website defines stealth as:
process of hiding one's past so that there is less available
evidence of having been in a different social role. Deep
Stealth refers to virtually eliminating all possible reference to
a former life. Stealth is usually considered a final stage
of transition but some people who have lived in the changed role
for more than 10 years see it as another stage before a more
complete understanding of themselves."
the context of male-to-female transsexual women, "passing"
means that when you meet someone, they accept you without
any reservations as a woman. But "passing" comes in various degrees, for example
it might mean that you walk in pubic without being identified as man; another
significant stage is
called "stealth" where acquaintances, work colleagues
and even a circle of friends are
unaware of your male background; and finally there's "deep
stealth", where you totally live your life as a woman and very
close friends and even your husband are unaware that you are a transwoman.
Being confident enough to select the "Miss/Ms/Mrs" box on a
form is also a form of stealth.
alternative to stealth is sometimes called being "out" -
where you openly admit to, and perhaps even advertise, your
Stealthy women may be "outed", where someone
discovers that they are a transsexual.
Being "read" means having your gender questioned when
trying to "pass" as a woman - in circumstances
that may range from short shopping trips as a woman, to living and
working and living as woman, to intimate relations as a woman.
The rest of this article is orientated towards transwomen who
transition as adults, 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
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 male to female
transsexual to achieve. Deep stealth means:
Discarding (hiding is 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.
Adapting your pre-transition
life story in to a consistent and convincing story.
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.
Closing off every old identity trail that you
can - bank accounts, memberships, subscriptions, stores, etc.
Contacting all organisations (e.g. government, utilities, medical, education, professional bodies, ...) that may 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
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.
Changing jobs, which may well mean changing
careers and accepting a far less well-paid or responsible
Cutting off friends, acquaintances and even
close family who knew you as a man.
and all this is absolutely pointless unless:
Physically you pass convincingly as a woman, not
just briefly but over the long term, 24x7, occasionally
naked (medicals, security checks, changing rooms...), and perhaps in an intimate relationship. Hormones
and good quality sex reassignment surgery
are a minimum, but many other treatments such as
electrolysis, facial feminisation surgery, and breast
augmentation are also likely.
Your voice is not a male give-away (an all too
common problem for otherwise extremely passable transwomen).
Behaviourally and socially you are totally
convincing as a woman.
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 merry after a bottle of wine is all too easy
to make, but it may come to haunt you and prove impossible to
There is a significant amount of give away
evidence on the internet (often posted by yourself!).
Physical appearance is one key to
passing, Gabrielle Schaffer (USA).
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.
At the famous
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 some 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."
Unfortunately learning how
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
simply never be able to pass consistently, while for many others
it takes years of hormone treatment, expensive and extensive surgery, a
lot of preparation, and considerable hard won experience after
transition before they can pass convincingly and confidently at all times -
and only at this point is going stealth a real option.
Rare indeed is the transgirl who passes convincingly from the
first day of her transition, and she's almost certainly under 20
years of age.
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.
Whether or not to go Stealth
transwomen never go stealthy, the reasons vary but can
An inability to pass completely convincingly 24x7
unwillingness to break existing career
or family ties
An unwillingness to make the many sacrifices that going
unwillingness to accept the constant fear of being
"read" or the risk of being "outed"
genuine desire to be open about their transsexuality.
the other hand, many transsexual women go stealthy because:
want to completely separate themselves from their male
past (common among younger women)
enter in to a relationship that an admission of being
transsexual would endanger
old Jamie-Michelle. A brutal
reality is that the younger a transwoman transitions, the
more passable she will be.
They have embarked upon a career
(e.g. modelling or acting) that requires this
from a partner who knows that they are transsexual, but doesn't
want any other people to know
They have suffered from abuse or
worse as a transsexual - before, during and after their
A desire to avoid the reaction from people that an admission or
discovery of their transsexuality often brings: avoidance,
furtive glances, strained conversations; a false
acceptance, reluctant inclusion in girl-only social
They dislike the background of furtive whispers
They hate the constant observation and 'behind
the back' comments about their appearance and passability, with
a perceived pressure to be more perfectly female than other
In early 2004 Sky broadcast to the UK a reality TV series
centred upon the passability of a 21 year-old Mexican
pre-op transsexual woman called Miriam Rivera. Six male
contestants spent three weeks at a villa in Ibiza trying
to woo her in order to win the prize. Only at the
end were the contestants told about Miriam's
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.
