Let It All Go

I was born intersex. I had male genitalia and an undeveloped ovary. I grew up as a boy, but I feared I would be “discovered” as a girl. I went totally into the guy thing-bought a motorcycle, hung out with bikers. I got married and had kids, bought a house, and opened my own dry-cleaning business. But I always had women’s clothes in the closet.

My wife and I had an open relationship, so I had a boyfriend living in the back room. On the surface everything was fine, but eventually my marriage started to fall apart. I hadn’t been happy for so long. Finally I realized I didn’t have to live up to the expectations of coach, dad, husband, biker. That’s when I let Antonette out, and the voices disappeared.

A lot of people turned on me, including my family. They thought I had a mental disability. To get a job, I had to dress like a guy. One day I came into my office dressed as a woman, and the next day I was fired. I befriended a couple of working girls at the Dufferin Pub. They introduced me to the sex trade.

I started working “high track,” the Seymour strip between Davie and Helmcken. I had hair like Marge Simpson and outfits with dildos in it, whips in my holster. I worked from midnight until 4 or 5 in the morning. The john usually drove up and asked how much I charged. If I suspected he was a cop I would say, “The sex is free. It’s my charming personality that’s expensive.” I charged $40 for lip service and $100 for a full pull. The most I made was $10,000 over three days with one guy.

You don’t get gay men. You get bisexuals or straight men. Some of them were turned on by my outfit, they just had to try it out. I gave specials to the virgins. At first it was scary. I had to dodge steel-toed boots, metal pipes, and knives. I had loaded guns put to my head. I had one guy kick the fuck out of me on Granville while 15 others cheered him on. I was just a tranny prostitute, the lowest of the low. Nobody wants you when you’ve got high heels and tattoos.

The only way to escape depression was dope. Eventually I couldn’t get out of bed without crystal meth. I would lie for days with no feeling in my arms and legs until someone came by and popped me up. The only person I had was my daughter. One time she came to visit me but was too afraid to come into my building. She left a note saying she loved me and wanted me in her life. That’s when I decided I’d try the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addictions. I’ve been clean for a year. I relapsed once for a week, but I’m still going strong. And my daughter and I are reconnected now.

People ask, “Are you a woman or a man?” I want to be seen as a bit of both and not worry about “passing.” I realize I’ve got to let it go. It’s not what’s between your legs, it’s what’s in your heart.