Christine D. Beatty: A New Woman

My first month in the VA was like being let out of prison. I hadn't been clean & sober that long since high school; I'd even managed to get high in Basic Training and jail. But my hope of a "normal" life faded; without drugs to supress them, my transsexual feelings overwhelmed me. The macho atmosphere of the VA was no place to confess this, so I wrote what became a memoir. Journaling didn't cure my feelings, and the rehab staff agreed they didn't have the means to properly treat me.

In late 1988 I moved into a clean & sober hotel in the Tenderloin, I worked a sobriety program, I was in gender counseling, and I was back on female hormones. In early 1989 I was a data entry clerk, then a bartender, and in May I was hired as an entry level computer programmer by a huge healthcare software company. I was still getting eletrolysis to clear my face, so I got the job as Chris the "man."

In August I celebrated one year sober. I was nearly ready to live full-time as Christine. I used the office Halloween party as a preview of the real me. Soon I told my manager Judy I was a transsexual under the care of a therapist. She liked my work and liked me personally, and when the division VP agreed to it, I began living 24/7 as a woman.

Being a gainfully employed taxpayer didn't stop the haters. People yelled "freak" and "faggot" from their cars all, store clerks smirked, and not even my mother accepted me. I knew I could lessen the hate if I looked less masculine. I got breast implants in 1990 and a chemical peel in 1991. Still the rejection continued, even in N.A. meetings.

I found a 12-Step group that accepted everyone: AA meetings for BDSM folks. I had done a little dominatrix work as a prostitute, but now I got into it as a form of protest against "normal" society. My attitude was if you embrace your wild side without shame, nobody can drag you down to their level. It actually became spiritual for me.

Late May of 1991 saw me reconnect with and be accepted by my mother. In August I celebrated three years sober. I was a valued employee at work, I was relearning guitar despite my crippled hand, and life was great.

Twelve months later I relapsed on heroin. I'd had clearance to obtain sex reassignment surgery, but every reputable doctor refused me because I was HIV-positive. And I was in such a dysfunctional relationship with the love of my life, that shooting heroin made perfect sense just then. She and I broke up, and somehow I didn't lose my job.