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The Stealthy Transsexual Woman

Definitions

One website defines stealth as:

"The 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."

In 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.

The alternative to stealth is sometimes called being "out" - where you openly admit to, and perhaps even advertise, your transsexuality.

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 "comedy".   
 


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

Implications of Going Stealthy

While superficially desirable, stealth and in particular deep stealth, is extra-ordinarily difficult for the 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 risk.

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

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

  • 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 recover from.

  • 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 to pass is not as much fun as picture of three transwomen might indicate.

A transvestite who occasionally tries to pass in public can limit himself to occasional night time outings, or other circumstances where his chances of success are maximised.  But a transitioned transsexual woman faces ruthless and critical examination at all times and in all circumstances:- day and night, at work and at play, fresh or tired, posh frock or casual.  For basic physical reasons, many male-to-female transsexual women will 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.
 
Jahna Steele was voted Las Vegas's "Sexiest Showgirl" in 1991, and out'ed the following year.  She sadly passed away in January 2008, age just 49.

 

Whether or not to go Stealth

Some transwomen never go stealthy, 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 their transsexuality.

On the other hand, many transsexual women go stealthy because:

  • They enter in to a relationship that an admission of their transsexuality would endanger (this seems to be the most significant reason).


  • 19 year old Jamie-Michelle.  A brutal reality is that the younger a transwoman transitions, the more passable she will be.
  • Pressure from a partner who doesn't want his wife/partners transsexuality to be known, encouraging her to go stealthy.

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

  • 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 events.

  • They dislike the background of furtive whispers about them.

  • 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 women.

  • They want to completely separate themselves from their male past.

  • They have embarked upon a career (e.g. modelling or acting) that requires this.


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.  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 "something". 
They 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 abandoned a 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.

 

Passing and Stealth

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.


Passing is usually far less of an issue for transsexual girls transitioning at a young age, such as 14 year old Johanna.

And of 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.


The Chevalier 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.

Passing and Stealth

Unfortunately the option of going stealthy only exists for MTF transsexuals that physically can pass unquestionably as a woman.  This is considerably less than half.

 
The left hand picture is perhaps OTT, but the reality is that very passable transwomen such as Ha Ri-su (right) are the very lucky exceptions ... perhaps more typical are the two women below:

(Above)  Five transsexual woman in a photo shoot.  Attractive - definitely.  Passable as genetic women - probably not.


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



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

Any transwoman seriously thinking of going stealth must be brutally realistic about her passability - particularly if she's planning to do that as part of her full time transition.  She should 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 shopping,  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.


Male? Female? Transsexual?

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 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 a woman 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.

Stealth and Sexual Orientation

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

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


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

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


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 serve?"

Dr John Money has described how a happily married housewife concealed her sex-change from her husband of seven years, explaining their lack of children as being due to medical problems that had rendered her infertile, apparently he had no suspicion of the true situation.  Another transsexual woman, 'Anna Taylor', lived in deep stealth from 18, only her mother and brother 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 say." 


A transsexual woman on the cover of a slimming magazine - acceptance rather than stealth

Anna was married to Paolo for 13 years before he sadly died of cancer; he never knew his wife was a transsexual. 

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 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.


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


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

 
 


One 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.

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

Being "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

A risk 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. 

A 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 cameras, ... 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 blog 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.

Pre-SRS transwoman Srta with a new friend - but what next?

Srta is exceptionally elegant and beautiful as a woman, but [slightly contradictory] is 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.

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 chicken blood.
 

Naked, even a very attractive post-SRS transwomen can have give a way's that cause suspicion and out them. 

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. 

Taiwanese transsexual 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 this, and posted a photo of her as a boy (Zi Hua) on-line.  Hounded by the media, Alicia had no choice but admit that she was a transsexual woman.  

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


The elfin-like Liu Shi Han

Chinese transexual 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 Beijing 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 in China.

jenny.jpg (6132 bytes)
Jenny Hiloudaki

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 and implausible.

While the risk of being outed 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. 


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

An example of unexpected 'bolt from the blue' is Jenny Hiloudaki (born Yiannis).  She transitioned in her early teens with the support of her family, and appeared to be a fairly successful 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 a post-operative male-to-female transsexual.  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!


Brigitte Fell

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?".


Japanese celebrities
Kyoko (left) and Mika - the "Kano 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 that 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 celebrity.


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


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


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


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

It's 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 women. 

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)

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 said that "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 elsewhere seemed to confirm this.  In April 2009 her official website (apparently now defunct, but effectively replaced by a youtube entry) 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 who was outed: "Everyone has skeletons in their closet - only mine is bigger than most."

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

Thankfully with modern surgical techniques the chance of an immediate exclamation of "Oh my god, what is that" by the man on seeing his 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 very strange.

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


South Korean model and actress Ha Ri-Su

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

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. 

 

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.


Nadia Almada (above right, outed whilst winning Big Brother 2004. 


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

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 Lynn Conway, Aleshia Brevard and Anna Taylor. 

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

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

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

 
Jackie McAuliffe, age 28

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

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". 


The internet has become nightmare when trying to go stealth.  When the above photo was posted on a social network, one of the participants added a comment from an old account, which revealed that she was a transsexual.

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

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 Ann Coulter.  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 - Elodie Gossuin

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

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

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.


Avril Lavigne

Another singer-musician claimed to be a transsexual is Avril Lavigne, very oddly out'ed by her brother (Matt).  He says that when their mother (Judy) became pregnant with Avril, their violent father insisted that it must be a daughter.  The new born baby was unfortunately a boy, but Judy dressed and brought up Avril as a girl, eventually even giving her female hormones.  This highly improbable story is very slightly supported by circumstantial evidence.  Firstly Avril reached the age of 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 acctually 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.


Enza Anderson stood for Mayor of Toronto

 
The Future

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

As this happens, we see more openly transgendered women, and not just so called "activists", entering in to public, social and corporate life at all levels.

It's thus possible to hope that with time the perceived importance of the advantages obtained by going "stealth" will decrease, and the quality of life balance incline more towards remaining "out".

 

The "Can I Pass?" Quiz

Two young Brazilian transwowen test their ability to pass physically!

I've 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.

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

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


Stealth - My Experiences

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


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

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

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

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


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

A few 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 MTF transsexual was never even hinted. 

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

 

A Survey

[This final section is "heavier" than normal for my site, but may be interesting to some people].

The 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:

Out to Partners

Nearly 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).

Gender Congruency

Because 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).

Tables 3a,b,c

These 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).

Those 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?

Environments Where People are Most Out

Where 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.)

Environments Where People are Most Stealth

Looking 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.)

Influences on Disclosure Decisions

A 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 surrounding disclosure.

Passing Questions

It 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.

“I 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.”

"I 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."


 

 

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Last updated: 13 September, 2009