard at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.  Corey subsequently became engaged to her male friend Lely Seebeck and they plan to marry in 2024.

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 just 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 the very basic studies conducted.  For example a college study showed photos of transwomen and cis women to other students and asked if they were male or female, the results were brutal for transwomen.

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 woman who has gone deep stealth would want.

Alessio Ameri had an ununusual problem when he transitioned to Allessia at the relatively advanced age of age 30 - no one believed that she was transsexual.  She was soon working as a female model and playing for a women's vollyball team. (Italy)


Jahna Steele was voted Las Vegas's "Sexiest Showgirl" in 1991, but out'ed the following year.  She sadly passed away in January 2008, age just 49. (USA)
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 transwoman with many options - a few examples in rough order of increasing cost and risk:

  • 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 petite girl can be given away by other factors such as masculine voice.  Many transsexual women claim that they have never met another transsexual woman whom they didn't quickly "out" as such in their mind.  I disagree after having worked for several years with a married woman in her 30's and was astonished when she volunteered to help me on a project with transgender adolescents.  But this showed me how rare and exceptional passing convincing as a woman (and thus stealth) is.   

The Reality Check

The left hand-picture shows a drag-queen ans is perhaps OTT, but the reality is that very passable transwomen such as Ha Ri-su (right) are the exceptions.

(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

It is impossible to underestimate how much transitioning by age 20 helps passability. Debbie (UK).

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?

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 transwomen 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" into 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 perhaps more passable than others.



It's hard to exaggerate how important a "female" sounding voice is when going stealth, and the reality is that most transwomen deceive themselves.  For example, a newly married wife (me) was disappointed when watching her wedding video and hearing her voice.

When going stealth, a huge advantage that young transwomen who started hormones or at least puberty blockers by age 12 is that their voice has never "broken".  Listen (without seeing their pictures) to Kim Petras, Evangeline Macdonald or Grace Hyland and you have no doubt that it's the voice of a woman.  Conversely, if you listen to just the voices of highly ranked models and celebrities such as Lea T, Valentina Sampaio and Corey Rae who transitioned in their teens - but after their voice broke - and it's hard to be certain that it's of a woman.

Many adult transwomen have voice training and even expensive and risk voice feminisation surgery (laryngoplasty), but the results can still often sound a little odd for a woman.

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 into 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.

You are passing when you become the "spoon" in the bed!

Entering in to a serious relationship with a man drives many passable transsexual women in to going stealthy.
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 keep their SRS a secret from male partners, while another indicated a perhaps more plausible ratio of 13 out of 42.

Dr John Money describes in his book Man and Woman, Boy and Girl how a 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, he apparently 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 initially decided to go stealth and hide her story.  Just a year later she married a man who was unaware of her background and assumed that she was fertile woman.  Judy was unable to cope with stress that this 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 initially excited at her admission to being transgender, but after they married he soon became bored and started cheating on her with cis-woman.  After 20 years living as woman, including the two failed marriages, Judy transitioned back to living as a man.

Scotland Yard Detective Steve Longshore was planning to marry his girlfriend Lisa Webb when in 1995 The Mirror newspaper revealed that she was 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 and won.  Unfortunately, the resulting local publicity resulted in her being 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.


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

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

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; and sheer bad luck.

A transitioned but still pre-SRS women obviously faces many additional risks of being out'ed because of her genitalia, for example:  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 female hormone therapy when 15.  In 2015 changed her name to Kato and moved to another town where she had 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".

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.

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

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.  We are getting close to the stage where most people know a transsexual woman - be her family, friend, work colleague or an acquaintance. 

As the number of transwomen increases rapidly, the ability of people to recognise a woman as a transwoman seems to be increasing even faster. Also, the now frequent appearance of transsexual women on television in reality programmes, soaps and on talk shows has probably caused problems that it has solved from an inclusivity perspective.  People are becoming increasingly educated (if only subconsciously) as to the signature signs that a woman may be transgender.


