Outing and Stealth | Pride Project

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. The links I will be leaving today are to three Instagram posts of black queer and trans organizations to support. Check them out, they’re very varied!

Today, I want to talk about outing and stealth. Of course, this is in the context of the queer community. This is more of a 101 knowledge thing, I haven’t really seen this in ASL so that’s why I’m making this.

Outing is when someone discloses a person’s sexual orientation or gender without their consent. This is an issue of privacy, choice, and it can be very harmful to that person. People who get outed against their will can lose their jobs, be rejected by their social circle, disowned by their family. Of course, there has been ongoing debate over outing public figures. There is a history of celebrities, politicians, and the elite being forced out of the closet. This was often done under the idea that it was necessary for all queer people to be out of the closet to show people we’re everywhere. The problem with that is many people are in an unsafe environment, maybe with family who will immediately kick them out onto the streets, they could lose their living, and so on. 

Outing has often been done with harmful intent and aiming to damage a person’s reputation, but there have been some cases where it was considered appropriate. An example would be of queer politicians who are actively working against LGBT rights. In 2006, a Congressman said, “I think there’s a right to privacy. But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. And people who want to demonize other people shouldn’t then be able to go home and close the door and do it themselves.” There are arguments for outing and against outing, in what context it’s appropriate and when it’s not. Either way, outing in general is frowned upon in the queer community if it’s a person who is just trying to live their life. And outing can be very harmful, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Trans and queer people get killed over this. People use the “panic” defense to justify killing someone they didn’t know was trans or queer. Outing someone exposes them to more potential harm, physical or mental.

Now, let’s talk about stealth and what that means in relation to the queer community. Disclaimer first. There is debate over the use of the terms stealth and passing, which I will explain. I’m making this because it’s terminology people need to know because it is still used in the queer community. Stealth is essentially when a trans person decides that they want to live their lives as their gender, and not have anyone in their life know that they’re trans. They choose to hide their past, don’t easily tell others about the fact that they’re trans. This usually happens when someone is “passing” as the gender they are. Passing means that someone is seen as the gender they are, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. The problem with the term passing, as said by trans writer Janet Mock, the term is “based on an assumption that trans people are passing as something that we are not” and that a trans woman who is perceived as a woman “isn’t passing; she is merely being.” GLAAD has also said it’s inappropriate for the mainstream media to use this term unless it’s a direct quote. There are people who dislike both terms, stealth and passing, because they can imply trans people are being dishonest about who they are and engaging in deception.

There are many reasons why someone would choose to not be visibly trans. They may not want to deal with all of the intrusive questions trans people inevitably get about their genitals. They want to simply live their lives and don’t feel a need to be a loud and visible part of the queer community. They live in a region where it’s dangerous or illegal to be out as a trans person. They experience less prejudice and discrimination if they’re not openly trans. They don’t want to remember the part of their lives before their transition, because it’s too traumatic. They may be comfortable being openly trans with their friends, but not at work or in professional environments because of discrimination. Side note – yes, it’s great news that SCOTUS ruled that employees can’t be fired for being queer, but there will be people who choose to stay hidden at work because the workplace itself might be not safe and will find other reasons to fire them.

I know this barely touches on all of the things that could be discussed about both outing and being stealth. I haven’t even talked that much about the history of outing and how it came to be a big thing. Like I said earlier, this is just a 101, introductory video. These are *very* complex things. If you have any questions or want to know more, let me know in the comments. Also do your own research! That will be all for today.

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Black queer and trans organizations to support

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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