Christine D. Beatty: A New Woman

The VA rehab paroled me from drugs. I hadn't truly been clean & sober since early in high school—14 years earlier. (Neither Basic Training or jail kept me sober.) By October 1988, I realized I'd never be "normal." My gender dysphoria came surging back without using drugs to suppress it. I didn't dare confess this among my macho fellow veterans, so I wrote what turned into a memoir. Journaling didn't cure my feelings, and the VA staff admitted they didn't have the means to deal with it.

I moved into a clean & sober hotel in the Tenderloin, made lots of NA/AA meetings, started therapy, and got back on estrogen. I worked in data entry and as a bartender until May of 1989 when I was hired at what became my dream job: a programmer at a huge healthcare software company. By day I went to work as Chris the "man," but I planned to come out after eletrolysis fully cleared my face and chest.

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

Sadly, the hits to my self-esteem kept coming. People yelled slurs from their cars, random strangers belittled me, and even well-meaning people got confused. I hoped visible breasts would firmly declare my gender, so I got a boob job. It did lessen the rancor, and being happier with body was a relief. Still it discouraged me the rejection never stopped; not even my mother was ready to accept the new me.

I found a 12-Step group that welcomed everyone: AA meetings for BDSM folks. I had done some dominatrix work as a prostitute, but now I dove into that scene as a protest against "normal" society. My attitude was if you embrace your authentic self without shame, nobody can drag you down to their level. BDSM actually became almost 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.

In spring of 1992 I was set for sex reassignment, but no reputable surgeon would touch me because I was HIV-positive. And then my deep romance with a goddess of a woman turned highly toxic. Insanely, shooting heroin—at four years sober—made perfect sense to me. I soon went into detox, she and I broke up, and somehow I didn't lose my job.


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� Christine D.Beatty
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