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    My earliest memory of my gender plight occurred somewhen just prior to entering kindergarten, and I can make no claim to knowing my exact age, but I reason that it must have been near the age of five or so.

    I was playing in the living room of my mother’s house in Baker Oregon, at 1636 1st street. It must have been a summer, because this was the only time we lived in the house, my father being a cartographer for the USGS. Most summers he left on special mapping excursions, leaving my mother and I in her little house, but this summer he was still with us. I was playing with my many stuffed animals, among them my favorite, Lilly the Leopard, a largish bespotted doll who was my best friend. I had made a little house of blankets and was setting about taking care of my little family in miniature. My father was sitting, possibly reading, behind me. Through the kitchen archway came my mother to announce that ‘You boys should get ready for dinner now’ and in that frozen moment, something occurred in my young consciousness.

    My dad was certainly a boy, as were many of the children I had known, and my mom was a girl, as was the children I preferred to play with, but it offended me somehow to be included with my dad in being called a boy. I knew I did not act like boys did, and that is what bothered me most. Boys were mean, they hit, they shouted, they liked to bang things together, and when they were big, like my dad, they were very mean and often full of punishment, as well as scary. I was not that. I knew that I was like my mom, that I was like the girls I played with. I did not like being called a name that I felt was icky. I told my mother this.

    I do not exactly remember what occurred after this declaration, but I do know that it frightened and hurt me somehow. Perhaps they were appalled, perhaps my father yelled at me, which would be an expected behavior, as would a spot of hitting me, but whatever it was, it definitely traumatized me. Thus was my earliest conscious knowledge of my gender dysphoria revealed to me.

    Kindergarten afforded my next accessible memory of conflict over my gender. Early in the morning, the teacher asked the class to line up, boys on one side and girls on the other, for some sort of game. I stood with the girls, of course. When this caused the predictable problem, I threw quite a tantrum, and the teacher, at a loss, had me stand in the venetian-slatted closet until ‘She said so’. I stood there, crying, seeing the classroom through thin wooden slats, for most of the day. I believe I was only let out at lunchtime.

    My father Leonard, the mapmaker, had to travel, and thus so did I and my mother. First we lived in apartments, then eventually in a 40 foot long trailer. Throughout my life until high school, I would never call any town home  for longer than six months. I had lived in seven different states by the age of seven, and this number would only increase, albeit only on the western half of the US.  My father was an ambitious, selfish, brilliant, and utterly despicable man. Of genius level intelligence, he achieved some fame in chess circles as a professional instructor and coach, and was the subject of several newspaper articles because of a stunt he would pull. He was capable of playing twelve simultaneous games of chess, blindfolded, remembering the moves and layout of all the boards at the same time, and calling out moves. Even more amazing is that he generally won nine out of the twelve. While the caliber of my fathers intellect could not be questioned, his ethics and behavior certainly could.

    My father never had a friend in his life, using mock friendship only so long as it led to career advancement, dumping individuals once he had climbed above them. He was exceedingly violent, and I lost many pairs of glasses to being struck across the room to smash into a wall. He would generally not attack my mother physically, because she had kept her considerable inheritance separate from him, and he coveted it, indeed it was the reason he had married her, a woman fifteen years his senior. The only concern of my father was to make appearances so as to advance, and the watchwords of our family were “Never Let The Neighbors Know”.

    My mother, Margaret, was kind and doting until near my tenth year of life. At this point something failed in her, and she collapsed into a depressed and weak state, pathetic and useless for almost anything. She was constantly apologizing for having had me very late in life – she had given birth to me at the age of 48 – and felt shame for ‘cursing’ me with an ‘elderly mother’. She hated my father but was utterly dependent on him, and took out her misery by an insidious form of mental torture, applied only to me. Her pleasure was to initiate an emotional conflict with me, over anything she could devise, or failing a constructed reason, nothing at all. Her goal was to fight to a crescendo, then to have me collapse in tears and utter submission, whereupon she would instantly become consoling and loving.

    One time, probably at age 14,  I deliberately withheld this cathartic release, by remaining utterly emotionless, like my hero of the time, Mr. Spock from Star Trek, and observed what would happen. She became increasingly frantic, and for the first time resorted to purely physical threat, brandishing a kitchen knife whilst screaming like someone insane. I was intelligent enough to immediately collapse in terrified bawling and supplication, and, like a light switch she became instantly mellow and terribly, terribly comforting of her little baby.

    I never dared break the cycle of torture again, having determined to my own satisfaction her reason for doing it. It was a game I never, ever will allow myself to be forced to play again. Unfortunately, young children are the prisoners of their parents.

    To say that my parents provided no role model for me, male or female, would be an understatement.

    Throughout very early grade school, I became first a kind of celebrity, then quickly a pariah, because of my difference. In the first four grades, I was always the first to join a dance, or the first to help the teacher. I was forever inventing games and activities for the other children. It did not hurt that I was considered a child prodigy either, and this all resulted in great, if short lived, popularity for me. The second grade class of Chelan Falls in Washington was so moved that they sent me an enormous fan package after I had moved away, filled with cards and gifts to say they missed me. It was apparently the class project. I suppose I was excused my flamboyant behavior by the mystique of being a prodigy. A second grade child who had memorized the proper names of every bone in the human body, and who knew astronomy at a high school level, could be forgiven almost anything. While I was excruciatingly well mannered, I was exceedingly girlish, but as my mother once put it, it was somewhat expected that a child labeled a genius would act a bit delicate.

    Being exceptional did not save me for long. By fifth grade onward, I increasingly became the brunt of teasing, exclusion, and violence. Called everything from sissy to faggot, beaten and rejected, I was of course scolded for not fighting back. Being the target of bullies became a standard of my life wherever we moved, and I was fortunate to even have one friend in each new school I attended. I lost the open and gregarious nature I had once had, and became a shy, inhibited, and fearful recluse, a trait that remains to this day.

