When, last April, I announced that I suffer from gender dysphoria, and then, in August, made it known that I was living as a female in order to determine if transitioning would prove beneficial, among the concerns I received were from folks who referred me to Walt Heyer and his website, “Sex Change Regret.”
At age five, Heyer says, “My grandmother, when I was being babysat by her, started dressing me in female clothing.” He reports that his older, adopted brother sexually molested him and that his mother’s discipline became so severe that, once, she was afraid she had killed him.
Heyer suffered gender conflict and, at age forty-two, fully transitioned, including sex reassignment surgery, to Lauren Jensen, and lived as Lauren for eight years. Fifteen years ago, he detransitioned and became an active opponent of all things transgender.
Heyer had not been properly diagnosed. By his own account, his gender dysphoria was not caused by gender identity disorder, but by dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), which he says “disrupts one’s memories and sense of self-identity.” From WebMD: “Dissociative identity disorder is thought to stem from trauma experienced by the person with the disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism—the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience that’s too violent, traumatic, or painful to assimilate with his conscious self.”
Heyer appears to have found the source of his trouble, learned that transitioning was not the proper treatment for him, and finally is enjoying peace. I am very happy for him. It always was my wish to find a different diagnosis for myself, something through which talk therapy and, perhaps, medication, would provide me with relief. I remain open to that, though at this point it does not appear likely. I believe I have been accurately diagnosed.
In 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality published “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.”
For the study, 7,500 people, who identify across the spectrum of the umbrella term “transgender,” answered a seventy-question survey. Of the 7,500 surveys received, 6,456 submitted valid responses.
In the report, one might grab these statistics and consequences, that trans folks
• often live in extreme poverty;
• abuse drugs and alcohol;
• have incomes four times lower than that of the general population;
• experience unemployment twice that of the general population;
• two percent are homeless, which is twice the national average;
• and 41% report having attempted suicide.
How the survey and Walt Heyer come together was brought before me in a helpful video from a transwoman, Robbie Dee Ewens.
In her video, Ewens shows video of Heyer’s reading of the transgender survey. Heyer quotes the six bullet points, above. From these items, he concludes: “The survey was intended to show wide-ranging discriminations against transgenders (sic), however, what they’ve proved, really, was that changing genders is not successful at improving the lives of transgenders (sic).”
While Heyer can correctly say that many transgender people do not improve their social and economic lives, he completely ignores the immensely more important result, which is the high percentage of trans people who report that transitioning was exactly what they needed: It finally calmed their raging brains which were in a battle over their lives.
Heyer has taken the quoted information and narrowly used it to prove the point he is determined to make—that transitioning does not work and is even harmful—which one may read for himself on his website.
He ignores that all of the items quoted already are problematic areas for many who are fighting gender dysphoria. While there are plenty of pre-transitioned trans persons who had successful careers and strong family units, which includes me, there also are way too many who are not so blessed, but their inner struggle creates outer struggles in several, even all, of the six quoted areas.
Two quotes from the “Conclusion” section of the survey are instructive. First, from the authors: “We hope, however, that one thing stands out for you as it does for us: the remarkable resilience of transgender and gender non-conforming people and their families. These are people who continue to live and move forward in spite of the most daunting obstacles.” And this from a transgender person, which closes the report: ““Even had I known the financial, legal, emotional, and physical obstacles that I would face, I would still have chosen to transition and live as I do today.”
Very often, inner peace will only be achieved when outer battles are also fought, even when those battles put people into harm’s way. Think of the African Americans of the 1960s. Think of the women of the early twentieth century who fought for the right to vote. Think of religious reformers, like Martin Luther.
Large numbers of people suffered greatly for these causes, yet they would not have been able to live with themselves if they had not spoken up, taken action, and worked for change.
If or when we trans folks stifle ourselves, we remain MORE LIKELY to attempt suicide, MORE LIKELY to abuse alcohol and drugs, and MORE LIKELY to fail at marriages and other important relationships because our inner turmoil causes us to be miserable people who are unable to interact as various relationships require, while turning to harmful coping mechanisms.
This far into my transition, I still will not recommend transitioning to anyone. I am concerned for one’s being correctly diagnosed—the second-greatest concern I had when undertaking therapy. I continue to work through my greatest concern, regarding theological questions—if I am wrong about my conclusions and am sinning by transitioning I do not want to cause another to sin—though my confidence continues to grow that a Christian may transition in a God-pleasing manner, which I pray I am doing. Indeed, I believe I am.
Though I do not recommend transitioning, from the volumes of books, websites, and studies I have read, along with the number of people I have met and with my own experience, I find Walt Heyer and others like him to be tooting a horn which is out of tune.
We all know about agendas. Clearly, since going public last April, I have proven my agenda is to instruct about all things transgender, many things Christians, and how they intersect. My blog proves my intent. I believe it demonstrates that I am a person who uses sound reason and good arguments.
Sadly, I cannot say that for Walt Heyer. I am pleased that he reports that he is a Christian, for Jesus Christ is our only hope for true peace and eternal life. However, when it comes to reporting regarding transgender issues, I see a man who twists and bends and pulls information and statistics to fit his objective, which is to show that transitioning is never the answer.
Walt Heyer does not play fair. He needs to be avoided.