I found Heyer’s take on gender dysphoria—the condition with which one is diagnosed before transitioning—overly simplistic. The result is that it does not shed light and provide the help I am sure he intends. Instead, it does harm. Thus, my rebuttal, which I submitted on February 19.
Hoping to have USA Today publish my essay, I could not directly refer to Heyer. I did not hear from them within seventy-two hours, indicating they are not interested in my piece, which means I can now post it.
Here are the areas in which I take exception with Heyer:
He regrets the eight years he lived as a trans woman. I speak to that in my paragraph two.
He finds all gender identity issues to be psychological. See my paragraph three.
He asserts that genetics are immutable. See my paragraph four and onward.
He claims many trans persons regret their transitions. See my paragraph twelve.
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I was transgender: I have no regrets
From 2015 to 2018, I lived as a transgender woman. In 2017, I had sex reassignment/gender confirmation surgery. I have since resumed living as a male.
It is common for those who have detransitioned to speak of regretting they had been transgender and underwent surgery. While I certainly wish I could have avoided the crushing gender dysphoria which led to my transition and surgeries, everything I learned, the people I met, and the experiences I otherwise could not have had, leave me grateful for what happened and where I now am. I have no regrets.
Hoping my gender identity crisis was psychological, as I sought to think my way out of suffering during the first months of talk therapy I found a physical reason for my gender conflict and, ultimately, why it resolved. Intense study led me to learn that one’s suffering incongruity between his body/sex and mind/gender is complex and far from understood.
Opponents of transitioning claim genetics can’t be changed and one’s sex is immutable. But, wait. There are women who have XY male chromosomes, and men who have XX female ones. Outwardly, they appear to be the females and males they were identified at birth, but it’s not that simple. They have an intersex condition. There also are intersex conditions which reside in the genitals and hormones, such as androgen insensitivity syndrome.
As for one’s sex being immutable, the word means “unchanging.” but if the person is born with attributes which do not line up with either male or female, the person will experience the consequences. Sometimes, they suffer conflict. This conflict can erupt into dysphoria, which means they have ill feelings about their sex and gender not matching.
Not all people with an intersex condition have an incongruity of body and identity. However, when a person does the suffering is real. It is not simply “in their head.” It is physical. And it often is successfully treated by their transitioning and identifying as transgender.
The causes of gender conflict remain mysterious. Some locate a psychological reason. I believe mine came from my endocrine system having been disrupted when I was in the womb, that my mom was given diethylstilbestrol (DES)—an artificial estrogen—to keep her from miscarrying me. DES has been found to be harmful to fetuses and is no longer prescribed to pregnant women.
Before transitioning, my testosterone and estrogen levels were typical of a man my age. But they didn’t work for me. As I took cross-sex hormones and my levels changed, I experienced great fluctuation in how I experienced myself. At times, I felt totally male. When my hormone levels shifted, my dysphoria returned. After gender confirmation surgery, I stopped producing large amounts of testosterone. Within months, I found myself feeling completely male. That sense has remained stable.
My hormone levels now reflect those of a genetic women my age, yet I feel like a man. I have learned of other men who take cross-sex hormones in order to realign their levels, striving to feel good as males. One man is in his third year. Having shifted his hormones without surgery, he’s found contentment being a male.
While there is yet no definitive proof that a disrupted endocrine system might be the cause of gender dysphoria, there are many maladies caused by altered hormones and we know their causes can be pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and plasticizers. Thus, when a three year old child, who is not yet old enough to have logical understanding of sex and gender, is able to persist, insist, and consistently proclaim that he or she is not the boy or girl as identified at birth, we are wise to dig deeply for a physical reason. A disrupted endocrine system could be the culprit.
As with uncovering psychological causes of gender dysphoria, discussing possible physical reasons indicates there is a malady. Many trans persons insist there is nothing wrong with them. They are fine being transgender. Thus, it is important to be respectful of all people in this delicate matter.
One reads arguments against transitioning, that there are large numbers of trans folks who regret it. Large numbers do not necessarily mean a majority, or even a significant minority. One can find many whose transition has provided them the wholeness of being they sought. I’ve gotten to know some of them. They report enjoying healthy lives as transgender persons.
Sex and gender, chromosomes and hormones, and every human is a complex being of mind, body, and spirit. Let us especially address with respect and patience the confounding condition which is gender dysphoria.