    One child, who had made a career of torturing me from my first day, was finally sat down and asked why, in my presence, he had such an obsession with my destruction. He simply was unable to answer. He fumblingly tried to express that there was something about me that made me different, something that made him feel funny when he saw that difference. He hated that feeling, so he had to hurt me. This little session did not stop my persecution, of course, but it did let me have an insight into the reasons for my endangerment.

    I found that the increasing conflict occurring over my true gender versus my physical sex was becoming very painful. How I stood, how I sat, how I spoke and the mannerisms of my expression, all became terrible issues to my parents, my teachers, and very much to other children. Even the fact that I always sat down to urinate became a problem, as did my love of colorful and frilly clothing. Soon I danced and sang no more. I feared the constant teasing and embarrassment that resulted from my every action or commentary. I was afraid to laugh lest I be teased for how it sounded, I was fearful of description, for it necessitated holding my hands behind me carefully, deliberately, lest I be chastised for waving them about. I confined my emotions, and forcibly contained my happy exuberance or my tear filled joys or sadness.

    I became ingrained with absolute terror at the thought of being called a ‘fag’ or a ‘queer’. I was inculcated with narrow attitudes and seemingly infinite self loathing. To be considered a ‘sissy’, especially because I knew I was one, was unbearable. It became standard for me to cringe in embarrassment at the merest mention of such terrible words. I was shriveled and blasted by hatred and intolerance. Nothing imaginable could be worse than anyone knowing what I really was.

    A strange thing occurred to my mind, born of this absolute terror of discovery and self loathing. I was too psychologically broken to face admitting my gender identity to even myself, and it was a basic impossibility to ignore it. This paradox created a mental division between my inner truth and the outer lie I felt hopelessly forced to perform. My mind split, and I increasingly lived two separate mental states, one aware of my gender problem, the other all but ignorant of the reason for it’s endless suffering.

    I rapidly began to withdraw, and to hide any part of myself that dared be honest about my true gender.
    I hid even from my day-to-day conscious self, with the female truth of my identity stepping to awareness less and less.

    By the age of nine I was exceedingly withdrawn, and much of my natural behavior was controlled and affected, all for the sake of avoiding hurt. Still, I hurt inside, and felt forever stifled and trapped. Strange neurotic behaviors began to evidence themselves. I became obsessed with the fear of loss or change. I was distraught for days over the destruction of a little paper doll I had created to comfort me when my father took away my beloved stuffed animals at the age of ten. My father was forever trying to ‘make a man’ out of me, and he felt that needing to sleep with a stuffed animal was akin to ax murder, at least with regard to me. I cried and raged if even a billboard of my ‘home’ town of Baker was changed during my nine month absences, for that summer sanctuary was the only constant in my life, and the only place I could get away from my father. Getting away from my father was important, for the weakness of my mother was of some slight comfort to me. She had not the heart to enforce my father’s draconian rules.  When she and I were alone for the duration of the summer, I might hope to have my stuffed animals back, or grow my hair a little long, or even to wear a brightly colored shirt...perhaps even pink. All this, so long as it was ended before we returned to my dread father.

    As self suppressing as I was, my true self still found ways to come out to me. One way was in an obsession, at the age of 15, with the Disney movie ‘Bambi’. I became absolutely enslaved to the picture, though not to the whole film. What owned me, was the early life of Bambi. The little deer, the ’Prince of the Forest’ appeared about as cute and little girl like as it is possible for any animator to draw. Bambi did not look, or act, like a boy. Young Bambi was in every way an innocent idealization of my core self, utterly female, sweet and kind and gentle. I watched the movie, over and over again. I stole money from my mother’s coin jars to pay for admission. I snuck in a tape recorder to tape the sound of the movie so I could listen to it at night, every night. 14 times in a row, twice per day, sometimes thrice, I went to the theatre just blocks from our house in Baker. Exhausted and zombie like, hollow-eyed like some intravenous drug fiend, I stumbled to buy my next admission. Each and every time, I cried continuously through the Young Bambi half of the film. I sometimes left after that, the rest of the picture offered me nothing. Young, little girl Bambi was a perfect reflection of the essence of my soul, a little girl trapped under the label of being a boy. Delicate, infinitely feminine Bambi, was my soul on celluloid.

    Although increasingly repressed, my gender issues always seemed to affect every aspect of my life. They especially affected my play. I always preferred the company of other girls, when they would permit it. The few boys I played with either became fast if temporary friends, with whom I spent endless hours discussing science fiction or the nature of reality: were ghosts real? Did UFO’s Exist? Was there life after death? What did it all mean? Sometimes I developed impossible crushes on those boys.

    One time, around the age of eight or nine, a neighbor boy tried to teach me about something he was shocked to find out I had barely heard of, and cared less about, G. I. Joe. I knew enough to know it was icky, but that was it. No, G. I. Joe was really cool. I should come see. Or was I a fag? I came to see.
    I kind of liked the fact that Joe was like a doll, but he was an awfully ugly doll. He had a scar and everything. He did have a large wardrobe, but it was all pretty dull, all olive greens and tans. I rather liked the bright silver space suit Joe and Mercury Capsule, because I loved NASA, but what was with all of these guns?

    He took me out to play on the sidewalk. Apparently the idea was that we were to use the guns to shoot at each other and use the bayonet like this: UHGH! UHGH! We were enemies and this was the big war. Something in me just curdled. I felt sick. This was really bad. It smelled of evil, of bad things and bad people and scary stuff. It was like the war on the news every night. It was about getting hurt and hurting people. I dropped my Joe like it was poison. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not want to play with him, or his toys, ever, ever again. This was sick, this was bad. I ran home crying while he called me a sissy, a mamma’s boy and a fag, fag, fag.

