Walt Heyer knows firsthand what it’s like to undergo sex change surgery and then regret it. After living as a woman for nearly a decade, he decided to accept his biological sex and de-transition back to male. By then, Walt had received intensive cognitive therapy that helped him recognize early childhood trauma he had experienced.
The trauma resulted in a mental condition known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). In the clarity of that realization, his gender dysphoria simply vanished. His life as a “woman” all amounted to an attempt to escape reality. Sadly, too few people consider the possibility that gender dysphoria can manifest as a byproduct or symptom of other mental conditions, and most certainly of DID. (More on that below.)
Walt suffered huge waves of regret as a result of following through with his urge to be a woman. He had eagerly taken the bait of politicized medical practitioners, who hurried him along in the transition. He not only regretted what he had done to his body, he also grieved over the estrangement from his wife and children caused by his drastic change in identity.
There was collateral damage to other personal relationships as well. He also regretted the lost decade of his life in which he lived in the persona of a woman.
Heyer’s New Book Shines Light on Trans Life Survivors
Heyer has written several books on transgender regret, but his sixth and newest book, “Trans Life Survivors,” is not his personal story. It’s a compilation of the stories of many others caught up in today’s “transmania.” They specifically sought out Walt to get some much-needed support. They’ve shared their lonely, surreal experiences falling down the trans rabbit hole, hoping to escape as he did.
Walt’s correspondents describe a wide range of frustrating and confusing experiences. Some are nudged into transgenderism by social pressures and emotional manipulation. Many are hastily sent into surgery without adequate counseling (or any counseling at all), or are misdiagnosed. Some of those regret their decision very shortly after having irreversible surgery.
Many concerns about childhood traumas are ignored by therapists who are politically motivated to push as many patients as possible into sex change. They also fear intense ostracism and vicious backlash from the trans community if they “come out” as a potential de-transitioner.
Walt wrote “Trans Life Survivors,” he says, because he wants others “to catch a glimpse of the raw emotions and experiences of people who are harmed by the grand – and dangerous – experiment of cross-sex hormones and surgical affirming procedures.”
Helping Others Escape the Trans Rabbit Hole
For many years, Heyer’s website was virtually the only place for a trans regretter to get some relief from the social and political pressures crashing down. Many of his readers express a joyful sense of liberation in knowing that they are not all alone.
Much of their isolation is caused by our society’s slavish obedience to political correctness, which dictates that there is “no such thing” as transgender regret. Even worse, the transgender lobby is making it very difficult for such people to get the counseling they desperately want and need.
They’ve set up roadblocks in the form of new laws that virtually ban standard cognitive therapy for people who diagnose themselves with gender dysphoria, particularly those who are undecided about their path or actually regret it after the fact. Any legitimate form of talk therapy—therapy that allows for real Q-and-A that doesn’t necessarily result in affirmation of gender dysphoria—has been smeared with the label “conversion therapy.”
Regretters are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They are not unlike recruits in a dangerous cult who sense that something is amiss, but feel trapped in a Hotel California (or even a Jonestown).
So “Trans Life Survivors” is a godsend for people struggling with trans regret, no matter what stage of transition or de-transition they are in. The book highlights 30 stories gleaned from among the many hundreds Heyer has received from his readers. Many more transgender people have contacted Walt over the years. Walt has been trying valiantly to keep up with the increasing volume of contacts.
His readers are grateful to find a place they can get real and rare information about how changing their identity might affect them down the road—or, increasingly, how they can de-transition once they realize how unhappy the process has made them.
Just Imagine How Regretting a Sex Change Would Feel
Can you imagine what it must be like to tell a therapist of your experience being abused as a child, which you offer as a possible explanation for your dysphoria, only to have the psychiatrist totally ignore that aspect of your past and instead push you to sex-change procedures as the only way to overcome your angst?
Imagine that you then defer to and trust the professional’s expertise, and you accept the treatment. Then, can you imagine, after going through all of that—the hormones, the mutilating surgeries, etc.—you realize it just didn’t work? You end up asking yourself: What did I do? Why did I go ahead with this? Then the trans lobby tells you it’s all your fault, you should have known better, and you’re not really trans anyway, so shut up.
That’s Billy’s story. But his story has a good ending that inspires regretters who have lost hope. Billy de-transitioned, fell in love, and ended up marrying a woman with children. This echoes Walt’s own life experience after de-transitioning. He too fell in love and married an amazing woman. They live a very joyful, rich, and fulfilling spiritual life together as Christians.
Such happy endings and strong relationships might seem unlikely to those who think they’ve hit rock bottom. But those results are real, and they are a source of much hope to those who yearn to de-transition, but who feel “abandoned, ostracized, outcast, and alone,” like Kevin, who reported that his sex-change was the biggest mistake of his life. Only God knows how many regretters Walt has steered away from suicide and towards renewed life.
In “Trans Life Survivors,” you’ll also read about “Blair,” who holds a Guinness World Record for most gender-reassignment surgeries: 167 surgeries to make him feel more like a woman. Needless to say, it didn’t work out. But we can easily suspect in his case the existence of surgical predators who take advantage of vulnerable people. Many others, like Michael, recognize that it’s all “a sick money-making industry.”
Others who have communicated with Walt include parents whose children are being pressured into gender transition by public school officials, social media, and pop culture. “Trans Life Survivors” also includes chapters on the medical realities of sex change as well as the politicization of medicine and psychiatry that locks people into a transgender identity.