19 year old Juliet Evancho had just transitioned and was developing her career as a model when her sister - Jackie - sang at the inauguration of Donald Trump as President in 2017.  She was immediately out'ed.
As a result, some transwomen (e.g. me) who have supposedly passed successfully for years or decades have been devastated by a stranger casually identifying and outing them as transgender.  Conversely, I knew within seconds that a candidate for a job was transgender - which presented me as part of the interview panel with a challenge as it was arguably relevant. 

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 walking in heels on cobles, struggle to touch-up your makeup in a car, don't recognise Channel No. 5, ... well cumulatively over weeks it might become strange to people.   

It's become extra-ordinarily difficult for a transwoman to pass long-term as a cis woman when living with a partner.  For example, a transwoman may have passed every conceivable physical hurdle for a year, when her male partner suddenly wonders why she had never had a period!  The foresight to occasionally leave a tampon soaked in chicken blood in the bathroom bin may stop this subject becoming a 'smoking gun', but other cumulative evidence can include 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 that perhaps become reinforced by constant media stories about TG women. 

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 transitioning 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 twin brothers, Madelyn was already working as a female model when Margo transitioned.  It was impossible for them to go stealth after years on social media.

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 media web presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (X), TikTok, etc.  These may even contain 'smoking gun' posts such as "One year on hormones!"  After transitioning many transwomen close their accounts as they settle into 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 minor celebratory from the early 2000's who was out'ed as transwoman.  I've removed the name at her request.

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

Carol Marra on the front cover of Trip magazine, age 26

When we transition to female, it's impossible to delete, destroy or alter all that prior evidence, some will always remain to act as a potential pointer to our being transgender. 

There's many ways of being outed!A Few Examples of Outing

With the support of her parents, Carol Marra dressed androgynously as a child and went stealth when she began to work as a journalist for a Brazilian TV station.  Age 24, she was spotted by a photographer and agreed to do a photo shoot.  This led to further high-profile fashion assignments, but it became impossible to conceal that she was transgender and had a penis.

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

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

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. 

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

"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".

Gemma (formerly Anthony) transitioned age 16 and changed her birth certificate. She was out'ed by the UK press when she dated the son of a famous football player age 19.

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 that appeared in a local newspaper.  This revealed that they had been born Cary and  Burt and was sensationalist at that date.  The photo was also used in a psychology textbook.  

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, transwoman Jenny Hiloudaki made headlines when she was discovered to be having an affair with a married Government Minister in Greece.

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 into 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?". 

In another example, Maximilia (aka Avarelle or Ava) 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 2000 and 2001 as a minor.  At this time Epstein was a substantial shareholder in the Victoria Secrets lingerie chain, whilst Maximilia was supposedly an "aspiring 16 year-old model ... promoting her career".

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.  The NY Post also found no evidence that Maximilia had had SRS before the alleged sexual acts.

Maximila had many on-line and social media profiles.  In this example she claims to be six years younger than she actually was.

Meeting an openly transgender friend with thousands of social media followers greatly increases the chances of being outed.
However, the newspaper also discovered that she was born in November 1982, and was actually age 18-19 when "repeatedly lured" to Epstein's mansion.  Maximilia's case was also not helped by her admitting that she was "known professionally as Ava" at the time of claimed incident with Jeffrey, and that she had previously lost a similar case of "deviant sex as a minor" when it was proven that she was actually 19 at the time.

Maximilia then started legal proceedings against the NY Post about the accuracy of the many articles it had published about her.  She lost the case in 2009 and is often referred to as "he" in the court papers, which puzzlingly also give her year of birth as 1983.

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. 

It takes only few seconds to post a photo on social media which may then be regretted for years
Internet and 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, Whatsapp and Tiktok.

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 stealth, with many transwomen managing legacy "him" accounts as well as new "her" accounts.