    Of course my father would not let me have any of the toys I really wanted. I never wanted Barbie dolls, because they seemed so hard and  weird looking. I liked soft, cute dolls. I wished I could have my stuffed animals back. I used a magic marker on my feather pillow...I have it to this day...and drew big googly eyes and a happy smile on it. Under the cover, no one could tell, but I knew. Now my pillow was ‘Pu Pu Pillow’ and he was my friend. I held Pu Pu tight against my body. While I slept. I always slept with my leg over Pu Pu, holding my pillow enfolded in my arms and my legs, surrounding it. I sleep that way to this day.

    One time my mother took pity on me and made me a little sock creature as a stuffed long as I kept it hidden. It had ping pong eyes and looked like a cucumber covered with yarn hair. I loved it anyway, but my dad found out and destroyed it while I watched. This was supposed to help make a man of me too.

    I was desperate for cute toys, but I became far too frightened to even ask anymore. One toy was just too much. Mattel released something wonderful called “Upsey Downsey”. The “Happydiculous World Of The Upsey Downsies” was all of my little girl dreams come true. There were a multitude of individual play sets, each complete with a cardboard play mat, various items like little pink bridges and bright purple flowers, and adorable, almost anime styled, fluffy headed dolls and their pets. The little soft, rubbery dolls were very well made, with bright colorful faces and bendable waists so as to fit into their little ladybug cars and piggy bank fire engines. They came with names like Dally Dilly and Baby So High, and they even had a mythology! The world of the Upsey Downsies was a planet of dandelion puffs. The great Huff, a godlike wind, came and sneezed on the world, blowing all of the dandelions into the sky. The puffs fell back. The ones that fell through a rainbow, became the Upsies, little cuties with rainbow colored afros. The puffs that fell through a storm cloud became the downsies, and walked on their hands, but were still full of love even if they were mixed up. Everybody loved everybody in the land of Upsie Downsey, and all of the little playsets could be joined together to form one huge world, arranged anyway you desired, providing there was enough floor space.

    This was too much for my little girl self to help. It obsessed me like Jihad to a Muslim.

    I could not bear to use my allowance to buy my first set myself. On a trip to the stores with a friend, I begged and pleaded for one of the girls I played with to buy it for me while I hid in my mother’s car. I cringed down in the back seat so no one could see me. My heart pounded. My mom did not want me to have it in the first place, what would my father say. But I was absolutely obsessed, and when I become obsessed, nothing stands in my way long.

    I was so embarrassed. I was terrified that someone might notice that it was I who had asked for my friend to go into the store to buy my playset. I was sure everyone in the parking lot knew that I wanted a girls toy. I could barely breath from nervousness and excitement.

    My mother and my little friend came back. She thought I was being really weird, why couldn’t I just go buy the toy, I had the money. My mother was upset that I wanted it, especially this bad. She insisted that if I were going to buy such a toy that I had to face doing it myself, maybe it would teach me a lesson. Ready to go?

    NO! I would have that toy! It was too pretty, too beautiful! I had to have Dally Dilly! She was yellow and had a footmobile friend and a little green fence and everything! O.K. Then! But get it over with damnit!
    I slunk, mortally embarrassed but determined, behind my confused friend and my upset mother. My neck bent 90 degrees, I saw my own feet and nothing else, save for the furtive peek. I faced Dally. Dally Faced me. I could not bear to hold such girlish wonder in public. Please, I begged my friend, please buy it for me. Even she was annoyed now and grabbed my treasure and stomped to the counter. She plunked the money that I had given her down and Dally Dilly was in a bag. My mother looked strangely disturbed. Out we tromped. I stared at my feet.

    At the car, I could not wait to hold my bag. Here! Jeez have it! I sat in the back and stared at the glory in my hands. It was mine, really mine. I was too happy to be embarrassed for awhile.

    For Christmas, all I wanted was the Deluxe Upsie Downsey Worlds-O-Fun Set. No way was my father going to permit that. For months I pleaded, I begged, I drew pictures of it and made up songs about it. I cried, I mourned, I fussed, I sank into almost immobile depressions. My mother could not bear my suffering. She worked on my father. It was only a phase, I would outgrow it. The other children have them.

    Of course, all my playmates were girls.

    I did get the set. I have it to this day. I had to keep it hidden, of course. It even had a storybook with the mythology in it. It is my most treasured toy from my childhood.

    There were a few times that I told, or came close to telling, others about the nature of my plight. Once, in Victorville California, at the age of ten, I had two playmates, Jodi and Cheryl, who were my best friends at the time. I had created “The Rinky Dink Club” for us to be a part of, and we played together every day. One fine afternoon, Jodi admitted to me that she wished she had been born a boy. My heart sang! A kindred spirit! I excitedly told her of my own wish to be a girl, perhaps a little too overwhelmingly. The topic was never to be discussed again, it seemed to frighten her. Even so, we all continued to play together, three girls in behavior, if not form.

    Several times I tried to tell my mother, when we were left by ourselves to the house in Baker - my father gone on some surveying trip - but the histrionics she replied with forced me to repeatedly deny the admission as a poor joke....something which strangely calmed her immediately, instantly, as though the incident had never happened.