A particularly difficult problem is having to avoid
contact with old acquaintances, friends and even relatives -
attending reunions or family events would be highly dangerous.
The consequences of this can be quite heart rendering, for example one follow-up study describes a MTF woman who
wife and young family when she decided to transition and have
SRS surgery. She went stealth and later met and married a man,
and adopted his children as their mother - without their knowledge
of her past life as a male. However her new happiness has been
badly marred by being unable to see the children that she fathered
grow up, marry and eventually have her grandchildren.
There is considerable debate within the transgender community about the
number of transsexual people who actually succeed in
"going stealth". Statistics are very scarce, and
suppositions range from a significant proportion of all post-SRS
women, to a negligible number who mostly transitioned at a very
early age. Indeed, it's
almost impossible to over emphasise how much transitioning as a teenager
(or younger) immensely aids passability.
The number of transsexual women who go stealth is clearly directly
relational upon the number who can pass convincingly as a woman at
all times, this being an essential pre-requisite. However the number
(or proportion) of transwomen who can pass is also disputed, and an
additional difficulty is that transwomen tend to overestimate their passability - some thinking that they can pass well when in fact
they are outed when tested.
usually far less of an issue for transsexual girls
transitioning at a young age, such as 14 year old Johanna.
course any transwoman who has succeeded in going deep stealth is
hardly likely to publicly claim this unless already outed, or
she deliberately chooses to come out. Follow-up studies of
post-SRS transsexuals are skewed by the dropping-out of the most successful and assimilated patients, these have often gone
stealth/deep stealth and participating in such of a reminder of
their past is the last thing they want to do.
d'Eon was able to "pass" - at least until his 30's
- long before hormones
and feminisation surgery.
Almost all transwomen know that realistically 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. It's
now possible to get comprehensive facial
feminisation surgery and high quality breast augmentation and SRS, but it's still not
possible to change a person's height, feet, or hand size - and even if
a 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.
Debbie, a young transgirl from the UK. Clearly passable - but if she
had waited another ten years the answer might be different.
transwoman seriously thinking of going
stealth must be brutally realistic about her passability -
particularly if she's planning to do that as part of her full time
start by asking her friends and family to be totally honest about
how well she passes. She should then intensely
test and verify a
positive answer with strangers: on the phone, in bar's, whilst
etc. - alert for any odd looks, signs of puzzlement, sly
glances, or whispering. Tough final tests include a date with
a man, a visit to a spa, and a part time job as a woman.
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 for a few it can be a devastating experience
which makes them question their sex-change.
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 suggested that in the UK there
were in 2001 about 5000
openly transsexual post-SRS women plus another 3000 (i.e. 38% of the
community) living in stealth. However the stealth percentage may be too high,
I suspect that
perhaps only 10-20% of western transsexual women ever reach the stage
where they can pass convincingly and consistently as
over a long period (e.g. at work) - with a very strong bias in favour of the
relatively few (at least in Europe) women who
transition in their early 20's or younger.
(Above) A montage of wonderful transsexual women of all ages - some
more passable than others.
and Sexual Orientation
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
"Ivana" was born male, but did her
sexual partners need to know that?
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,
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.
Anna Taylor signing the registrar form
after her marriage to second husband 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
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 aware of her male past. She
describes how her relationship with her first husband, Paolo,
developed as follows:
"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
Anna was married to Paolo for 13 years before he sadly
died of cancer; he never knew his wife was a transsexual.
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
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 not to tell all and just a year later she married a man who
was unaware of her background. But Judy found that she was
unable to cope with stress that his ignorance caused and she soon
sought a divorce whilst still leaving him unaware of the real problem.