The posts by Kylie on social media were soon linked to other accounts that revealed she was a transwoman.
Human memory is generally short and to a surprising degree many transwomen who were outed or outed themselves on social media can - if they try to erase all references to this - just a few years later be effectively stealth.  I've seen first-hand this happen for an actress, hairdresser, ballerina, teacher, journalist, cook and a student.

This transwoman was taking hormones but had not transitioned when he published this photo on social media whilst on holiday. Whoops!
Nevertheless, the evidence is still out there for a determined searcher.  Any moment of openness as a transsexual - on the Internet, in a magazine, on TV, etc - can be bitterly regretted many years later.  Attempts by transwomen to delete themselves from the Internet will never be 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. 

Polish models Machilina Manios (left) and Karolina Smetek (right)

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 can lead to her being out'd.

It's worth mentioning that there are a few exceptions. Machilina Manios featured in the second series of Poland's Next Top Model.  She is openly transgender/intersex - possibly suffering from AIS.  Her career as a model has benefited from a similarity to her compatriot Karolina Smetek - a supermodel who is undoubtedly cis-female.

Friends on a girlie holiday. However, Corey (right) published on social media photos with tags and links that seemed to out several as being transwomen.
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 someone recognising the voice, mannerisms, facial features, and starting to link them to a man that they used know are very high.  Another problem is making a post or photo that is more revealing than intended.

I started browsing the nascent Internet in 1998 and over the next few years I devoured the posts of the early pillars of the trans community.  Many of these have since spent a lot of time and money attempting to remove these from the public domain as they have since gone stealth, married, or otherwise have reasons to want to delete their on-line history.

Conversely, many of the now most well-known transsexual women were 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 still attempt to be stealth whilst also actively seek high-profile and very public careers as actresses, models, singers, etc. 

This photo from a beauty contest at a holiday resort was posted on a social media site. One of the participants (second from the left)  accidentally used an old account to add a comment, which unfortunately revealed that she was transgender.

Health Records

A major problem when going stealth is medical records.

Many transwomen decide to “wipe the slate clean” after GCS/SRS and register with their local doctor or medical centre as a woman, using a name and sex different from that assigned to them at birth.  In some countries or states, transwomen also have a legal right to change their medical records to reflect their adopted gender. E.g. the Daily Telegraph newspaper reports that:

[A] policy in Scotland allows patients to change a digit of what is known as a CHI number – a unique code given to every patient. The ninth of the 10-digit code is always an even number for women and odd for men. Patients are allowed to change their officially recognised NHS sex simply by making a request to their GP, with staff told that “no evidence is required”. The CHI number is meant to follow a patient from the cradle to the grave, to make sure everyone is easily identifiable and prevent mix-ups. A clinician added. “It’s very hard to see any benefits in allowing patients to change it, especially as medical records are already confidential, and doctors would only share information on biological sex if it’s relevant.”

Rita, a transwoman, having a mammogram
The reality is that transwomen are not biologically fully a woman. As such they have for example no risk of cervical cancer, a reduced risk of breast cancer, but a significant risk of prostate cancer.  Pre-emptive cancer screening can thus be mis-directed.

A big problem is blood test results – a key part of many medical treatments.  Decisions based on the test results can differ between patients with chromosome XX female and those with chromosome XY male due to the physiological and biological differences.  One example is haemoglobin, where the healthy ranges are different for genetically male and female, and where abnormal readings can be a red flag for cancer.  If it’s believed that the blood sample came from an XX female but in fact, they are XY, then a misdiagnosis is very likely.

Another example is hormone levels.  Whilst the hormones now prescribed to most transwoman mimic that of a cis-women (i.e. are bio-identical), they are primarily estrogenic and the transwoman's overall hormone profile is very different from a pre-menopausal woman.  This can again lead to a misdiagnosis.

It's important to be aware that there could be a clinical risk (possibly life threatening) if your biological sex is not known by a clinician, as treatment may be required to be based on your sex at birth rather than your gender identity.  Medical emergencies where you can't inform the medical team that you are transsexual are a particular concern.  One report states that "The transgender population presents a unique challenge for the emergency nurse. There are types of surgeries, medications, complications, and differences in laboratory testing that are unique to transgender people."