    I developed ulcers around the age of twelve, and this led to many visits with doctors. My stomach problems were rather painful, and the doctors were very concerned. Finally a doctor sat me down to ask me what stresses I might be enduring, for it was the wisdom of the time that ulcers were caused by extreme stress and not Heliobacter Pylori. I sat there looking up into the eyes of my doctor, alone in a room, and knew that telling a doctor might save me. I knew that there might, just might, be something that could be done, for I had great faith in science and medicine. I might be able be a girl! But I thought of my parents. I thought of what my violent, dangerous father might do. I thought of the screaming fights every other night, I remembered how much my ‘delicate’ behavior caused me to be punished by my parents. I thought of being abandoned. I began to become terrified. I told my doctor about the fights and the incessant bullies, but I could not bring myself to tell him the real reason for my misery.

    The most disturbing time that I ever told anyone prior to my transition was around the age of 17. For a brief week, I somehow became conscious of my suppressed identity. I remembered my life, always a dim fog to me otherwise, and understood what I was. The terrible split in my mind had mostly healed. I am not sure what precipitated this event, but I believe that it was a brief television bit about transsexuality.

    Armed with the awareness of what I was, and with the suggestion that there actually was something that might be done about it, I need someone to talk about it to. Please understand that I had lived a very isolated life, moving all the time, and always under the control of my parents. I was very unaware of the world, and my life experience was muddled by my split mind and far too much television. I was far too innocent, and ridiculously trusting. Which is why, I suppose, I decided to turn to my art teacher at the time.

    That summer, once again in Baker, I had enrolled for the second year in an art class run by a nun in a nearby Catholic church. I had no real understanding of any religion, it simply was not an issue to my family. Sister Mary Elizabeth was such a friendly person, so kind and sweet, and I was her very favorite student. She seemed to think the world of me, and even arranged my very first art show. I really liked her. I wished I could be like her.

    I came one afternoon and asked to talk with my friend and teacher, about something private and serious. I reasoned that of all people, someone filled with the joy of god and art, would be able to counsel me in a kindly and open way. I happily told her that I finally knew what had made me depressed my entire life, that I was really a girl and not a boy, that I was overjoyed to finally understand that. I asked for her help.

    In chemistry, I was once amazed to learn about a phenomena called sublimation. There are circumstances where a solid can become a gas, directly, without melting to become a liquid first. The solid just instantaneously becomes another thing, without going through any gradual transformation.

    Sister Mary Elizabeth underwent personality sublimation. One second she was beatitude and God’s eternal love, the next instant in time, she was Satan incarnate.

    Her express advice was very straightforward. I was utterly consumed by evil, and was inherently a creature of Satan. However, she felt that I must have some slight degree of goodness left in me, and so I should follow her advice. I should quietly commit suicide instead of undergoing a sex change. This would prevent my very existence from acting as a corrupting spiritual influence that would certainly condemn innocent children yet unborn to hell. If I had any love or goodness in me at all, I would leave immediately and kill myself. Of course, she offered, I would burn in hell forever, but at least I would have made one noble sacrifice to protect future generations. God would have no mercy for one such as I, but at least it would be the right thing to do.

    I fled in tears, shock, and stunned horror. The split in my mind came back in days, this time far, far more strongly.

    With puberty came the ultimate horror of the involuntary functioning of my much loathed sexual organs, so rudely appended to my abdomen. The utter degradation of  autonomic erections slammed my concept of self, and  filled me with bitter shame for my deformity. Nothing was worse than any revelation of the existence of my accursed organs, be it at a swimming class where the uncontrollable bulging of my swimming suit forced me into contortions to hide it, or the ultimate hell of gym class. Of course my exemplary, honor student grades plummeted, as I failed Physical Education classes, then many others as well. I simply could not bear to shower, or even to be in that terrible place, and sports in general were anathema to me. I soon lost interest in school altogether, not just because of my boredom at the illiteracy and ignorance of my peer students, but also the teachers – whom I was often forced to correct for the most obvious of errors – and simply hid my texts of biochemistry (my passion in late grade school) and science fiction (my other, greater, lifelong passion) inside the class volumes of Introduction To Whatever. I lived in the twin worlds of science and science fiction, for they were my only salvation at the time.

    The influx of male hormone in my bloodstream ravaged my body and my sanity. Suddenly my life was a living hell, not only from the exterior, but now from within as well. It was all I could do simply to survive one day to the next. Male hormones not only caused endless erections and barely restrained sexual frustration that both humiliated and dominated my consciousness, but also brought terrible changes to my skin in the curse of acne.

    My body could not abide testosterone. It robbed me of thought, altered my personality, bent me in twisted ways, and rode me like a demonic spirit. It crushed me in unending depression and sweaty, frustrated anguish. It also stole from me the remaining delicate beauty of my childhood, buried underneath a virtual shell of ropy pus-filled blisters. My acne problem was horrendous, with inch wide pustules covering the entirety of my face and back in overlapping repulsion. I began to walk constantly with my face down, hunched over, so none could see my countenance. It was as much because of becoming increasingly masculine in appearance, or so I imagined, as it was for the solid mass of pus-filled sacks that graced my face.

    Such horrible acne led to my parents to take me to medical help, to seek some way to cure it. In this circumstance, I made the most pathetic error of my adolescent life. At the time, the discovery that acne is not caused by chocolate or grease, but by a genetic predisposition, which results in tiny pores, was still fairly new. Under the influence of sex hormones, the dermal glands produce copious amounts of oil, this oil is too viscous and rapidly produced to escape the small pores, and backs up, forming easily infected sacs. This is the basis of acne. My body could not tolerate, and seemed particularly antagonistic to, testosterone, and thus was provided an experimental option of taking estrogen to counter the male hormone.

    I was enrolled in the experiment at the age of 14. Female hormones had an immediate and amazing effect upon me. My acne vanished within a week and a half, leaving smooth, clear skin. I marveled at the joy of being able to touch my own, flat and smooth, forehead. I was also filled with an airy lightness, an euphoric feeling that made every day a joy. The dark clouds of perpetual depression that were my normality lifted, and for the first time since my early childhood  I knew contentment and happiness. Unfortunately, this was not to last.