Judy later had another unsuccessful marriage with a man who was
perhaps rather too aware of her past. After 20 years living as
woman, Judy transitioned back to living as a man.
in to a serious relationship with a man drives many
passable transsexual women in to going stealthy.
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.
of Kayo Sato's many early fashion shoots - for Sky Girl
magazine. Although pre-SRS, she [amazingly] modelled for
nearly two years as a girl before being outed.
entered the Miss Schutzenfest 2005 beauty contest,
won, and then was quickly outed.
Most transsexual people
would eventually prefer to live a quiet life, and this is
often best found by not being identified as having "changed
sex". The Internet is perhaps a relevant example, many
TS girls who establish a web presence at the time of their
transition, delete it a few years later as they settle in to
their new life and move from openness about their
transsexuality to privacy and perhaps eventually deep stealth.
A man unknowingly chatting up a transsexual woman during a carnival
in Spain. She's pre-op - so where
that all transsexual women who have gone stealthy face is being outed.
This can happen for many reasons, including: poor physical passability;
poor social passability; bad documentation; sheer bad luck; ... etc.
transitioned but still pre-SRS women obviously faces many additional risks of being outed
because of her genetalia:- security checks; medical emergencies;
groping men; in the changing room; accidents in the pool, perverts
with miniature camera poor tucking ... even an erection for those not on a high
dose hormone regime!
A good example of this 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. Colleagues became
suspicious and rumours that she was man became to spread.
Finally in September 2010 she confirmed on TV and via her
that "I was born a boy".
In the modern world, a former shemale porn star will
always be haunted by on-line evidence
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 of her lovers was disconcerted to find a tampon
in place - allegedly if somewhat implausibly stained with
Topless on the beach - she is taking many risks
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 a big no-no - 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 major disaster such as
starting a story "when I was a boy ...". increases dramatically.
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.
etc. And there are also the thousands of people we met over the
years – some of whom have uncanny memories in my experience.
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.
Alicia Liu (Xun Ai) is a good example of how the past can
haunt a transsexual She transitioned in her teens, had
SRS in 2004 - age 18 - and started to build as a career as
model. She became a member of a popular TV show, but in
January 2010 a former school classmate recognised her in
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
Liu Shi Han had a very similar experience.
Born in 1989 as Liu Shuai, she knew she was a girl by age 3. From
age 16, she attended college in the day, but at worked at in clubs as a pole dancer and "Snake
Girl Lan Xi”. After three years she had finally the $10,000
needed for her SRS, which she against the wishes of her family
- who beat'ed her when she returned home. She
moved to Beijing and soon started to get
modelling assignments. She tried to hide her early
childhood by claiming that she had been adopted at 8 or 9,
but an increasing number of boyfriends - and their families
- began to know about her past. In 2010 someone at
Tsinghau University in
to post pictures
and rumours about
her past on the internet. These 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 within six months she had
reached super model status
Conversely, a huge problem for many stealthy transsexual women is an
awkward lack of evidence.
For example: no childhood photos as a girl; no old school reports; no examination certificates;
no old friends or even acquaintances, ... a partner (or reporter) may get more and more
inquisitive about this - and the excuses will get ever more elaborate
28 year old Lauraine (right and her 22-year
old half sister Lenette. Previously 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.
made headlines around the
world as the result of a brief relationship with a married man.
Another 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 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 she had a history as a
prostitute - but was surprised that this was a "shemale",
and that she was now a post-operative male-to-female
After the revelation Giorgos returned to his wife, whilst on
the back of all the publicity Jenny's modelling career
prospered for several years, and she was even voted Greek
Woman of the Year 2000!
An example of the type of disaster that can occur
from historical records is what happened to Brigitte Fell in early
2008 when her boyfriend Garrick Jacobson was arrested under
suspicion of theft. She had had SRS in 1996
and just three or four family and friends knew of her male past - and this list didn't
include Garrick. The policemen looked up the records of
Brigitte and discovered that her gender 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.” Miss Fell was deeply upset by all the
publicity, for example Zoo magazine even featured a photo of
her with the headline "Is Your Girlfriend A Bloke?".