Greg Eilers is a former Lutheran minister, who writes at gregeilers.com. He recently published his memoir, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane—One Wile Ride: My Journey with Gender Identity.”
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Links to back up all factual information in my essay:
Worry not, my friends. I have not been deterred by the groans which ring out from all who react to my puns and wacky observations. I continue to allow my fractured thoughts to leave my brain and enter my computer. Here’s what’s been accumulating like so many flakes of winter snow.
I hollered, “Watch out! That arrow is headed straight for the side of your head!” Both my warning and the arrow went through one ear and out the other.
When the grocery store is packed with shoppers, I dream of being castaway on a desert aisle.
Did you hear about the two orchestra conductors who fought over a piece of music? They had a score to settle.
The young man just passed the bar exam. He was reviewing job offers. A friend asked whether he’d made his choice. He replied, “I’ve narrowed it down, but I have yet to make a firm decision.”
My dentist told me that I wouldn’t have to see him so often if I improved how I clean my teeth. It felt like he was giving me the brush off.
All of my macaroni has been kidnapped! It is being held pastage!
A lot of things are better the second day. Spaghetti. Chili. But do you know what’s not better the second day? A dead raccoon.
A window section, which has fallen and broken, is a pane to clean up.
When I cook supper, and its time to eat, I holler to the family, “Come and regret it!” (I really do say this. And when I forget to do so, my grandson reminds me.)
If I could be paid $2,000 for each of my corny jokes, I could make a pun of money!
With the publication of my book, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane,” I’ve found it better to remove a number of items from my blog, topics which I discuss in detail in the book. I’ve also taken off a number of other items that either were outdated or rarely read.
These three key posts had topped the menu, immediately after Menu Maneuvering:
The return to Greg
The return to Greg: the cause
The return to Greg: Q & A
In my book, I dig deeply into those topics as I cover my entire life, focusing on the events since my gender dysphoria erupted in 2013, along with discussions of every important aspect impacting trans folks. Find my book here:
When you are a minister, you get to know your members. They are your flock. As their pastor, you shepherd them.
When you are a minister, you get to know a lot of folks in your town. Some become your friends. While they might never join your church, it doesn’t mean an opportunity won’t arise to shepherd them in a pastoral way.
When I was a minister, I got to know Bernie Marsh. She blessed my life. I hope I blessed hers.
In 2003, two years after I arrived in Port Hope, Michigan, to be pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, Bernie’s husband, Dave, died. I had met Bernie a couple of times in her diner, the 4 Seasons Cafe, where she was for years just as much a fixture of the community as was the cafe.
Soon after Dave’s passing, one of my members, a good friend of Bernie’s, stopped by to talk with me about his concern for her. She was taking Dave’s death hard, he said. She could use someone to talk to. He thought I was just the person.
I never liked calling people out of the blue—as I’ve long joked, it’s the reason I never sold vacuums door to door!—so I asked him to check with Bernie to see if she’d like to chat. He did, and she did. I gave her a call. The next morning, I paid her a visit.
As the proprietor of a diner, it’s no surprise that Bernie was a drinker of copious cups of coffee each day. So am I—and I’ve never even worked in a diner! Sitting down with Bernie in her living room—me on the couch and she in her favorite chair—we drained that pot and she put on another.
Bernie wasn’t Lutheran. She was, if I recall correctly, Roman Catholic. A bit of a lapsed one. No matter. She was a human being in need of a listening ear and a caring heart. I was glad to be that person.
We talked of faith issues every time we chatted. If you want to get to the heart of someone’s personality, just talk religion! If you knew Bernie, you knew she had strong opinions. She could even be irascible. Feisty. Never at a loss for words. Woo wee, but did I learn everything she believed, and everything that ticked her off.
And everything that was important to her.
The feisty side of her was balanced by her compassionate and caring heart. Those, who knew her well, can cover this area better than I—those who witnessed the things she did for the good and help of friends and strangers alike. If you were annoyed by Bernie’s I don’t care what anyone thinks, here’s what I think attitude, all of her good qualities melted away everything else.
You couldn’t help but like her.
That summer of 2003, I made the short walk to Bernie’s house a number of times. We never talked less than an hour. We always drained the pot. Bernie unloaded the burden of loss and hurt she was carrying because she had to carry on without Dave. She was able to make it through the week, make it to the next time we talked.
