Fourteen years ago, school teacher Herb McCaffrey made the local news by deciding to live as a female with the name Kerri. After much soul-searching, however, this teacher says, “Since then I have come to the realization that I made a mistake. I am living my life as honestly as I can. I am working as ‘Ms. McCaffrey.’ I have learned to love both the reading and writing of poetry. I try to be as graceful in life as I can. I put my heart and soul into being the best I can be. God is there for me each step of the way—but only by being totally honest in prayer.”
Kerri’s kind of transparency is rare because it is uncompromising in knowing “God is there for me.” Kerri says this comes from the core of the teacher’s soul, knowing it is time to set the record right with God.
Here Is Some of Kerri’s Story
I have come to know Kerri over the last year or so, spending time together and finding Kerri to be a bright, honest, sensitive, and caring person who now realizes changing genders was a mistake. Kerri originally contacted me because Kerri found my website, and we became friends as a result of having much in common with our transgender journeys.
Kerri transitioned at age 41; I transitioned at age 42. We both were heterosexual men who had married wonderful women and had great careers. We were each a father to two children and loved our family. We were not homosexual—our struggles were with our gender persona.
Kerri was looking for answers about the time Renee Richards captivated the world playing tennis in the U.S. Open as a transsexual woman and felt this was a new direction in life. Like Kerri, Richards later had regrets, as The New York Times revealed in a 2007 article titled “The Lady Regrets.”
I learned about “sex change surgeries” when former U.S. Marine Christine Jorgensen made headlines in 1952 as the first person to undergo sex-change surgery and hormone treatments in Denmark. Jorgensen continued to make headlines. He drank all day to excess and was a chain smoker. Jorgensen’s health deteriorated, and he died at age 62.
As a boy named Herb, Kerri grew up in the idyllic setting of Hawthorne, New York, directly next to a Dominican convent with a raspberry farm, fields, and orchards. Life was delicious. Herb loved the outdoors, romped around David Rockefeller’s Hudson Pines farm, and sat in crabapple trees praying as the nuns sang heavenly vespers close by.
I grew up in California near downtown Los Angeles. There were no orchards or raspberry fields on the streets where I lived, but it was so idyllic our street would have made a good canvas for a Norman Rockwell painting. Herb and I were just boys, each struggling with our core identity growing up. The media stories of transgender celebrities lit the match that started each of us on a transgender journey. Eventually, we both came to admit it was a mistake we regret.
How Kerri’s Mixed Feelings Began
Kerri remembers the childhood feelings as boy Herb: “Into this beautiful place inner confusion started snaking its way toward my heart and soul. I would be at our summer pool—Rocky Ledge, in North White Plains, New York, and would see the girls playing hopscotch, or cat’s cradle with yarn, or jumping rope. I didn’t want to be playing cards with the boys—hearts, black jack, and rummy—I wanted to be with the girls. I began to feel a knot inside which I could not tell anyone about.”
Herb soon felt he wanted to be a girl. By age ten, his desire felt set in concrete, but Herb had shared it with no one. His parents moved the family to a well-heeled town in New Jersey where, Kerri says, “I would dress as the young lady I thought I was, hiding bracelets or necklaces under my long-sleeves.”
Herb grew into an excellent swimmer; he was even nominated to West Point by Rep. Millicent Fenwick, but did not follow that path, and eventually graduated from college. Herb married and became the father of two sons. But eventually Herb became convinced the answer to his feelings was to become “that someone else” he had thought about as a kid. Divorce ensued.
At age 41, Herb underwent gender reassignment surgery in Canada, and became the first openly transgender teacher in New Jersey to retain his position. At first, life as a woman was exciting, Kerri says. There was a relief in being able to dress and act as Kerri wanted. But as the years went by, Kerri felt more spiritually uncomfortable as a woman than Kerri ever felt as Herb the man.
Kerri Regrets What Transgenderism Cost
Kerri lost a stable marriage to a wife who did everything she could to keep Herb stable. This father of two boys lost the ability to see his children whenever he wanted and to coach his boys in sports. Most of Herb’s friends went away. Relationships with siblings ended. The transition across the gender bridge, Kerri found, affects everything.
Now, when sitting in a pew at church and reflecting quietly, Kerri says, “I know that what I have done to my body and soul is wrong for me—this is the evidence that indicts. My family life was nearly destroyed by changing gender. I can only do a few things like pray and try over time to correct the mistake that was made.”
Kerri is still “Dad” to his boys. Kerri tried the “Mom” thing early on, and it didn’t work. Kerri says, “They have a mom already, and the truth is, biologically, I am a father—their father. My boys are comfortable calling me Dad.”
