Based on a true story. He was a man of national note, a conservative Republican Christian 40 years older, and I was private, a liberal Democrat Jewish transsexual. Joe was former Lockheed Skunk Works, who helped make the first two Air Force Ones for President Eisenhower and who was Department Manager of Engineering Flight Test over the U-2 and the SR-71; I was a social worker and, before that, in the National Security Agency, NSGA, NSOC, SIGINT, Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Shadow Life: Aerospace, Love, and Secrets is a beautiful romance between two people in a mixed marriage, fighting to stay together, corrects popular misconceptions about transgender and transsexual living, and makes a suggestion. I’ve been in this since the 1970s, I’ve lived the life, and I’ve helped others. Inspired by Kenji Yoshino (Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, 2006), I’m concerned about the current direction of the transgender paradigm: It’s still hiding key stigmata.
I’ve done it myself. I tried to keep my sexuality away from other people, but there is no such thing as actual stealth living. People knew. I wouldn’t discuss it, and my husband and I caught hell for years. Now I see most transgender people doing the same thing in another way, unwittingly enabling prejudice and opposition they don’t handle any better than I did. It’s not the fact they’re transgender they’re hiding but what they really need or desire.
The transgender movement is winning access to places most don’t even want to go, where disrobing is required. If they can’t say it, they can’t show it. So they don’t go, marginalizing themselves into a less than equal integration, furthering lack of awareness, preventing equal employment, and where it’s discovered during sex, possibly even incurring surprise violence or murder.
Trans people can never fully integrate into society if we’re embarrassed to embrace ourselves. Leaders of the social movement cannot advocate for something they downplay. They need to bring these issues to the fore, not leave them to serve as doubt and denial, not relegate them to the periphery or treat questions as offensive. Rhetoric must be as clear in media as physiques in locker rooms so that those who are interested may more fully integrate. I’ve waited 20 years for leaders to do so. Most of them don’t, so I did, herein. Shadow Life is explicit.