I was in Port Hope eleven more years after that. I enjoyed plenty of breakfasts and lunches in the diner before Bernie gave it up. Over the years, I saw her many times, some of them in St. John’s as she attended a funeral or wedding. We always shared a friendly greeting and a warm hug and a quick laugh. I reveled in that smile of hers which came with a marvelous twinkling in her eye.
Before today, I never told anyone of those visits to Bernie’s. I’m glad to do so now, through the sadness of her passing.
I hope I was a blessing to Bernie. She certainly was for me. I made a friend, and through those chats with her I grew as both a minister and a human being. She was one of the many lessons of my life, where I learned the value and importance of being there for another.
I bet there’s someone for whom you could be there, who simply needs a friend to listen. That’s all I did for Bernie. Sure, I had a suggestion here and a thought there to help her cope and carry on, and I made sure to share the Lord’s love for her in Jesus Christ. But mostly I listened. Mostly, I hugged. Mostly, I was just there for her.
I’ve been gone from Port Hope nearly five years. I miss so many people. I look forward to seeing them again.
With the publication of my book, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane,” and my goal of educating regarding gender dysphoria and being transgender through the presentation I have developed, the aptly named “Transanswers,” the time was ripe for me to have a website with my name on it.
The website provides an easy CONTACT ME page, where anyone can email me directly. Indeed, I’ve learned that it works. A person, who purchased my book, used it to contact me, and we’ve now begun a conversation.
Over time, I will build the site. Right now, you will find on it a link to my book and information regarding Transanswers. There’s also a nifty photo album of my life—from my youth to adulthood, and through my trans years to now—including some pictures I’ve never published before.
I won’t give up this blog. Over the last four years I’ve cultivated a nice readership on it. And since publishing my book I’ve seen an uptick in visitors, with lots of posts read on the many transgender and Christian topics which litter my menu.
I am in the process of producing the print edition. Stay tuned for details on that!
Five-star ratings and rave reviews!
Fourteen reviews have been posted to my Amazon book page. Every reviewer has been wonderfully generous in their assessment of the book. Thirteen of fourteen have given it five stars.
I am elated readers are finding my story compelling, and are learning about gender dysphoria and the struggles transgender people experience. And, I must confess, I love it when they write, “I couldn’t put it down!”
Eight years ago this week, my phone rang Saturday afternoon. It was one of my closest pastor friends. He began, “Greg, my son shot himself to death, today.” He then gave me the privilege of ministering to his family in those difficult days.
Many people are confused about suicide. Many wonder if a person is automatically damned if he takes his own life. I hope the funeral sermon I preached answers vital questions.
All names have been changed.
Dear members of the congregation, friends of Mark, and especially to his family: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
You might think you are here for Mark, or for the Schultzes. You might think this is about Mark. Everyone knows that’s what a funeral is for, to speak well of our loved one and remember him. I will certainly do that, but that’s not really what this is about. When I talk about Mark, please hear everything I say under this heading: what the Lord Jesus did for Mark.
As your presence here is a marvelous show of love and support for the Schultzes, you are in this church to lean, with all your weight, upon the gifts and promises of God the Father, purchased and won for you through His Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all of your sins, so that you possess life which defeats the grave, so that you are saved from death, devil, and damnation.
This sermon has three sections. First, a little bit about the man Mark was—about the young man, from what I learned on Monday when visiting with the Schultzes, who was a bright, funny, creative, precocious, talented, caring, loving, and empathetic young man. Second, an important section about sin, about the topic that you don’t want me to talk about today but one on which people always have so many questions: taking one’s life, and about your own battles with the enticing world, the tempting devil, and the weak flesh in which each one of us lives. Finally, the best part: the eternal life to come in the resurrection from the dead.
As I take up the first section, I must bathe it in the fact that Mark wasn’t simply the multi-gifted guy you knew him to be, but he was, first and best, a child of God. Mark was conceived and born a sinner. As he received every physical attribute from his parents, he received their spiritual attributes, the sin of every generation which stems from Adam’s original sin.
Because Alan and Beth loved Mark, they quickly took Mark to the font of forgiveness; the baptism of Jesus Christ in which Mark became the righteous possessor of his Lord’s promises: faith in Jesus Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of all his sins. God’s Word declares that the baptized one is joined with Christ in His death and raised with Christ in His resurrection, and that the baptized one puts on Christ as a robe of righteousness.
In every way, Mark was a typical, young, American male. I read all of his interests on his Facebook wall, and the many posts of his friends. I’ve heard the family stories.
