Christine D. Beatty: Awakening

When I promoted our hit Farmclub song in mid-2001, I was surprised to find so many transsexual support groups online—many of the younger TSs called themselves "transgender." There was hours and days of browsing material. With our band winding down I had more time to explore the Internet. Then I ran into an article about an A-List surgeon who would perform Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) on otherwise healthy patients.

After I stopped crying, I immediately called his office for details. As long as my main doctor okayed me for surgery, I was a candidate. I'd been saving up for over a decade, so all I needed was a surgery date. On Halloween of 2002, I went under the knife and woke up with a vagina. My mother had flown up to Portland to support me, welcoming me as her new daughter. I had never been happier in my entire life.

Five months later, I underwent laser resurfacing to heal the ancient thermolysis damage on my face. The recovery was uncomfortable, but the results took a decade off my forty-five-year-old face. In 2004 I was in the cast of an all-transgender production of the Vagina Monologues, with Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler in the front row. I'd recently completed my first novel and mentioned it to Ms. Fonda backstage. She was quite gracious about what must have sounded like a movie pitch.

I had written articles for periodicals and several books, had done many public readings, but I knew nothing about screenwriting. I enrolled in the feature film screenwriting program at UCLA, and completed it in December. Still restless, I reconnected with the BDSM community in Los Angeles. I also got back into activism after ten years of being away. Most of all I wanted to finish the final step of transition.

The surgeon who performed my SRS also offered a group of procedures called Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). It involves sculpting facial bone to more typically feminine contours. In my case, the surgeon shaved down the brow ridge at my eyebrows, reducing the squareness of my jaw and smoothing the bridge of my nose. I looked hideous for a few days, but my own brother didn't recognize me a year later in 2006.

The screenplays I'd developed since UCLA hadn't sold, so I returned to book writing. As the decade ended I was nearly 14 years sober, I had 8 years off of nicotine, and I'd survived hepatitis-C chemo. My memoir was finally ready to market, and I'd obtained a literary manager. At fifty-years-old I was fully at peace and felt like I was ready for a new chapter in my life, whatever it may be.