Kyoko (left) and Mika -
Sisters" - are
highly secretive about their past
before about 1997,
even their birth dates. It seems highly unlikely they are half
sisters as claimed, and one favourite speculation is
Kyoka is a former boyfriend of Mika, who
had a sex-change.
As the Brigitte saga shows, a particularly modern problem is that many
transsexual women enjoy a brief moment of fame - intentionally or
not. Any moment of openness as a transsexual - on the Internet,
in a magazine, on TV, etc - can soon be bitterly regretted.
In particular, increasingly 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. Thus despite
every effort to get revealing materials deleted or
destroyed (potentially a counterproductive exercise in itself),
many "21st century" transwomen women 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 an mail from
"T" asking me to delete all references to her on this website.
She had moved in to deep stealth and her new husband and family had no idea
of her transsexuality, she said "This is a long and painful road for
me. I need to [make my old self] not even exist. I now
have a loving family and I am so scared of losing everything that I
always dreamed of." A few years later she was was outed in a
national newspaper when she had an affair with a minor male
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
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 now probably 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 reporter who casually asks a
stealthy transwoman where she went to school unintentionally put her in an almost possible position
unless she transitioned at a very young age. A
failure to answer would be most strange, but providing accurate
details about her old schools would mean a ticking time bomb.
The appearance of websites such as
Friends Reunited has become an enormous help to
journalists and researchers, but sometimes the bane of transsexual
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 now most well-known transsexual women had
been stealthy when the revealing spotlight of publicity first began to
lightly shine upon them, but were eventually outed, e.g. Caroline
Cossey, April Ashley and Amanda
Lear. Given the massive public and media interest in famous
people this is almost inevitable, the irony being that a high
percentage of stealthy transsexual women actively seek high-profile
and very public careers as actresses,
models, singers, etc.
Model Larissa Summers, perhaps once Darren Pratt (inset)
Naked, even a very attractive post-SRS transwomen can have physical give
away's that cause suspicion.
A possible example of this seems to be Laura Alicia
(aka Larissa) Summers - a popular "lads mags" model and
reality TV starlette with some
fairly famous boyfriends. In December 2007 a UK
newspaper claimed that she was a male-to-female transsexual born
Darren Pratt, but when the lady in question
"what they had wrote was a load of **** !" it seemed likely
to have been a PR stunt. However the story was strengthened by
independent support from people who had known her as Darren and she
strongly resembled old pictures of Darren - who was never found, which
would have killed the story. The
credibility of Larissa's denial was further not helped by indicating that she was age
21, but the newspaper had said that she was age 23 (Darren was born on 5
September 1984) and her own posts
seemed to confirm this. In April 2009 her
(apparently now defunct, but effectively replaced by a youtube
stated that she had won "very substantial damages" from the newspaper,
whilst giving gave no indication of the evidence that had led to the award
other than pictures to "let you make your own minds up".
Whilst a very attractive woman, her pictures showed obvious breast implants and a
rather masculine figure, so this may not have been the best strategy.
Maximila Cordera and William Unrich
In another interesting but even more dubious case,
23 year old Maximilia (aka Avarelle) Cordero must soon have regretted
her decision to sue billionaire Jeffrey Epstein for having sexually
assaulted and performed "bizarre and unnatural sex acts" with her when
she was 16 (i.e. still a minor in the USA). American newspapers
were sufficiently interested to do some digging and soon discovered
that the pretty model had once been a boy - Maximillian - who had started
taking female hormones and transitioned whilst in her early teens.
She was also age 19 rather than the claimed 16 at the time of these
"acts". Maximilia also doesn't seem to ever have had SRS, although her
current boyfriend - 57
year old William Unrich - told reporters with debatable accuracy "She's female,
and she's always been a female". Maximilia's case was 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 where she had claimed that the
defendant had "used her unique body to perform bizarre and unnatural
sexual acts on defendant's body".
Perhaps the final word here should go to one
transwoman - Talisa - who was outed: "Everyone has
skeletons in their closet - only mine is bigger than most."
