Between Two Worlds: Living Stealth…or Not?

Between Two Worlds: Living Stealth…or Not? January 9, 2019

Every year when the Wheel of the Year turns to January and cold weather comes I think about moving someplace warmer. But what it really means is an escape from myself. Ever since I came out to my friends and siblings as a transwoman in 2003 and 2004 I think about living stealth. A lot. Every winter.

Image from MaxPixel. Public Domain Image, CC License.

So what do I mean by living stealth, or going stealth? Transpeople use that term when they decide that it’s the best way to move forward after their transition from their birth gender to their preferred gender. When I first came out, and started on my path to transition by starting estrogen treatments, I just wanted to move away, to live stealth. To live the way I wanted to, as a woman. I knew that when I presented myself properly as a woman, I passed as a cis-woman most of the time. And my voice didn’t bother me all that much. Most older women have a deeper voice as they age. There are advantages to being an older transwoman.

And with those advantages problems can arise. At first the gender dysphoria can lead rapidly into gender euphoria. Wow, I can finally be me and live an authentic life, true to myself. Then reality comes into the euphoria with a thud! Yes, I was out to my siblings, but only one of the three was supportive, and only good friends. I wasn’t out to my wife at the time and we had a business together. Ok, so first things first.

I had a really good therapist, and that helped me get through the first step. I came out of the trans closet to my wife one evening. That did not go over so well. It probably would have been better if I had come out as gay. But we survived the night, and for awhile I thought all would work out to my advantage. No, it didn’t, and doesn’t work out that way. Especially when my wife thought she had married a man. Surprise!

Image from Max Pixel, CC 0 License.

I had read a book She’s Not There, A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan. I thought, she did it, why can’t I? She was married, and had a successful career as a writer and a professor at a university. She was fully out as a woman. Living her authentic life. Why not me? Sometimes the Universe teaches us some hard life lessons. I re-read the book. I had skipped over the parts that made it hard for her. Jennifer was an exception to the rule. Almost everyone I know who has come out to a spouse ends up divorced. That happened to me but in a strange way.

In 2004 when I came out to my wife, I was a member of the Chicago Gender Society. It was the only group I was involved in where I could be me. I did get a lot of support there, including from a friend of mine who was out, divorced, and living stealth, as a woman. I took my wife to Chicago for a social event called the Spring Fling a month or so after I came out to her. And introduced her to Renee’. And she left me for Renee’ a few months later. I asked her why. Her response was, I married you knowing you as a man. I love Renee’ the way she is and besides, she has a really good job and can give me a better lifestyle and financial future than you can.

My wife then decided to out me as trans to our employees and mutual friends. And even brought Renee’ into our business to show her off. I had thought well, that’s ok. I’ll just finish my transition and everything will work out. No, it didn’t. Most of my employees didn’t and wouldn’t accept me that way. A few even told some clients I was trans, and I lost some clients and friends. I chose not to present female at work. Reality check again. I decided to go back into the trans closet for awhile.

But through it all, I survived, the business survived for some time after, and I learned a lot in the process. I had choices of course. Living stealth I could have gotten rid of the business, friends who still didn’t know I was out, move away from everything I had worked so many years to achieve, and in the process probably would have lost everything.

Selena Fox, Brianne Ravenwolf, and Dennis Carpenter.

By living stealth, you have to essentially deny your past. I could lie about everything. I could invent a past and hope nobody found out that I was once a man. Or be vague in what I told people. But then what would I tell the new people I met? It would be worse than being in the trans closet. When I consciously thought about all the problems, I started meditating on all the possibilities. Positive as well as negative. I found that once I started to realize I could be who I was on the inside, that how I dressed or looked on the outside didn’t matter as much, my stress levels and fear went way down. Especially the fear of being found out that I was a transwoman. When I accepted myself for what I was, and now am, I found self-love. Love of me just being me.

About four years ago, I decided to be honest with what I am and not worry about the consequences. I stopped worrying about the fear of people discovering that I was trans. The fear of rejection went away. If people didn’t like me for who and what I am, it meant they weren’t supposed to be in my life anyway. As a transperson, each of us have our own unique journey. I chose to start living my life by not denying my past. I have accepted there will people who don’t understand what I am, who don’t like me because of their fear of the unknown. My life is not a choice. If I had to choose to be the way I am, I wouldn’t have,  believe me. I’ve been threatened by violence, thought many times about suicide, and yet have survived. I am who I am, not anybody else.

Yes, it’s winter once again. And yes, I think about moving to someplace warmer. But I stop and think about all of my friends who live near me. My real friends, you in my tribe. And the greater pagan community. I give Hekate thanks every night for a good, safe day that I had. I awake every morning and give thanks to Her again for being alive. Thanks for the life I have. And I thank Hekate for the keys She has given me on my journey with Her. Especially the Key of Wisdom, so that I may live a life of truth! Hail Hekate!!!

Will I go stealth and silently move away? Probably not. I’m not trying to escape from myself or the world anymore. If I move somewhere, it will be for the right reasons, maybe even love!

Until next time, in the future. For whatever the Universe wants, not me.

About Brianne Ravenwolf
rianne Ravenwolf has identified as a Pagan from a very young age. She is an active member of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin. She volunteers her time there helping at most Full Moon Rituals, as well as some workshops, Circle events, and Sanctuary work days. At Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) last year, she became the first Pagan Transwoman to have the Senioring Rite of Passage. She follows a Hekatean Witchcraft Spiritual Path. To relax, she likes to walk, camp, and hike as much as possible in very rural areas. Brianne is also an avid reader, especially young adult novels. You can read more about the author here.
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