to tell or not to tell? | i’d rather not

Steph and I are gearing up for a holiday that we’re splitting between our respective families, which includes swimming and being semi-naked frequently. Understandably, the topic has come up… do we tell her family that I’m a trans guy or don’t we? So that got me thinking…

Do you wanna know something that I don’t know?

I don’t know how big everyone’s dick is. My boss, my brother, my best friends, strangers on the street, not even my old roommates’ dicks… I don’t know and I don’t care.

This is my rationale when people ask me why I decide to be stealth and why I don’t think it’s all that important to tell people that I have a trans status/past/history/experience/etc.

Let me explain…

I have yet to encounter someone who has been circumcised or not circumcised who feels the unavoidable need to disclose that information to all of their friends, relatives, and in laws let alone complete stranger. It’s not a judge of their character, it was almost certainly not their choice, and it had absolutely no effect on their ability to receive or provide pleasure to someone (given that there were no lasting medical complications, which happens at a rate of 1.5% for newborns and 6% for older children, source).

Side note: circumcision is a little different with respect for the individual’s bodily autonomy, etc, etc; which is a great discussion but not one for this post.

So, anyway, other than the instances where I’ve gotten impressively drunk with my friends and we all decided to drop trow, I can’t see how the topic would ever come up among decent, socially aware human beings.

To be clear, I’m not ashamed of my trans status/past/history/experience/etc, I just don’t embrace it or think that it accurately expresses how I feel and what I’ve gone through.

Ok, so you get the big idea here, right? People don’t need to have intel about my genitals to know who I am as a person, and really my genitals are the only thing that’s visually affected by my trans status/past/history/experience/etc. There is actually another reason too…

People generally treat me differently when they know.

Some people have a very static idea of what being trans means and what trans people are like or how they look. People in the past have noticeably shifted their attitude towards me when they found out including…

  • Treating me more delicately
  • Being more guarded about certain topics (like sex or profanity)
  • Questioning my sexuality
  • Distancing themselves from me physically and emotionally
  • Using incorrectly gendered pronouns
  • Simply being mean and rude

So, at the end of the day, I don’t feel like anyone needs to know. I definitely don’t owe it to anyone to disclose my trans status/past/history/experience/etc and actually feel that it’s not worth my time/attention/sanity/safety/anxiety/stress/etc to fully explain who I am and why I don’t give a shit what they think. However, if someone does find out or if I tell someone, I’d rather educate them properly then have another ignorant jackass running around misgendering people and asking rude questions.


One comment

  1. Eli

    Hi Cam,

    I enjoyed your post here, and certainly agree with much of what you have said, and share your feelings of frustration.

    It seems the people you’re considering being stealth around aren’t just some strangers on the street–they’re Jo’s family. But I think being a trans man makes more of a difference to who you are currently than just what is in your pants: you have the history, the experiences, the identity of a trans man. Of course you can choose to be stealth, and as an autonomous individual I surely respect your personal decisions.

    But I think I would feel a bit remorse if I didn’t add: part of the reason trans folks are routinely and systematically oppressed by the larger community they are a part of is because cis gendered folks don’t know any trans folks. Or rather, they don’t know they do know trans folks. Being stealth hurts the trans community because it doesn’t allow the cis community a chance to ask those stupid questions, to be educated, to become more compassionate.

    I am with you on feeling disappointed by those “stupid questions–” they irritate me too. But how can we get past them if we don’t answer them? And how can we answer them if our cis allies don’t know we’re there to be asked?

    I certainly wouldn’t advise someone who is stealth to come out to every stranger on the street, especially if that would put them in a dangerous position. But I wonder if you might consider thinking about coming out as trans to some of the family, if you feel it safe.

    Of course no one “needs to know,” or “has a right to know” your personal gender information, but by coming out as trans to some folks, you make the world a safer place for all trans folks. I guess what I’m saying is, until we stand up for ourselves as trans, we will continue to be treated differently, poorly, awkwardly, by those we love and by those we barely know.

    Just my two bits,

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