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
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 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 happy and some natal women
very jealous - but this is a best case.
Attractive and passing transwomen may still face serious problems
when in bed with their partner.
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
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
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
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.
(above right, outed whilst winning Big Brother 2004.
News of the World in July 2009 -
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 photo's 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 trangendered community.
A few examples include
Brevard and Anna Taylor.
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.
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
Model and actress Pascale Ourbih
(born Mohand Ourbih) transitioned when she moved to Paris, age 18. (Algeria)
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.
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 "outed".
internet has become nightmare when trying to go stealth.
When the above photo was posted on a social network, one of
old account to add a comment, which
revealed that she was a
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
herself so publically 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
Finally, there is the odd and confusing case of Victoria Beltran.
Probably born in February 1979 (although some reports shave an
unlikely 8 years off her age), she apparently
had SRS when just 15 and went stealth, developing a career as a
minor fashion model and actress. She had a break she was selected
to be one of the mini-skirted "Virgin Guard" in Sacha Baron Cohen’s
2012 movie The Dictator, briefly appearing in the movie and
rather more prominently at PR events. She became worried that
she would be outed and thus told her husband (Brett Bergman) of
three years that she was a
transsexual. Shocked, he sought comfort
with a work colleague, Katarzyna Sakowicz, and they began an
affair. Victoria discovered this, and
started to make threatening phone calls to the Katarzyna, who
eventually contacted the police - resulting in Victoria being
arrested in May 2013 on harassment charges and being very
publically outed. Victoria then claimed
“I’m more a woman than she’ll [Katarzyna] ever be!”, and that her
husband "knew the whole time” about her past; whilst her husband
started divorce proceedings.
Attorney, author and commentator
She has been the subject of extra-ordinary attempts to 'out' her
as an AIS or transwomen. Her
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 -
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
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
Lady Gaga - with a hint of a penis in her panties?
Speculation about the genetic sex of pop sensation
Lady Gaga has also been rampant since she became a star in 2009,
with numerous pictures of her supposed penis widely appearing on
the internet. Lady Gaga stoked the speculation and publicity for
over a year, before appearing in a very revealing video apparently
aimed at proving that she didn't have a penis and was not a transsexual or
hermaphrodite. This ended the argument - unless you believe
that she had belatedly spent some of her fortune on radical feminisation surgery
of her genitalia.
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 29
with no children from two marriages. 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 excessive dosages of female hormones at a
young age. Finally, the length of her fingers is also typical
of a genetic male, whilst her chin does seem to have benefited from
some slight feminisation surgery compared to her early teens.
It is becoming almost almost impossible for a transgirl born after
1990 to go stealth. The digital trail (facebook, yahoo, twitter,
blogs, ...) is simply too great to avoid discovery.
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
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.
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
The "Can I Pass?" Quiz
Two young Brazilian transwomen test their ability to pass
seen several quiz's 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 factor come in to play.
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.
you really want to try the quiz, it's here.
celebrity who admits that she is transgender - what is her name?
- My Experiences
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, .... .
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.
A few personal
examples of how hard stealth is
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
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!
Emel Aydan, born in 1951 as Erdoğan Kaşif
(inset), is a Turkish
porn star who appeared in many films in
the 1970's - often directed by her father and co-staring her
younger step-mother! The fact that Emel was a
was never even hinted.
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
[This final section is "heavier" than normal for my site, but
may be interesting to some people].
Connectivity newsletter of FORGE
(For Ourselves: Reworking Gender Expression), a male-to-female support
organisation, conducted a survey
of its members which was concerned with the concept “stealth
versus out”. Inevitably the results are far more applicable to
female to male transsexuals (80, or 67% of the "trans"
respondents) than male to female (30, or 24%). However it is
worth quoting a significant extract here:
a third of the trans+ respondents did not answer the question of
whether their trans status is known to their partner/s, which could
reflect either that they are not partnered or that they found the
question confusing or did not wish to answer it. An additional 11
said they had no partner. Of the 101 respondents who indicated they
did have one or more partners, the vast majority – 88% -- is “out”
to their partner/s. Two individuals – an in-transition FTM and a
post-transition MTF – have a single partner who does not know they
are trans. Three individuals with multiple partners – all
in-transition or no- or low-hormone FTMs – are not out to at least
one of their partners. Seven individuals – three genderqueers, two
no- or low-hormone FTMs, and one in-transition and one
post-transition MTF – marked the category, “my partner has some
idea of my gender issues” (see Graph 1).