The book ends with a useful listing of further resources for those who seek to find a way out. Such resources are very hard to come by, so the book is truly a public service.
Suppressed Support For Those De-Transitioning
After the novelty of the transition wears off—and it very often does—the regretter is stuck in a never-never land of keeping up facades and pretenses. Many report that the constant charade is emotionally draining and casts a pall over life. But if they express a desire to change back, their friends in the trans community often become angry and reject and isolate them.
Being shunned by one’s own community is painful. Eric wrote: “I’m trying to come out as a regretter, and I’m finding the community backlash to be difficult and the lack of medical support to be troubling.”
Walt knows that feeling very well. The transgender lobby has come out hard against him when he has spoken publicly about his personal experiences. In addition to smearing him with various epithets such as “religious nut” or “transphobic,” the lobby has worked hard to de-platform him.
Media Matters went into panic mode and ran a smear article when Walt gave a persuasive interview to CNN’s Carol Costello after Olympian Bruce Jenner’s 2015 transition. (Walt’s instincts tell him that Jenner regrets his decision, but is hopelessly stuck in the cultish trap of the limelight. I believe he’s right about that.)
Eric reported an unsettling lack of medical support. Walt cites numerous studies confirming that most cases of gender dysphoria co-exist with other mental conditions, such as DID, bipolar disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. If those other conditions were first treated through cognitive therapy, there’s no telling how much that would alleviate gender dysphoria without any need for invasive surgeries and hormonal treatments.
But this seems to be a well-guarded secret by political and media activists with a stake in promoting identity politics in general, and gender ideology in particular. Why? Probably because it could solve their problems, and their problems are the bread-and-butter of identity politics.
Free Speech Is More Important than Ever
The pressure can be even worse when dealing with the government agencies that supposedly respect the right to choosing one’s sex. Walt spent about 30 years—making eight to ten attempts—before he finally got a judge in California to reinstate the word “male” on his birth certificate. Despite all that, the transgender lobby insists Walt was never really transgender in the first place! Yet, strangely, they accept his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder.
The key question is this: Would Walt’s accusers allow others the same therapy, allowing them clarity to sort out whether their gender dysphoria is a part of a co-existing condition? After all, when claiming that Walt was “never transgender” they often point out and accept his diagnosis of DID. The Media Matters story cited above did just that.
So would they allow people with gender dysphoria to seek out therapies that actually explore its psychological source? And then allow their condition to be treated so their gender dysphoria might actually vanish without facades and surgeries?
Obviously not, since this goes against the trans activists’ claim that there’s such a thing as a woman’s brain trapped in a man’s body, and vice versa. Real cognitive therapy threatens to collapse that house of cards.
The ban on so-called conversion therapy is really a ban on all talk therapy that doesn’t affirm self-diagnosed gender dysphoria. Any therapist who so much as questions a patient’s yearning to be the other sex risks losing his or her license, or worse.
If the patient has nagging questions, therapists cannot even entertain those questions without putting license and job at risk, since the interpretation of what constitutes “conversion therapy” is so loose. It’s all up to trans activists and their legislative machinery. Psychotherapists are increasingly aware that they are now legally required to play along with each and every self-diagnosed case of gender dysphoria presented to them, or face legal consequences.
De-Transitioners Are Simply on a Journey Home
When one speaks of “going home” in the poetic sense, it has nothing to do with abuses or dysfunction that one might have experienced, leading to gender dysphoria. Being “home” simply means having a sense of being in the right place, living out your God-given purpose in your God-given body. It means being comfortable in your own skin so you can enjoy the view outward instead of constant navel-gazing.
When you don’t have that joy, or if you’ve lost it along the way, a different sort of dysphoria sets in. It can go by the name homesickness.
At some point in our maturity, we realize that joy and adventure don’t have to be in some alien place. When you go looking for your heart’s desire, to paraphrase Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” there is much to discover right in your own backyard.
In fact, there is probably even more excitement in discovering the true reality of who you are than in pursuing shiny objects, trying to pretend to be someone else, and then trying to force everybody around you to cater to that persona. How exhausting.
The Joy Outweighs the Sorrow
As scary as de-transitioning might seem, once the possibility of it is validated by someone like Heyer, who’s been there and done that, there is a great joy in it, no matter the physical disfigurement or the years wasted.
Trent explained this when he wrote that he was very much looking forward to having his breast implants removed and getting men’s clothes back into his wardrobe: “It’s really been so exciting going back to who I really am!” He also noted: “Hidden deep underneath the make-up and female clothing was the little boy carrying the hurts from traumatic childhood events and he was making himself known. Being a female turned out to be only a cover up, not healing.”
Such attempted cover-ups are analogous to reaching for a mirage. In this case we might say it’s a rainbow-like mirage. Regretters are not unlike Dorothy—and all of us—who sang wistfully searching for a place “over the rainbow” where our troubles melt away. But the rainbow always recedes as you try to reach it. And it’s ephemeral, disappearing with varying conditions.
At some point, like Dorothy, you realize that there really is no place like home. You can finally see the magic, the warmth, in the seemingly mundane. But regretters first need to escape the isolation and the loneliness foisted on them by a culture that rejects their condition.
As Walt notes, they need support to make this trek, as did he: “Regretters going back need people around them to lend strength for the journey – people willing to listen with love, speak healing words, provide emotional, legal and financial assistance and cheer them on to their homecoming.”
“Trans Life Survivors” serves as a road map to make that journey back home.