Larissa Summers

Laura Alicia (aka Larissa) Summers is an extraordinary example of a transwoman seeking to lead a publicly high profile as a woman whilst also stealth.  She was born in the UK as Darren Pratt on 5 September 1984 and may well be the most successful British transmodel since Caroline Cossey.

Darren transitioned to Larissa during secondary school, age 13-14, and had sex-change surgery age 18.

She began her modelling career by appearing in lad-mags such as Zoo in 2006 under feature titles such as "real girls".  By mid-2007 she was a 'Page 3' pin-up girl, regularly displaying her augmented breasts in the mass circulation Daily Star (right) and Daily Sport (below) newspapers.   She didn't hide the fact that she had extensive and expensive plastic surgery [other than her SRS] and even used this to get additional stories published.

Her success as a newspaper pin-up resulted in her being filmed by Playboy, and she featured as a Playboy Cyber Girl in 2008.

In 2008, 23-year old Larissa Alicia Summers featured in the Channel 4 reality series Vanity Lair, featuring "beautiful people" living in a mansion called 'Vanity Lair'. Whilst she did not win, she was not voted out and managed to remain stealth for the entire ten weeks. 

Perhaps now overconfident, in early 2009 Larissa pushed her luck too far by selling to the News of the World newspaper a story revealing that she was in a sexual relationship with a member of the English Rugby team.  A reporter at the rival Daly Mail newspaper did some digging and discovered that Larissa was a male-to-female transsexual.  The News of World got wind of the Mail's story and pre-empted it by publishing its own article outing her, quoting an old school pal as saying, "I still recognise him from school, he's got the same strong jaw".  As the final blow, the article included a copy of Larissa's/Darren's male birth certificate.

Larissa responded to the newspaper articles outing her by saying that "what they had wrote was a load of **** !" and there was initially a suspicion that it was all just a PR stunt, however she didn't explicitly deny that she was transgender.  In April 2009 Larissa's official website (now off-line) published a brief statement that said she had won "very substantial damages" from the newspapers, but again there was no denial that she was transsexual or that she had been born Darren.

Photos of Larissa, most published by her on social media.  From the left: after transition age 18
; an early topless
photo age 21; pin-up girl age 26;
Ex on the Beach age 30; and "addicted to plastic surgery" age 34.

The outing of Larissa as a transwoman quickly became old news and she was soon again appearing in magazine centrefolds and other publications, now using the name 'Laura Alicia'. 

In 2015 she appeared in Series 3 of the MTV reality program Ex on the Beach.  The pre-launch publicity materials stated that she was a 22-year female model and in the first episodes she passed as such.  However, in a side interview she admitted that her age was 30 and another contestant soon claimed during an argument that she was "a man".  Just before having sex with one of the men she inaccurately told him that she was 'intersex'.  She revealed in a heart to heart with another female contestant (watched by nearly a million people) "I was meant to be a girl  ... my whole childhood was ruined" - they then spent several intimate nights together.  It's almost certain that the production company was fully aware of Laura's past, and she negotiated a high appearance fee based on the likely drama that this would create.

Two photos of Larissa from magazines published 8 years apart.  The outline of her breast implants is quite acceptable in the left-hand picture (age 26) but seems cartoon-like in the right-hand picture (age 34).

In her early thirties, Larissa/Laura again tried to use her extensive plastic surgery to advance her career, for example, claiming that she was spending £100,000 to look like Katie Price.  This culminated in a story when, aged 34, she said that she had spent £500,000 on 50+ procedures, including eight breast procedures, seven rhinoplasty procedures (nose jobs) and three Brazilian butt lifts!

Despite the problems, Larissa's determination to be an attractive and passable woman can only be admired.

 Part 2 of "Stealthy Transsexual Women".... Beauty - Part 2


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Last updated: 13 September, 2019