Christine D. Beatty: Typical-ish

Born as a baby boy in 1958, I have witnessed incredible social and technological changes: civil rights, the space race, political turmoil, the rennaisance of music and movies, and the Computer Age, to name a few. Yet, despite all of this massive change taking place in the world, none of it prepared me for the changes yet to come within me.

In an early draft of my memoir, I described my upbringing as that of a "typical, middle-class boy." However, it really wasn't. My father's parents were rich, but they believed in self-reliance. My father worked long hours to establish his own success without help from his family. His business eventually put a strain on the marriage but it did afford me and my younger siblings a parochial school education in our hometown of San Mateo, a bedroom suburb twenty miles south of San Francisco.

By the time I was nine my parents regularly fought at night. Between Mom's hippie sensibilites and Dad's absences, their 1967 divorce seemed preordained. Their separation wrought new anxities, and I already had plenty of those. Transsexuals often know from childhood that they’re trapped in the wrong body, but I felt like I was trapped on the wrong planet. From nursery school on, I felt like I’d been left out.

As the divorce strained finances, in 1970 I tranfered to public middle school. As the new kid they sized me up, crowding me and daring me to fight. I had no experience with this alien behavior, no macho boyskills to cope with it. I had taken to heart the peace and love message of the hippies, so the bullying was traumatic. I became a loner, growing out my hair to declare my hippie ideals.

I was seldom certain of myself; I never knew how to act as a guy, never dated or went to dances or anything. I'd have been lost were it not for the computer terminals in the library. I loved computer programming; I could do it alone and it was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn't a loser. For a while I hung with other outcasts and discovered marijuana as the cure for shyness and insecurity. But I was still a sissy. After several bullyings, I again becamse a loner. Gratefully, I graduated in January of 1976, a semester early.

Three weeks after starting junior college I dropped out and took a shop labor job making minimum wage at my father's scaffolding company. I moved in with a coworker. Though I could now afford it, I didn't start getting stoned every day until after my first adult gay sexual affair. Not long after my 18th birthday my new roommate came onto me. Within two weeks I broke off the affair, consumed with guilt.

Smoking pot stifled my misgivings, so I smoked all day long. There was little I couldn't do when I was stoned. Yet I knew I was going nowhere; I didn't know who I was or what I wanted to do. A mailer from an Air Force recruiter suddenly made perfect sense. With so much to prove, I enlisted, and in February 1977, I left for Basic Training in Texas.