    One day I noticed that my breasts had grown just a bit. I loved this, and felt like my nightly prayer was being answered. I understood that the hormones were probably responsible, though I was not entirely clear on the process at that age. Perhaps I would turn into a girl and it would be alright!

    However, one afternoon, I found a hard, small lump in the center of my left breast. There was no corresponding lump in my right. I had no idea of the true meaning of this, and I leapt to the conclusion that it must be a tumor or a cancer! I became frightened. And that is when I made my terrible error. I told my mother. That was the end of my estrogens. The doctors knew what I did not...that this was normal breast development...first a small hard core, which would have in time turned into a rubbery, expanding doughnut, only to melt away into the mature breast. My left breast had just started first. If only I had remained silent!

    Of course the acne immediately came back, and so did the emotional and psychochemical nightmare world created by the dark god of testosterone. My faery world of light and contentment died, beneath the pounding, sweating, male hormones.

    By high school, I had begun to learn how to avoid some of the constant abuse. No longer were groups of disturbed boys trying to flush my head down the toilet (as happened in Yermo, California) or taking turns kicking me in the stomach to get me to stand up and fight, or holding me down and urinating on me for being a disgusting ‘girly faggot’ (as happened in Eugene, Oregon). Doubtless this was partly due to the general effect of growing older, but also I had begun a campaign of careful selective adaptation. I studied boys. I drew how they walked and moved, I practiced their actions and tried to mimic them. I increasingly suppressed my natural behavior in favor of an affected one that attempted to match those of the sex I was perceived as. It was horrible, but at least it was less fraught with violence.

    At this time in my life the driving effects of testosterone became the most damaging to my psyche. I was constantly obsessed with sexual impulse and consequent frustration. It ruled my mind, my art, and my consciousness. I could barely think of anything else. It was inevitable that such sexual drives would spill over into my gender issues.  Shortly after puberty, my need to dress in female clothing began to become tainted with sexual association. By high school this connection was ferocious. The disgust I felt at having my need to express my identity through dressing become blended with this hormonal alien that possessed my soul made the last sheds of my dignity, self worth, and hope dissolve. My mind could not cope with this last insult. The strange split in my mind, formed in my childhood, became profound, reaching its peak by my college days.

    In effect, I had gradually developed two distinct selves, not unlike having two separate memory ‘files’. One memory ‘file was my day-to-day persona, which was utterly oblivious to my gender issues. This version of my self was fairly narrow, rigid in attitude, but capable of a minimal level of survival in the world. For me, the sensation of this mode of being is very easy to define. It was like sitting in the back row of a vast private movie theater, watching helplessly as my life was performed by someone else, whose sad misadventures I cringed at, on that tiny screen so far away. It was living death, it was numbness and isolation from my own experience of the world.

    My other mode of being, my other ‘memory file’ became dominant only when I was alone and safe, parents gone or distant, sure of privacy. In those moments some change occurred, and the full knowledge of myself flooded back. For brief minutes, or at best an hour or two, I rushed to address my gender suffering like a woman possessed. Because that accursed sex drive ruled me even then, my scramble to dress up and  be myself was heavily tainted by masturbatory excess. When discovery became immanent, an equal scramble to purge and erase occurred, leaving me utterly unaware of what I had been doing just minutes before. This ‘lost time’ never bothered me, for my day-to-day modality was so constructed as not to question such things.

    I was very lonely, and became obsessed with two women who in turn, seemed to fall in love with me. I was sexual with them, but it was essentially the act of a machine, it served my demonic lust, and pleased them, but best of all, it further resulted in attachment that assured that I would not be alone. I was obsessed with the idea that if  I could just secure an eternal, romantic and totally committed relationship, then all my problems would disappear. My first relationship started at the end of high school, and caused me to follow my lover to college at San Francisco State University. When this first relationship ended, at the beginning of my college days, I became insane with jealousy and possessiveness, stalking my lost Cheryl for months. I knew I was acting in an insane way, but I felt helpless, in the back of my metaphoric movie theatre, screaming at the fool on the screen to stop. I could not comprehend my own behavior, and I could barely control it.

    Perhaps the only thing that saved me at this point in my life was the introduction of ‘recreational’ drug use. For  the next several years, marijuana became my therapy of choice. I never used it as others did, for I was not very social. Instead I used it as would a scientist, performing an experiment, only on myself. I read about the effects and chemical composition of the active ingredient, THC. I reveled in the passivity and hypnotic tranquility it gave me. I was aware that THC blocks and reduces serum levels of testosterone, and this too seemed to benefit me greatly. I recorded the effect of the drug, and created experiments to test the way it changed my consciousness.

    I used pot as a self administered control on my perverse sexual drives. I used it to hypnotically concentrate on developing my artistic skills. It was the only peace I had found. Other drugs were too scary or harsh, alcohol bothered me even more, for it left me numb to the sensation of touch, and unable to concentrate or create. Marijuana served me very well, and in many ways I benefited from using it. Not only did it permit me to advance my creative ability, and to have the patience to examine issues and open my narrow beliefs and bigotry, but it served an absolutely vital function: it limited my sex drive to the point that it kept me out of prison. Unfortunately, it also increased my fear, and in a very few years I was forced to stop using it altogether, because it caused me to feel irrational terror. I have never touched any such drug since.

    In the middle of my college days I took to carrying a denim purse, ostensibly as a book bag. It thrilled me inside, yet I would have been defensive and filled with disgust at the suggestion that it was an inappropriate act for me. I simply did not think about any implications, yet felt compelled to do it, so distanced was I from my own awareness.