The Lord equipped Mark with a fine body and a wonderful mind. Dad and Mom want you to know that Mark succeeded in sports because he was persistent. But, they were most pleased with the caring nature of their firstborn son. See, Mark simply could not bear to see anyone get hurt, nor to hurt anyone. You know, Alan and Beth, that sounds to me like living the Golden Rule.
Mark’s siblings want you to know how gifted their big brother was, the things he did to make them laugh—many of which are definitely only for family consumption—how compassionate he could be with them, and that he was such an awesome musician.
To all of you, who knew and loved Mark, he was special because he was a neat and nice guy. But, of eternally greater importance, to God the Father Mark was as holy as Jesus Christ, for God the Father always saw Mark through his Savior. Mark was holy in God the Father’s eyes, righteous and beloved, because Jesus is righteous and beloved of the Father, and Mark belonged to Jesus—Mark belongs to Jesus.
Here is Mark’s confirmation verse, Revelation 7:14: “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (all Bible passages NIV). When Mark’s soul arrived in heaven, he joined this crowd which is gathered around the throne of God the Father and the Lamb Jesus Christ. Mark did, indeed, arrive in heaven from the great tribulation of this world and of his personal struggles, and now Mark is declared with all the other saints in heaven to be one whose robe was washed white—pure, holy, freed from the penalty of sin—in the blood of the Lamb.
That’s what the Lord Jesus did for Mark when Mark was baptized and throughout Mark’s life. That’s what Jesus does for you, the baptized who still live in this great tribulation. Lean on that today. Trust in that tomorrow. Rejoice in Christ forever.
Moving to section two, we need to address some sticky questions. How can a loving Jesus let such terrible things happen? Doesn’t God promise to never give us more than we can bear? And, I will dare to ask the one that’s so hard to talk about: can a person go to heaven who took his own life?
How can a loving Jesus let such terrible things happen? A few years ago, when I was in a similar, tragic situation in Port Hope, it came to me to answer this question thus: do you want God to step into your life every time you are about to sin? Can you imagine if, every time you might misuse God’s name or tell a lie, He would zap you just enough to stop your mouth; or every time you were about to covet or lust or hate, He would turn your thoughts into fields of daisies and butterflies; or every time you are about to open the fridge for that evening snack that you don’t need, He would slam the fridge door on your fingers?
Do you want a God who controls your life? Is that what love does—build fences around us so that we can never do wrong, so that we can never get hurt?
As all parents do, Alan and Beth let Mark grow and let him go into the world. Jesus did the same for Mark. As Alan and Beth always had their hearts watching over Mark, and were always there to take his calls, answer his questions, and provide for his needs, so much more did the Lord Jesus always take Mark’s calls, answer his prayers, and provide for his needs. Alan and Beth let Mark make mistakes—that’s what love does, it gives freedom to do right and freedom to fail. From heaven, Jesus gave Mark freedom to live his life, to pass the tests of life or to fail them, but He always loved Mark, and in the ways that matter for Mark’s eternal life, He always kept Mark safe. Never did Jesus leave Mark; never did He forsake Mark.
The Lord doesn’t control our lives and, to ease into the second question, He does not give us more than we can handle—well, hold on; let’s look at what the Word of God says in full: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Here’s what happens: every person has his own set of struggles, trials, and temptations—tests of weakness, illness, and maladies of every type. For you, the Christian, when there is no other answer—when you can’t fix a problem, or cure an illness, or avoid a temptation, or pass a test—there is always God’s answer to your trouble: Jesus Christ and His strength, His compassion, His forgiveness, and the wisdom of His Holy Spirit.
So, here’s what happens: we don’t always pay attention to the last part of this passage: “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” We follow our own thinking. We listen to the ways of the world. And that wily devil, who has been learning our weaknesses, having been observing us all of our lives, knows exactly where to strike with his evil intentions. And we don’t stand up under it. We fall.
We ask: how can a Christian take his own life? Fair enough. As long as we are asking, let’s also ask:
How can a Christian cheat on his wife?
How can a Christian, who knows that God forgives his every sin for Christ’s sake, still hold onto grudges and not forgive others?
How can a Christian steal?
How can a Christian gossip?
How can a Christian sass his dad or mom?
How can a Christian delight in getting drunk?
How can a Christian misuse Jesus’ holy name?
