Christine D. Beatty: Transsexual

In May of 1985 I moved to the Tenderloin, the "TL," where rent was cheap and many transwomen lived: a whole new world opened up to me. Convinced I was a transsexual (TS), I sought treatment, however the city-run clinic required six months evaluation before they'd prescribe female hormones. My new best friend Misty was a TS beauty who tended bar at the Spirit Club. Misty's doctor gave me an estrogen injection and hormone pills. With my journey begun I took a new name: Pamela.

I envied Misty's lack of a beard; I had started painful and expensive electrolysis that I despaired would take forever. My greatest fear was I'd never look good enough as a woman. Until autumn I went out as Pamela only at night and almost always to the Spirit Club. The other transwoman's bar was the Black Rose, where the pros hung out and turned tricks. I always felt so ugly in there. I would never be as pretty!

Seldom did the world receive Pamela well. Strangers mocked and cursed me. I was isolated from my family and I lost my few friends. Meanwhile I needed only two more classes to earn my AA degree. I cleaned houses during the day, and at night I attended class. I also began to dabble in prostitution. It paid far better than maid work and it was a rebellion against the straight world that rejected me. By December I had enough confidence to try turning tricks out of the Black Rose.

When I went to class as Pamela even teachers openly smirked at me, which hurt more than the abuse on the street. My grades suffered, but somehow I held on to finish the semester and graduate with honors. My only hope for success was to live full-time as Pamela, keep working on my appearance, and prepare for the university. However, when I told my housecleaning supervisor I would start working as a woman, I was fired.

After a short, ugly apprenticeship working the bar and streetcorners, I took out an ad and began lucrative incall/outcall prostitution. I threw myself into guitar and singing, and looked musicians who'd accept me, unlike my former "friends." Eventually I met and fell in love with Nola. She wasn't a great bass player, but she was intelligent and a gifted artist. And I'd never seen a more beautiful transsexual woman.

Hooking lost its thrill. Other than the not-so-easy money, its only appeal was the praise from my johns in contrast to the daily abuse on the street. Only my deepening friendship with Nola buoyed my spirits, though her occasional shot of heroin worried me a little. I shrugged it off because I'd fallen in love. I soon tried it myself. I thought I'd found GOD. Heroin and Angel Dust became my go-to drug for depression.

As my heroin habit grew fat, I periodically considered killing myself the way normal girls consider going on a diet. Instead I gave up on my transition. The self-betrayal of stopping female hormones brought me agonizing depression. During a PCP episode I sheared my beautiful long hair to the roots and wound up in Psych Emergency. Only Nola's love gave me a reason to live, which I planned to do as her husband. I'd get placed into a computer job and we'd live happily ever after. I hoped.

I had cowardly killed off the best part of me. I'd never known self-hatred like that. So when I tested positive for HIV I almost actually welcomed the news. Only Nola made me want to live. In December, 1986 I had a violent PCP blackout that mutilated my left hand and landed me in jail. I waited three months in county jail for a VA rehab that would take me, and the felony charges were eventually dropped.

In January of 1988, University of SF hired me as a computer programmer. I'd never earned so much money, but I desperately missed womanhood. My income afforded a heroin habit beyond my wildest dreams, and within five months I lost my job and was headed toward an early death. Finally I went into another VA drug rehab and Nola went into a sober living.