Christine D. Beatty: Camouflage

Desperate to feel like everyone else—"normal"—I welcomed the strict homogeneity and camraderie of the military. After Basic Training, the Air Force sent me to tech school in rural Illinois. It was the start of a four-year party with other enlisted stoners. Finally, I fit in!

In fall of 1977 I was stationed at Williams AFB in the desert south of Phoenix, and began my new job of job repairing the avionic instruments of Air Force jets. I loved my job! I casually took up guitar in my spare moments. However, I still had one huge worry.

At 19, I'd finally lost my virginity in a Nevada brothel, one of my few stops on a 2000 mile, 56 hour drive from Illinois to California. And yet my social awkwardness persisted. My very few trysts over the next five years were mostly with hookers. But that wasn't the worst of it.

The evolution of my erotic fixation on women's clothes is detailed in my memoir, and it baffled and mortified me because I was so desperate to be "normal." I'd give into the compulsion for a few weeks until the guilt became unbearable, then I'd inter the clothes in a dumpster after midnight. I'd repress the urges a few months or weeks, and then break down and buy a new ensemble. Pot dulled my shame in the dress-up phase and helped mask my urges in the denial phase. I needed it constantly.

Rock guitar and singing also helped keep my compulsion at bay. I made friends with hippie musicians who let me sit in as a singer. Self-conscious about my short hair, I bought a wig to fit in with the band. Soon the wig became part of my crossdressing, which I carried to new levels and fantasized of turning into a girl. So much for the military making a man out of me! I felt more lost than ever.

I was honorably discharged in 1981. I stayed in Phoenix, smoking pot and occasionally working as an electrican. By summer of 1982 I was homeless, broke and on foodstamps. I escaped town when Mom wired me money to come back so I could help with her new house in San Francisco. Until autumn I lived at Mom's and worked for her, then moved in with my stepfather as a photography assistant. I was secure but so lonely...

Late in 1982 I met Greta, a lovely, brainy hippie gal. We quickly fell in love. The first time we made love I tearfully told her my shameful secret, assuring her I wanted to put it all behind me. We were engaged four months later. We moved in together, and I started a Computer Science degree program. I began to have hope I might be "Normal."

Wanting to do well in college I cut back on pot smoking, and the urges came back; I had to crossdress. Four months after we married I found a therapist's book that said crossdressing was harmless and incurable. With Greta's ambivalent support—hoping it would cure my obsession—I went to a drag bar called the Spirit Club dressed as a woman. That trip "cured" me... for all of three months.

My next public outing in drag was the 1984 Exotic-Erotic Halloween Ball four months later. I loved it! Marriage counseling came next, but the writing was on the wall. Whatever I was, I wasn't husband material. In 1985 we divorced and I moved to San Francisco.


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� Christine D.Beatty
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