    Near the end of my college days I became involved with my second, and last, pre-transition relationship.  I won her heart because she took me to her room after seeing me crying, still mourning the loss of my previous relationship. I begged to sleep with her...not have sex, but just to cuddle, for I was terribly lonely. She was shocked to find that I never made a single sexual advance to her that night, and to her this was the mark of a perfect gentleman. It did not hurt that my constant use of marijuana had severely limited my sexual evils.

    In time we moved out of the dormitories and into an apartment of our own, at 701 Capp Street in San Francisco, just above a bar. This apartment was the scene of the event that both nearly took, and saved, my life.

    As the months went by, my lover put increasing pressure on me to marry her. Donna wanted children and a ‘normal’ life, and claimed that she loved me above all else. She worked while I finished my college education, in preparation of supporting her and our inevitable spawn. We became engaged, somehow, for I did not feel part of the circumstances of my own life. I grew increasingly withdrawn, and my capacity for sex shriveled. Every time I could bring myself to look in the mirror, my mind would be filled with my own screaming thoughts: “What Do You Want?”, “What Is Wrong With You?”, “Why Are You Miserable?” ....and I really did not know. Whenever Donna left me alone, my other mode awakened and I expressed my gender issues like a beast. When she returned, my memory was as empty as the infinite vacuum of space itself.

    I grew ever more suicidal. Every day it was harder to face being alive, and I could not bear to gaze into the mirror to see my mutating, increasingly masculine face, nor to suffer the chorus of screaming questions when I did so. I could not bear to look at or deal with my body, and in every way I felt living, yet dead. I felt already and hopelessly entombed, buried undead inside a crypt of misery, and the horrific filth of my own flesh. I could not understand why my body was so revolting to me, just as I could not bear to let myself know why I was suffering. Then one night, at age 21, everything changed. It was May 30th, 1981, and my fiancé had gone to visit a friend for a few days, after a particularly nasty fight about my inability to function as a man in our relationship, the way she expected.

    Many things led up to the crisis of that night. She was making wedding plans, and pressing the issue almost every day. I had but a few weeks earlier noticed the first, true evidence, that I would not somehow magically grow up to be a girl after all...the very first few hairs on my chin, and beside my nipples. It was clear that I was developing secondary sex characteristics, and they were not female ones. It had come to my full awareness that my body was lean and bony...indeed I only weighed 103 pounds, despite being 5’ 11’’ in height (oddly, the exact height of my mother). I saw my future, and I could not bear to live in it. The walls were closing in.

    Approaching midnight, that full moon May night, I set up a big mirror, wore a beautiful red dress, and utterly intoxicated myself with the most potent marijuana I could obtain. Also with me was my tank of  carbon dioxide gas, used for air brush illustration, and a bottle of the most potent sleeping pills I could find. I had constructed a mask, connected to the tank. My plan was fairly simple. Intoxicated to the limit, I would take the sleeping pills. The anti-nausea effects of marijuana would keep me from vomiting the pills, and thus make certain that I did not recover to find myself permanently damaged. To absolutely ensure success, the mask and carbon dioxide tank would finish the job. I reasoned that the combination of drugs would suppress the natural spasms of dying by carbon dioxide poisoning, and thus allow for an effective and relatively pain-free death. Clearly, my college education had not been wasted.

    Before I initiated stage two, the pills, I was overawed by the full moon outside the big bay windows of our San Francisco apartment. I reflected on how I had always somehow believed, deep down, that some god would somehow repair me...that I would just wake up one day and be female. I now knew that was never going to happen. Still, I decided that I would give the world one last chance. I began to pray. I prayed to the Christian versions of god, then the Hindu. I tried praying to Allah, and also to The Blessed Buddha. I pleaded to Krishna and I begged to The Great Spirit. I even tried variations of the Christian Devil, and really obscure deities like the Loa and Ahriman. I tried everything I could think of. Silence. There was no help from the gods.

    On a whim, I do not know why, I prayed to the moon. Names came out of my studies of comparative religions, and I called on Goddess names, on Diana, on Selene, on Hecate. Instantly, something incredibly profound happened for me.It was overwhelming and absolutely real to my senses. My rational mind ascribes it to a psychologically extreme state, enhanced by the effect of the drug in my blood, and the utter despair I endured. My heart tells me it was real. Such paradox is inevitable with an experience such as this, if one is not the fanatic type. For the rest of my life, I will never really be able to decide what happened, because either explanation is unacceptable to some part of me. All I know is that it saved my life, be it mystical succor, or psychochemical delusion.

    At the stroke of midnight the experience ended, I was instantly stone cold sober, and I knew. I knew all of my past, all of my history. My two separate modes of being had become one, and the catharsis left me integrated and whole. I knew who I was, what I was, why I had been so miserable, and very clearly, what I must now do about it all. I was beyond being even front row center of my metaphoric theatre, I was fully alive, in the now. I had become a full participant in my own life.

    Of course I cried my eyes out in joy, thanked whatever it was that had helped me, and cried some more. Then, as the sun came up, I put away my little tools of death, determined to live. I felt like I was on a holy quest, a true adventure, and that I had a very Goddess on my side. I was empowered, and I knew that nothing could stop me.

    Everything started for me the next few days. Accompanying a mutual friend to a used bookstore, I leaned on a stack and knocked the top book off. Picking it up, I was surprised to find something I never imagined possible, the story of a person just like me. It was Jan Morris’s ‘Conundrum’, and reading it to the sounds of Jean Michel Jarre, I found an echo of my own plight. Over and over I read the book, my only inspiration and solace.

    I knew what I had to do, I had to find doctors to fix my problems, to give me hormones and surgery. I had no idea how to do this. Opening the San Francisco telephone book, I was faced with a blur of medical possibilities. I closed the book. On an impulse, I strung the elaborate, purest silver ring I had made in a jewelry class, upon a chain, and closed my eyes. I opened the book and dangled the ring. Dropping my little impromptu pendulum of sorts, It landed on a name. Good enough, as I opened my eyes, and I made the call.