we asked the trans+ respondents not only their own gender identity
but also how observers perceived them, we were able to analyze how
“out” people were based on how they were perceived. We grouped
those who were perceived as male and whose internal gender identity
was categorized as some variation of FTM as “congruent –
masculine.” Likewise, those who were perceived as female and who
identified as MTF were grouped as “congruent – female.” Those
who were genderqueer, were perceived as female even though they
identified in a masculine way, or who experienced inconsistent
social perceptions of their gender were all classed as “non-congruent”
(see Tables 3a, b, c, next page).
classifications produced very interesting results. MTFs with gender
identities congruent with their social gender presentation were
significantly more out than FTMs with internal/external gender
congruency in every environment (with the exception of school, which
pertained to only one MTF).
whose gender identity is not consistently congruent with social
perception were more spread out in terms of how “out” they were.
It is clear to us in retrospect that we did not ask enough
appropriate questions of this group to be able to interpret their
responses. What, precisely, does it mean to be “out” when you’re
visibly genderqueer versus being “out” when you are a
pre-transition FTM, for instance?
Where People are Most Out
people are most out varies based on whether the person is FTM, MTF,
or a SOFFA (see Graphs 3, 4, and 5 on next pages). Both FTMs and
MTFs (those who are gender-congruent) are most out to family
members, with 81% of the MTFs and 58% of the FTMs “out to everyone”
in this category. In contrast, only 30% of the SOFFAs are out to all
family members; SOFFAs are most out to friends, with 70% of them “out
to all” friends. Friends are the second-most-out category for both
MTFs (71% are “out to all”) and FTMs (43%). Overall, MTFs are
most out (in descending order) to family, to friends, at work, at
social clubs, and to acquaintances. FTMs are most out to family, to
friends, at social clubs, at work and to acquaintances. SOFFAs are
most out to friends, then at work, to family, and at social clubs
(tied), and finally, to acquaintances. (Figures for those out at
school are too small to analyze.)
Where People are Most Stealth
at the data in reverse – where people most frequently said they
were “out to no one” – gender-congruent FTMs and MTFs again
differ (see Graph 4, below). About a quarter of perceived-as-male
FTMs are not out to anyone at work. Five percent are not out to any
family members, and fewer than two percent are not out to any
friends. In contrast, MTFs tend to be most closeted with
acquaintances, social clubs, and at work, with approximately 10% of
those answering saying they’re out to “no one” in these
categories. (The figures for SOFFAs are too small to analyze.)
on Disclosure Decisions
couple of our respondents felt we should have asked about income,
race, and age, as these influence how “out” someone is able to
be. This data would have been interesting, but none of the literally
hundreds of comments respondents made referenced race or age (with
the exception of one American Indian who pointed out that given that
his family included more than 100 members, it was difficult to be
out to all of them). The comments, did, however, illuminate many
other influences on how respondents thought about the issues
seems obvious that being able to keep a trans status private is at
least partially determined by whether one is perceived as firmly
fitting into one binary gender box or the other; for some folks, the
fact they are transgender is obvious.
can’t tell when I pass or not. I hate binding so I usually don’t
but it compromises my outward appearance. I have no partners/lovers
because of shame about my body and I don’t want to involve others
needlessly in my process. I live in a very small town on an island
with a very small queer population, so I’m not out. If I lived in
a larger town or a city I would probably be more out.”
consider myself very 'out', but that does not mean that I feel the
need to tell anyone and everyone. I simply assume that people can
read me in most situations. Although this assumption is not really
valid, it does relieve me of the need to wonder whether any one
person reads me or not."