Gender stealth: why transgender disclosure is not necessary

Dear Queer Radical,

The other night at the bar, I met this hot guy Larry…well…at least I thought he was a guy. I got him home and when he took off his pants, he had no dick. He was a tranny. I’m a gay guy. It’s not that I have a problem with trannies, but I’m a little disturbed he went stealth. What’s up with transgender people who feel like they can’t be out of the closet?  I’ve been out of the closet for 10 years and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Yours queerly,

Gay and Grumbling

Dear GG,

You’re using your bloated sense of pride to shame Larry--a guy whose identity your pea-sized brain seems to fail to comprehend. You are constructing a closet that is not relevant to his experience. You are dismissing his courage to express his gender because you don’t like the conclusions he’s come to. Your narrow mind is not his failure.

This word that you use—“stealth”—gets thrown around too much these days. You make Larry sound like some sort of Soviet-era spy, sneaking around in your dirty laundry, pretending to be the maid in your Fire Island mansion.

There is nothing sneaky about Larry taking his pants off without announcing, “Guess what! I’m a transgender man and I’m proud.” Why should he blather on-and-on about being trans, just to appeal to your narrow notion of sexuality and gender-expression? If he wants to, that’s his perogative. If not, no sweat. Suck his cock (yes G.G., Larry might very well have a cock that your dullard mind can’t comprehend) and get over it.

When he walked up to you, and you thought, “What a nice looking fellow,” he was out of his closet—as a guy. Indeed, people presenting their genders any way with which they feel most comfortable with demonstrates an absolutely valid, absolutely earnest, closet-free expression of the self. Why force people to do otherwise?

Let me be gentle and try to explain this a different way, despite my deep, deep, deep desire to pummel you, gloves off.

Let’s say you took a guy home who had a hairy ball-sack and hairy ball-sacks made you uncomfortable. Would you blame the guy with the bushy sack for not “admitting” it ahead of time, for not “disclosing?” Would you accuse him of being “in the closet?”

No, of course not. Either, you would be gracious and figure out a way to fuck that got you both off or you would decline gently, due to your own self-limiting desires.

Finally, you, a cis-guy (you know, a guy with a socially-normalized dick since birth—aren’t you authentic.), have no business throwing around the word “tranny” anymore than a straight person has any business calling you a faggot.

So what that you’ve been “out of the closet” as a gay man for a decade? Who cares? You’ve got a dick and you like dick. What do you want, a ribbon? This is not pre-Stonewall. You are not all that courageous.

Larry is a guy. You are a jerk. Get over it.

Queer Radical

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About author

Kyle Harris's picture

Kyle Harris is an editor at The Precarious, Co-Producer at Improbable Pictures, and author of the blog Queer Radical

Someone's picture
Someone (not verified) Mon, 11/21/2011 - 18:10

I understand transgender people have a lot of difficult hurdles to face in life, but what you're suggesting isn't going to happen. I'm going to assume a guy I meet in a bar doesn't have a vagina, in the same way a girl who meets me in a bar is going to assume I'm straight until she's corrected.

I appreciate that this is cissexist, but by being transgender, you fall into the category of "other". It's a horrid state of affairs and ideally there'd be a magic button you could flip to switch into the correct body to go with your gender, but as is, you're not going to have the expected genitals.

I don't mean to sound like one of those "hurr durr trannies are weird" cunts but there's a certain level of ciscentrism that... well, I suppose has to be put up with. Reading over what I've just typed makes me sound like a KKK member telling black people that they should "just deal" with racism, but you know the issue's more complicated then that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that as a cis-male you're trading on the image that you're 100% man. Not having a working set of male genitals detracts from that somewhat. It's crappy, but that's how it is. There's no reasonable way you can expect people to assume the guy they see in the bar may or may not have a penis when it's usually a given that the guy will have a penis.

Suppose I was going out with a guy who'd had his genitals crushed in an industrial accident? I'd expect him to mention this before we got to the stage where we were both in the bedroom and he revealed smushed remains. By its very nature, this is a delicate matter, because trans guys presumably would very much like to have a penis, but they don't, but... well, I'm going around in circles at this point.

If I meet a guy, I will assume he's a cis guy, because most guys are cis guys. If he's a trans guy, this is unexpected and is highly relevant to if and how we'd be having sex. Therefore, before we have sex, it seems important to me that he should mention he has ambiguous/female genitalia, because almost every single guy I meet will have male genitalia, so it would not be unreasonable for me to assume he also has male genitalia.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified) Tue, 07/02/2013 - 10:26

The problem with this entire train of thought is that it's based on the idea that a trans guys cock isn't male genitalia. If it's walking around attached to a man, then it is male genitalia. If it can give the person pleasure, then it is a working set of male genitalia. A part of the mystery of sleeping with a stranger from the bar is finding out about their body as you go. Yes, you can assume that all men have standard equipment, but that assumption is wrong and nobody is responsible for your incorrect assumptions but you. In this case the assumption may not be terribly unreasonable, but it's still presuming something about the shape of another persons body and it IS unreasonable to upset if that presumption isn't accurate.

