Author’s note: I originally, and advertised as such, was going to put up a post regarding new research from Europe regarding empathy being a ‘switch’ of sorts for psychopaths. Having written and queued it for today, I forgot about it only to find out that a much more specialized (in psychopathy) blog had beaten me to the punch and, frankly, I respect them too much to give appearances of piggy-backing. So, if you are looking for insight on this new research, check out their blog. I may resurrect my post for filler in the future.
How, if at all, does one disclose a core, but repugnant to some, component of their being? How do I disclose to others that my voice, my mannerisms, my gait, and so forth betray what is between my legs? Do I disclose at all, or do I keep others in the dark? As a transgenderist, these are questions I face all the time. Being both part of such a marginalized stratum of people and being myself a psychopath play roles in answering that question.
It is a blessing and a curse that transgender people are the outcasts and forgotten of the modern LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement. The curse is that we do not receive the same resources and focus that lesbians and gay men do – bisexuals have a similar problem to that of transgenderists, so I will exclude them from this discussion. Whereas people are more apt to march and press for social rights on the basis of sexual orientation, many are not so prone, either due to vitriol or ignorance, to do the same on the basis of gender identity. The blessing is that we are often forgotten as possible wraiths in the shadows; a person is far more likely to evaluate a stranger’s sexual orientation than their gender identity. Now, the cost of being transgender and being found out by the wrong people can be devastating. You can be assaulted; you can have your head bashed in with a fire extinguisher. So for the transgenderist, it is very important to know the motives of the person they are debating disclosing to.
I used to do community work for an LGBT-focused organization. There, I found it imperative to disclose. As I mentioned above, transgender people tend to be forgotten as part of the LGBT movement. I would attempt to quell stereotypes of transgenderists and educate the lesbians and gay men that I would meet on the plight that we face. I would do this even though I am by no means the model transgenderist. As an aside, I do promise to give the full story regarding that at some point in the future. However, the point is that in that case, disclosing made sense and served a purpose that I was invested in at the time. And that is the key for whether I choose to disclose. There must be something in it for me. I recall at a past job, coming out to someone that I evaluated could be a friend. I did this because people, specifically people who are not transphobic (for the purposes of this point), tend to allow you to get closer when you reveal something perceived to be true and personal about yourself. Most are not psychopaths and will not use that information for their own self-serving purposes. However, with others at that job, even though I was very close to them, I did not. It is not that I feared that they would use the information against me or for other ill-purposes, but there was no immediate gain for doing so. Certainly, there are obvious cases where a transgender person should not disclose such as with Human Resources in a socially-conservative area (if they are blessed with the legal anatomical sex they desire) and I will not address those here.
I’m sure I differ from many transgenderists with how and when I choose to disclose. I am no longer trying to further the transgender cause, although I still sympathize with it, and I do not feel the heavy weight of holding my sex as a secret that many transgenderists do. Disclosing must have an immediate, or predicted, self-serving gain. Ultimately I believe deciding whether to disclose should come down to three considerations: 1) Is there a gain for the one disclosing? 2) Is there a gain for a cause championed by the one disclosing? 3) Is the weight of having such a secret truly unbearable? For me, all I consider is 1). I used to care about the larger cause, but I am no more important to it and it no more important to me than a single bee is to a jar of honey. Together the bees can fill that jar, but a single bee is, for all purposes, inconsequential. Life is a game and there will be winners and losers. Rather than considering who wins and who loses, I choose to focus on whether I win or lose, and I win when I disclose solely to further my own agenda.