    The doctor was Alfred Auerbach, and as I would find out, he had a long experience with transsexuals. An associate of both Harry Benjamin and Wardell Pomeroy, he was one of the most recognizable figures in the treatment of transsexuality – not that I understood that at the time. Dr. Pomeroy, the co-author of the Kinsey Report, became my second, required doctor necessary to obtain permission for surgery. Soon I had a hormone doctor as well, and I was on hormones in a few weeks. If I had tried with all of the knowledge in the world, I could not have had a better doctor for transition anywhere in the western half of America.

    I next needed an apartment, for there was no question of my former fiancé staying with me. Her love ended with the shape of my flesh, and the role I was willing to play, and the truth of my self was without value to her. I have since learned that real, genuine love, is not so shallow, and is possible, if rare in the world.

    Finding an apartment on poverty wages is all but impossible in San Francisco, at least in any decent location. Out of time and options, I was encouraged by a lone remaining friend - for any others that heard of my situation rejected me brutally - to accompany her to a café to cheer up. Entering the crowded café, I was backed up against a wall which contained a cork board spiked with push-pins to which were attached numerous paper messages. One stuck in my coat, and my friend removed it for me. On it was an offer for a 200 dollar a month apartment downtown, at 926 Larkin Street, right where I needed it, just five blocks from my doctors. At first, the woman on the other end would not rent to me because of my age, she was only accepting an older clientele. Then for some reason, in the middle of repeating her rejection she stopped and fell silent. She then let me rent the apartment.

    I worked four short-term temporary jobs at the same time, utterly abandoning my hopes of graduation, to quickly achieve enough money to make the security deposit and first months rent by the deadline to move in. I was utterly exhausted by this, and collapsed at the end of each day, unconscious, sometimes on the hallway floor. But I raised the money in time, and moved in. I was set, at least for one month! California, at the time, had a robust medical support system which helped to pay for my doctors. I dared only tell my parents that a serious medical emergency had come up, that I would inform them about it in time because it was embarrassing, and that I needed money. They did not send a lot, but it was enough to make the difference for my treatment. I still needed money if I were to eat and keep my new, one room apartment.

    Again, close to the wire, and worried, I was walking in the financial district, essentially having all but given up hope of finding a stable job. Suddenly a rather frantic man ran out and seized my arm “Hey you! You want job? I got job for you, come here...” I was dragged into “Mrs. Robinson’s”, a sandwich shop on the bottom floor of one of the tall towers of the district. I was instantly employed. With partial wages in advance, I was able to meet my next rent, and had barely enough for food.

    Thus was the beginning of my two year transition.

    With circumstances more or less stabilized, I could devote my energies to the process of transition itself. Once or twice a week, for the first three or four months, I would go to somebody, either Dr. Auerbach, or Dr. Pomeroy, or to see my hormone doctor, Dr, Garfield, or to get a psychiatric evaluation. In retrospect, I am convinced that many of my doctors actually overlooked payment, for I find checking the few records of the time, that it seems unlikely that they were paid consistently by the state, and my contribution was less than an eighth of their rather high fees. Somehow, they must have found me worth the time. I am very grateful.

    I worked at the little sandwich shop, barely surviving, but ineffably filled with joy. The greatest dream of my life was coming true! At my little apartment, bereft of a refrigerator or a stove, I ate food cold from cans, and listened to my radio. I especially looked forward to the radio dramas that were a regular feature of Thursday nights, and ZBS productions ‘Jack Flanders’ series, and ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’ were my only friends in the entire world. All of my other current friends had utterly rejected me, once the reality of what I was doing truly hit them. I was alone in the world, braving a new world I had no concept of. With only the chronicle of Jan Morris to lean on, and no guarantee of success, still I went on. I had no choice, for my only other option was to die. I would not, could not live a year longer as a male.

    Nature’s biochemical magic began to work, to correct the tragic mistake of my birth. Within a few weeks I noticed a definite alteration of my mood and my perception. My sex drive faded, and I was increasingly in balance. For the first time since that long ago acne treatment, I once again knew that same faery contentment and angelic peace. Everything seemed brighter, colors seemed sharper, and all of my senses seemed new and awake. I realized, by comparison, what it was to think clearly, to feel alive inside.

    The longer I was affected by estrogen, the better I felt. It was like settling into a warm, comfortable bath, with a happy rubber duck, and sweet smelling soaps. I began to cherish being alive, and enjoyed each new day, filled not only with inner contentment, but also expectant joy. I felt filled with light.

    I observed my body. Within two months, I noticed the first physical changes. It began with my hands. Glancing down while I made sandwiches, I realized that my hands were different. Examining them carefully, I saw that the skin had become softer, smoother, and that the texture was finer on the backs of my hands. The wrinkles on my knuckles were smoothing, and the overall shape of my fingers seemed less bony and angular. The skin on the back of my hands became my barometer of change, and throughout my transition, I was fascinated with such a clear indicator of my progress. By five months, the few hairs on my hands had vanished, and my skin was very soft. By a year, my hands were utterly those of a woman, in texture, shape, and the very feel of the skin.

    My arm hairs, few though they were, became fine and invisible. My hips widened with redistributed fat, and my waist narrowed. My face softened and altered, with the early masculine jowls and the beginning eyebrow pads melting away. My chin became less square in appearance as the skin and fat of my flesh reformed about my bones. My muscles altered and the texture of my growing hair changed.

    I felt like wax in the hot sun, melting and soft, and I felt new and fresh and tingly. I was again a baby, newborn and pink, and I felt pure and light and floating on air. It felt so good, so beautiful to shapeshift!

