I quit school and joined the Army at 18, hiding my sexuality for a long time, until I learned there were other G.I.’s just like me. By 1964, I was living fully as a woman and having therapy for a sex change that never happened. I was threatened with guns, knives, and fists by other men once they discovered I was not a woman, including being knocked down, kicked, and abused by the very police department that should have protected me.
During the 1960s, while in Ohio, I found out I was transgender. I discovered Rocco’s Skid Row Emporium, a club featuring go-go girls who, as it turned out, were all men in female attire. It was something I had never seen before. The transgender bartender took me home and dressed me up in full female attire with makeup. When I looked in the mirror, I said, "Oh, my God, this is really me." And for six months I worked as a go-go-girl there. Later, at a straight club, I joined a chorus line of 20 girls, five of whom were actually men. I loved it and said, "This is it for me!"