Daphne (now Dylan) Scholinski grew up in a family with a past-generation history of distance and violence. In her immediate family, her artistic mother isn't cut out to have children. Her father had returned from the Vietnam war mentally damaged. Lacking love and attention from these parents (who eventually divorce) Daphne Scholinski walls herself off, only having real contact with her younger sister. Her mother leaves to pursue an art career, so Scholinski lives with her TV-addict father, who from time to time whips her.
As a child, Scholinski had predilections for girls and jeans. As a young girl played first base in Little League & with a preference for drawing rather than playing with dolls.
Having a boyish streak and even mistaken for a boy at times, she hangs with a gang, steals, smokes, does drugs and is talked into unfeeling sex with a man who plies her with compliments and money. As a result, in 1981, at the age of 14, she was inappropriately diagnosed with the dubious "gender identity disorder" and committed to a psychiatric institution in Chicago.
She became a victim of the still-popular psychiatric trend that flourished in the early '80s: the creation of new diagnoses which lead to incarceration of middle-class white kids for "socially deviant" behavior. Institutionalized during the entirety of her adolescence, she wasn't released until a few months after her 18th birthday: shortly after the expiration of her health insurance.
She spent her internment surrounded by white walls, individuals who had proven to themselves they were the Messiah, and doctors who clinically stigmatized her art by reducing the works to psychoanalytic categories.
In the last facility, in Minnesota, she is given greater freedom and is able to live off campus. But even there, a developing relationship with a woman (Scholinski is drawn to women who look sad) is restricted because the staff feels it might become physical.
She co-authored with Jane Meredith Adams the book The Last Time I Wore A Dress, the book is a testament to a woman's ability to survive in an environment which can sap will power and identity. She has to continue to be a bad girl sometimes to keep her sanity - but she pays a price.
Even now - years later - as Dylan Scholinski, he is an artist in San Francisco, but he has trouble sleeping and dark memories of his incarceration return in his dreams. Currently based in Washington DC, transman Dylan Scholinski, is an award-winning author, distinguished visual & performance artist, and public speaker.
Dylan Scholinski has appeared on 20/20, Dateline and Today to discuss his experiences and has been featured in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Scholinski's work appeared in the National Queer Arts Festival (USA) in 2001. His written and artistic work not only portrays the anguish of his hospital years but also his ultimate triumph.