The fact of our sinful nature is that we Christians commit every sin under the sun. To recognize this is not to excuse this. And please hear this clearly: nothing I say, today, gives anyone permission to do harm to himself. Listen to Beth Schultz on this: first, if Mark were healthy, this would never have happened and, second, Mark never meant to hurt anyone.
What I am working to achieve in this sermon is understanding: understanding of our frail minds and bodies; understanding of our brother, Mark; and, best of all, understanding God’s grace, Jesus Christ’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence . . . especially when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Thus, we land on the question: how can a person go to heaven who took his own life? Actually, we can shorten it, for the question is the same for all: how can a person go to heaven? For this, I need only proclaim the promises and gifts of Jesus Christ:
1 Timothy 1:15: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”
John 3:17: “For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
And, two verses later: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”
Romans 14:7-8: “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
Romans 8:39: “Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Finally, in John 6:40 hear the Lord Jesus: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
This takes us to the third and best section of the sermon—Jesus’ promise: “I will raise him up at the last day.” This is what Job was talking about: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I, and not another!”
Mark knows that His Redeemer lives, and in the end Mark will stand upon the earth, and after his skin has been destroyed, yet in his resurrected flesh he will see Jesus.
First Corinthians fifteen tells us four ways our bodies go into the earth because of death, and four ways in which death will be conquered in the resurrection given to us by Jesus Christ.
First, the body that is sown into the earth is perishable—that is, we live in bodies that can and do die, and we can’t stop it. But, the body Jesus will raise from the dead will be imperishable—never to be touched by death again.
Second, the body that is sown into the earth is laid to rest in dishonor—that is, it is a shame that our bodies should be captured in a casket. But the body Jesus will raise from the dead will be raised in glory—the resurrected body will never again be held captive.
Third, the body that is sown into the earth is sown in weakness—these present bodies succumb to disease, to old age, to accidents, to every manner of harm which silence them. But the body Jesus will raise from the dead will be raised in power—no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain will ever visit our resurrected bodies.
Finally, the body that is sown into the earth is a natural body—we are shackled to the laws of this corrupted world, in this sinful nature. But the body Jesus will raise from the dead will be raised a spiritual body—and of this I can barely speak, because you and I cannot begin to imagine what it will be like to transcend the only world we know.
All of this, dear friends, Jesus Christ prepared for Mark and for you. So, for now, Mark’s soul delights in heaven, at the foot of the Lord Jesus’ throne, praising Jesus for his salvation. So, for now, you delight in the house of Jesus, at His altar-throne, from which He is proclaimed in the Gospel, in which you are baptized into His gifts, and from where you are fed upon His living body and blood.
I close with this verse from Romans, which is really hard to digest: “We rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And, hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time . . . While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dear Alan and Beth, and all who loved Mark: God’s Holy Spirit is at work today so that in your suffering your faith will be strengthened that you might persevere, building your Christian character by which you live in hope for the rest of your days in this great tribulation—the sure and certain hope which is Jesus Christ, the Victor over death.
My book, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane—One Wild Ride: My Journey with Gender Identity,” is now available on Amazon. Purchase the ebook for $4.99. (I hope to offer it in print, soon.)
I published RCTH (as I like to abbreviate it) last week. The first five days it was available, I offered it free of charge to those people who said they would read it in a week or so and then place a review on Amazon.
Since it was available on Amazon, shoppers on the site could see it and get it for free. The first few days, I assumed those downloading it were the fifty or so whom I notified of its being ready. The sales statistics reflected this:
January 30: 27
January 31: 38
Enough copies were downloaded that RCTH reached the Top 100 Free Books list in two categories. Once there, Amazon shoppers now could see it and my sales reflected it:
February 1: 55
February 2: 178
February 3: 82
I had my moment at #1 of the Top 100 Free ebooks in the Parenting category. Parenting, you ask? Yup. Of the five areas I was able to categorize RCTH, one was “Parenting and Relationships.” Who knew they would further break down the category when listing sales? By their doing so, I leapt to number one!
In the category it seems RCTH is most appropriate—Biographies and Memoirs— I did quite well, on Saturday reaching a high of #14.
Finally, in the overall sales of ebooks, I reached a high of #821.
That now all is history. The five day free period has elapsed. It’s onto the paid sales department. And, now I ask kindly that if you have read RCTH and found it to be a “I can’t put it down” book, as everyone has expressed to me whose read it, would you post a review on my Amazon page and share it on your Facebook wall, or Twitter feed, or by that tried and true, old fashioned yet reliable, word of mouth?