No one knew much about the mentally ill, homeless person who called herself Anastasia when she died on a bench outside Peet's Coffee in the Castro on New Year's Eve. Various people in the neighborhood tweeted about the event, using both male and female pronouns, and some who had talked to her knew that she asked to be called Princess Anastasia, and "Her Majesty." But now a reporter has dug a bit deeper, locating family members whom Anastasia (born Ted Walton) had been living with as late as 2014, and the portrait becomes a bit more complicated when Anastasia's own sister says that she was actually a he who never identified as female, as far as she knew, even until his last year of life.
Leah Rose investigated and wrote the piece on Long Reads titled "A San Francisco Story." It turns out that Ted Walton led a fairly long life as an out gay man and female impersonator in Las Vegas, and had only become mentally ill, according to his sister Nedalee Thomas, in the last twelve years following a back injury and an addiction to painkillers. She says that Ted was living with the grandmother who raised them up until 2014, at which point he cut off contact with Nedalee after she tried insisting he get back on his schizophrenia meds. Nedalee insists Ted never intended to live life as a woman, she has the testimony of many old friends who came to the memorial service she hosted to back her up, and it does not appear that Princess Anastasia ever made any concerted effort to transition, apart from adopting this persona and wearing women's bedroom slippers and scarves.
This is of course a tricky situation journalists, police, and the city coroner alike all accepted the narrative that this was a trans woman who dressed in female attire, insisted on being called Princess Anastasia during the time she lived on the streets of the Castro. But it remains possible that this was just a mentally ill person playing a part a gay man used to playing women on stage all his life doing one last performance as he lost touch with reality. It is also possible that had she not been so impaired, and living on the streets, she may have come to a decision to transition, and was in fact experiencing gender dysmorphia her entire life.
Interestingly, via the Medical Examiner we also learn that Anastasia did not die of exposure as previously assumed the cause of death was attributed to cardiomyopathy, and toxicology tests for drugs and alcohol were negative.
Nedalee Thomas remains perturbed that the person she knew her entire life as her brother Ted has a death certificate listing him as female with a name she never knew him to use.
And, of course, without having Anastasia/Ted to ask, we'll likely never know the complete truth.