Harvey Milk, Stealth, and Thanksgiving

I've been wavering back and forth about stealth, and whether I should go that way. You know "stealth?" Meaning that I would fly under society's radar, letting nobody know about my sex change, letting everybody think that I am a woman that was born with a vagina? Then this Thanksgiving morning I read this article in the San Jose Mercury News commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Harvey Milk. I'm still wavering on the stealth thing. I'm not preaching that anybody is wrong for choosing stealth. But this morning I am feeling mighty Out and Proud.

It's got nothing to do with the fact that I've simply had a physical birth defect corrected. It's got nothing to do with whether I have anything in common with gays or with transgenders. It's got everything to do with the fact that society discriminates against me and my transsexual sisters and brothers in so many devastating ways. It's got everything to do with making things easier for myself, my trans siblings, and the next trans generation. It's got everything to do with creating a society, which I believe I will see in my time, when "Stealth or Out?" is not even a momentary consideration because nobody gives a damn if a person has been treated for transsexualism—but they care deeply about getting transsexualism treated before puberty. "We're here, we're everywhere, and we're proud of who we are," the article quotes from Randy Shilts' biography of Milk. That applies to us just as well as it ever applied to gays.

"You gotta give 'em hope," Harvey used to say. Harvey gave hope to a generation of gays by being Out and Proud, and look at the progress they've made in the last twenty-five years. Look at the progress they're going to make in the next year, with marriage legalized in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage, not only in our lifetime, but in six months—imagine that! Twenty-five years later, Harvey Milk has given me hope. I'm no Harvey Milk, but maybe I can give hope to a few, too.

On this Thanksgiving day I am thankful that being Out and Proud doesn't take the courage that Harvey had and the sacrifice that Harvey made twenty-five years ago. Thanks to Christine Jorgensen, Deirdre McCloskey, Lynn Conway, Andrea James, Calpernia Addams, Dana Rivers, Jamie Faye Fenton, and all those others who went before me, I can be Out and Proud with only small personal loss; and it is more than offset by the pride, joy, love I feel. It's nice Out today; I think I'll stay Out.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and loved ones.

Lannie Rose

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