    But perhaps best of all, was the development of my breasts. Every day I could not help but marvel at my arising bosom. My flat, bony chest began to grow. The few hairs that had sprouted by my nipples disappeared. Once again, as when I was 14, my left breast formed a hard little core. Soon my right breast mirrored the left, and the little, tender cores grew, surrounded by soft tissue. I used to measure myself constantly, by placing my hands, unobtrusively I imagined, backsides up, just under my ribs. I would judge my development by how far I protruded over my fingers.  Of course it took months for any truly significant change, but it seemed as though I could see improvement on a weekly basis. I kept careful  measurements, and indeed I grew at the rate of half an inch (as measured by a tape around my bosom) per month. I attribute such quick development to two things. One, I was still young enough at 21 to be powerfully affected by hormone treatment, and Two, I am convinced that my body, my cells, really ‘wanted’ estrogen to control their genetic activity. I am convinced that the cells of my body prefer estrogen to testosterone.

    As my changes became great, they became impossible to ignore, and I explained to my coworkers what was happening to me. For the most part they accepted it pretty well, which surprised me. In fact, I had quite a bit of nastiness directed toward me as I became obvious in my transformation, and it came from sources I did not expect.

    In the San Francisco of 1981, the gay community was at the very peak, and dominated much of the life of the city. My apartment, on Larkin Street, was directly beside one of the two main centers of gay life, which were Van Ness and the Castro District. I was on the street beside Van Ness.

    Now the days before AIDS slaughtered most everyone, every night was a party in these areas, and the streets were filled with milling thousands. Disco clubs blasted music to the crowds and the streets were an eternal parade of every type of person imaginable, from local gay folk to curious tourists come to see the show. All in all, it was an experience beyond compare, a bacchanalia of immense and unceasing splendor, as well as not a little lunacy. The San Francisco of 1981 was all of the Glory That Was Rome, and then some.

    The half-way of sex, to be both and neither, is a special sort of hell. Neither definably male nor definably female, yet somehow both, is a disturbing state to many people, at some fundamental level. It is certainly the worst part of transition. I found acceptance most easily from heterosexual women at the time, the majority of my coworkers. Straight men, like the majority of the construction workers who I had to pass by on my way to work each day, enjoyed mocking and swearing at me. But oddly, or so I thought, was the abuse I suffered at the hands of gay folk. I erroneously believed that gay folk, themselves oppressed and the object of bigotry, would be supportive of me if anyone would. But I found only scorn and ridicule, and even outright disgust, in most of the gay community. Gay men looked upon my in a kind of horror, presumably because I represented their worst nightmare, the destruction of what they prized and held most dear, maleness. Lesbians seemed to see me as some strange kind of threat, a danger and an invasion, and acted with almost paranoid revulsion. It quite shocked me that the oppressed could so easily turn upon their own kind, for the transsexual certainly counts as equally Queer, in the sum scheme of things, and in the collective oppressions of society.

    Enduring the catcalls and insults, the staring eyes and disgusted or horrified looks, I survived and slowly changed shape. After six months, I suddenly was no longer alone.

    At the beginning of my transition, I had the occasional interaction with a friend of my old fiancée, a middle aged gay man who had a bit of a fancy for me. This fancy was actually rewarded, as just prior to going on hormones, I was assailed by one of my rapidly diminishing friends over a disturbing concept. My soon to be ex-friend, John, was utterly convinced that I had to be a gay man, and that the drive to change my physical sex was just an attempt to avoid the responsibility of being openly gay. To him, my transsexualism was a disgusting effort to ‘pass for female’, so as to escape the righteous suffering of being homosexual.

    I was off-balance, frightened and uninformed. I decided to test, beyond doubt, to see if this was valid. I had no desire to live a lie of any kind.

    Donna’s gay friend, Robert, was more than glad to show me the True Gay Path. He was the only gay man I knew, and while I was not overly attracted to him, he would serve for my purposes. It was, to say the least, very unhappy, at least for me. While he seemed glad enough, for me it was just as bad as sex with a woman... and by now, I had no ability to even cope with acknowledging  the existence of my sex organs, so I kept them tucked and hidden all the time. While he played with what parts of my body I could stand to allow, I felt only embarrassment and horror at my own bony, male body. All I could think of, was how I was built, and that I was built wrong. Male-to-male sexuality simply was no different to my comfort than male-to-female sexuality....for in both cases, I was trapped in the form of a male. Neither was any good, despite my unquenchable sex drive, and altogether I was clearly aware throughout the experiment that I would be much happier alone, imagining myself as a woman, perhaps dressed for the part.

    One day, six months into my transition, Robert suddenly contacted me out of the blue. There was a crisis of sorts within his circle of friends, and he needed my help. I am ever the amiable sort.

    Robert knew of a young runaway, who had been taken in by a somewhat brutal ‘Sugar Daddy’, an older man who provides material comfort in exchange for sexual favors, and this young boy needed a safe haven to escape to. I came along and helped to confront the reasonably violent ‘Daddy’ and thus gained a roommate, my young ward, Robin.

    Robin was 16 at the time, going on 40, and both childlike...sometimes childish...and incredibly mature at the same time. Robin had to be mature, for the sake of his own survival. Robin had run away at the age of fifteen from the constant leather-strap whippings of his Tennessee father, which had culminated in an almost effective attempt on Robin’s life.  When his father tried to strangle him for being gay, to ‘put him out of his godless misery’, Robin had found an axe handle within grasp and managed to club his sire. This gave him the opportunity to run for his life, and despite being half dead, he made it. He had traveled to the only place he had heard of that might accept him, and thus became a resident of San Francisco.

    I took Robin in to my tiny cockroach infestedone ro