To make a comparison, I happen to prefer men who have been circumcised. In America, my experience says that most men have been. If I go to a bar to pick up a guy, I might make the assumption that he has been circumcised. Maybe we met in a Jewish part of town, where 99% of guys are circumcised and that assumption is pretty fair. Now suppose this particular guy has foreskin, which I don't find out until his pants are off. Is it fair for me to be upset at the guy because he should have told me that his equipment wasn't what I expected before I committed to taking him home? It was my assumption that he was cut, but that's my responsibility, not his. You are fully within your rights to assume that hot guy at the bar is an outtie, but he's not responsible for that assumption any more than the uncut guy is responsible for mine.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified) Tue, 07/02/2013 - 10:27

The problem with this entire train of thought is that it's based on the idea that a trans guys cock isn't male genitalia. If it's walking around attached to a man, then it is male genitalia. If it can give the person pleasure, then it is a working set of male genitalia. A part of the mystery of sleeping with a stranger from the bar is finding out about their body as you go. Yes, you can assume that all men have standard equipment, but that assumption is wrong and nobody is responsible for your incorrect assumptions but you. In this case the assumption may not be terribly unreasonable, but it's still presuming something about the shape of another persons body and it IS unreasonable to upset if that presumption isn't accurate.

To make a comparison, I happen to prefer men who have been circumcised. In America, my experience says that most men have been. If I go to a bar to pick up a guy, I might make the assumption that he has been circumcised. Maybe we met in a Jewish part of town, where 99% of guys are circumcised and that assumption is pretty fair. Now suppose this particular guy has foreskin, which I don't find out until his pants are off. Is it fair for me to be upset at the guy because he should have told me that his equipment wasn't what I expected before I committed to taking him home? It was my assumption that he was cut, but that's my responsibility, not his. You are fully within your rights to assume that hot guy at the bar is an outtie, but he's not responsible for that assumption any more than the uncut guy is responsible for mine.

Kyle Harris's picture
Kyle Harris Mon, 11/21/2011 - 18:53

What do they say about assumptions...ah yes...you know...If you continue to make assumptions in the way that you indicate that you will, you will likely be shocked here and there. Perhaps instead of making assumptions about every guy you meet in a bar, you might consider having conversations about gender with each guy. These categories of "Cis" and "trans" leave a lot to be desired in terms of knowing how to have sex with someone, how one relates to gender and desire and how one likes to get it on. You might find that making less assumptions on your end will help everybody get off in the end.

no-vem-ber's picture
no-vem-ber (not verified) Tue, 11/22/2011 - 16:41

So in the course of your flirtation with a guy, you just casually bring up, what's your gender/sex? something tells me with the majority of guys that could possibly be construed as pretty offensive.

Kyle Harris's picture
Kyle Harris Tue, 11/22/2011 - 23:27

If someone at a bar asked me about my experience of gender and sex, I would perceive that as a first rate turn on. It's certainly better than some of the other pickup lines I've heard. Talking about gender and asking someone "What is your sex!?!" are two really different things. It wasn't that long ago that asking, "What's your HIV status?" seemed absolutely horrifying. "What's your relationship to safer sex? What does that mean to you?" is now commonplace pre-sex chat--even a turn on, a relief. "What are you into?" "What kind of touch do you like?" What's your experience with gender?" These aren't bad things to ask if you wanna be a good lay--no matter how you read somebody and how somebody identifies.

Katie Holton's picture
Katie Holton (not verified) Thu, 12/01/2011 - 03:07

If you're flirting with a guy, then you'd look like an idiot asking him what his gender/sex is. He's a guy. If you care, then the relevant question would be whether he has a dick or not.

I'm a trans woman who is also gay (lesbian for those who are keeping track). If a prospective lover asked me whether I was a woman, then you can be sure she'll never get to see what's under my skirt.

On the other hand, I do try to let potential lovers know what they're going to find before their hands go too far south of the belly button. I try, but some of those women are fast. It's not that I owe anyone disclosure. It's about what's going to make for a better experience for me. If someone is going to have an issue with my anatomy, I'd rather find out in the club, where I still have plenty of options, than back home, when it's too damn late to find someone more enlightened.

Martin's picture
Martin (not verified) Tue, 11/22/2011 - 00:29

As a trans man, I am very happy to see that a cis-guy gets it, Queer Radical. I happen to forget all the time, when flirting, that I am a trans man. And I have had times when things like this have happened, and lucky for me the guy, more often than not, goes with it and has a good time. I know it is hard to imagine being turned on by someones non standard equipment, but GG, you just have to broaden your horizons and expect the unexpected. Who knows, he might have rocked your world if you had let him.

Kyle Harris's picture
Kyle Harris Tue, 11/22/2011 - 09:59

Thanks Martin! And here's to world rocking!

Marq's picture
Marq (not verified) Thu, 06/21/2012 - 14:08

You're not a "trans man". You're a man. Plain and simple. I don't really like the term "trans" b/c it makes it seems as if something is wrong with you. You live your life as a man, you're just as much of as man as me, a natural born male.

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