Kerri isn’t trying to stop others from transitioning, but to send up a caution flare to all considering it that the transgender journey may look attractive at first but may not turn out to be as enticing as it looks. As Kerri says, “We can take hormones, have surgeries—we can change our names—but we cannot change the core of our soul…If you are contemplating a change of gender, consider that you are not changing the reality of the natural world. This is transgender surgery—it is not a spirit transplant.”
As a transgender person, Kerri has “talked the talk and walked the walk” for 14 years. As teacher “Ms. McCaffrey,” even with regret, Kerri is part of the transgender population’s diversity.
People Regret Becoming Trans All the Time
Transgender regret is not rare at all. Many regrettable outcomes from “sex changes” are featured in my newly released book, “Trans Life Survivors.” Even the liberal-leaning Guardian reported in a 2004 article that “Sex Changes Not Effective, Say Researchers.” The article explains, “Research from the US and Holland suggests that up to a fifth of patients regret changing sex.” That 20 percent regret rate confirms Kerri, Richards, and I are not alone in our regret.
We should not be surprised by Kerri saying it was a mistake. Transgender activists 40 years ago were told gender changes would only provide a “temporary reprieve,” not a lifelong treatment solution for gender distress or dysphoria.
Dr. Charles L. Ihlenfeld, a homosexual and transgender activist endocrinologist who administered hormone therapy to some 500 transgenders over a six-year period at a New York gender clinic, claimed a sex change is by no means a solution to life’s problems. He thinks of it more as a kind of reprieve. “It buys maybe 10 or 15 years of a happier life,” he said.
Kerri’s female identity has lasted 14 years, falling into the timeframe Ihlenfeld predicted 40 years ago. Ihlenfeld said that 80 percent of the patients who want to change their sex shouldn’t do it because “There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery. Too many of them end as suicides.” No one was listening to the doctor then; are we willing to listen now? Regrettable outcomes deserve to be taken seriously, not scorned or marginalized.
Many people, including doctors and researchers, are sounding the warning that the transgender bridge is rickety and unstable. More people who choose detransition are uploading their stories in videos to YouTube. More websites are discussing regrettable outcomes, and posting stories, such as Harvestusa.org, Sexchangeregret.com, 4thWaveNow.com, and Help4Families.org.
The Harvest USA website says, “These transition stories are important because they present a reality that the general media blithely ignores. Our culture’s aggressive push to disconnect gender from biological sex, rooted not in reality but ideology, does not always lead to ‘authentic lives’ and happy endings.”
I Regret My Transgender Life Now, Too
When I became Laura Jensen, a transgender female, at the hands of Dr. Stanly Biber in 1983, I was told hormones and surgery was the only treatment for gender dysphoria. As Laura Jensen, I was welcomed into a California church and through prayer came to realize my gender change was unnecessary and a mistake.
I knew the gender change came from disordered thoughts about who I was. I learned hormones and surgery cannot change me from a man into a woman—that is biologically impossible. Gender and sex are fixed and innate at conception and unchangeable, no matter how expertly the doctors try with hormones and surgery.
More than anything, I wanted my real life back. I turned to Jesus Christ in prayer for years, along with others I asked to pray for me. The Lord did redeem and restore my life, starting on April 6, 1990, and I never looked back except to say, “Thank you, Jesus. Redemption is wonderful.”
Kerri has nothing to gain by telling this story, but Kerri’s faith in God has bestowed the courage to set the record straight and openly share what Kerri has learned. To one with such bravery I say, “Thank you, Kerri, and bravo for acknowledging the transgender life, for you, was a mistake.”
All Transgender Journeys Should Include Stopping Points
Both Kerri and I want people to think carefully before encouraging or guiding anyone, especially children, into a transgender identity, because the consequences can be devastating and irreversible.
All children are curious about gender. That is normal. Don’t panic, don’t scold the child, and do not make the child feel ashamed of his curiosity, because curiosity does not equal gender dysphoria or a future transition. Avoid any shame or punishment, because that can force the child into isolation. In isolation disordered affections and faulty thinking can take hold.
Kerri says: “Be brave. Be faithful. Be resolute. Before you help [children] change their bodies or gender, teach them about their souls. I must live with mine for eternity; that’s why I wrote this.”
The media is pushing the “T” agenda of the LGBTQ on society, making a change of gender sound promising. Kerri says, “Perhaps they are correct: I can’t speak for anyone but myself and my 14 years of experience. If you need help, talk to someone. I would help you to a professional myself. But on your own, add prayer to your journey.”
Few in the media are willing to accept that transgender people with regrets exist and their stories give a much-needed balance to the conversation. Their voices deserve to be heard, too. It’s time to offer the same compassionate support, protections, and equality as had been afforded them when they transitioned the other way.