I received an e-mail last night from a woman complaining that I had outed her on my blog. At first, I did not recognize her name and did not believe that I had ever mentioned her here. But, after doing a search, and asking her to direct me to the post in question, I found where, indeed, her name appears. It appears not in my writing, but rather, in the text of something that I found on the Internet and had quoted. However, out of an abundance of caution and to be most fair to her, I have removed her name from the post (not that it couldn't still be found by any dutiful person, especially a lawyer or law student -- the majority of people who read this blog). At a minimum, this will provide her with one less "hit" should someone choose to do a search on her name.
But, her e-mail to me was kind of mean and it accused me of "outing" her on purpose, suggesting that I see myself as some sort of "third sex", and have no right to impose that, nor its visibility upon her. Further, she said my actions were "in the poorest of taste" and that I might not have "feelings in regards to anyone else".
I posted about outing last year. In that post, I argued that we should not purposefully out someone, despite my strong belief that being closeted hurts both the person in the closet and society in general. Each person should be free to make this choice for themselves. The problem, of course, is that -- especially with transsexuals -- it is very difficult to not leave a trail for someone to discover, despite your wishes. Consider Lynn Conway, for example. She lived much of her life, over 30 years, in "stealth mode", before someone discovered her past and outed her. Now, she is an active and respected woman who has done amazing work for trans people and her community.
The woman that was named in the article I quoted has been in the closet in excess of 25 years and says she has adopted kids from whom she wishes to keep keep her past a secret. But, she was fired for being transsexual and she took it to court. Someone, doing research on transsexuals in case law found her case and incorporated it into an article. She, arguably, outed herself with her decision to go to the public forum of the courts to seek redress from being fired. I completely applaud her actions in fighting for her rights; I hope she sees that such action brings risk with it.
Nevertheless, I wish this woman the very best of luck in keeping her past and her identity a secret. And, more than that, I hope that if her secret ever comes out that her adopted children and any other significant people in her life will continue to value her as a person. The risks in that situation are impossible for outsiders to judge. If she discloses now, she may run the risk of rejection. If she fails to disclose, but is discovered, she may also run the risk of rejection -- but perhaps on other grounds, such as a lack of faith in the love of her family. I wish her well.