Man tells how he underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a woman, then de-transitioned BACK to a man and now says people with identity issues need therapy – not a sex change
- Walt Heyer, 79, underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a woman in 1983, when he was 43 years old and married with two kids
- After eight years living as Laura Jensen, he de-transitioned to being a man again
- According to Heyer, troubled people are being pushed towards transitioning when they need is therapy to address underlying issues
- ‘What happened in my childhood had never been dealt with as it should have been with psychotherapy. I thought that my problem was my gender,’ he says
- Heyer says when he was four years old his grandmother would cross-dress him and says he was sexually abused by his uncle
- He tells DailyMail.com that unresolved issues with childhood sexual abuse is a recurring theme in those who experience sex change regret
- Heyer has been slammed as trans-phobic and a trans-denier for his vocal criticism of what he calls the Trans Lobby
Laura Collins – Daily Mail Nov 7, 2019
They look for all the world like images of an idyllic childhood. From the beaming little boy in the cowboy costume to the good-looking youth slouched by his Jeep, it’s a picture-perfect montage of an all-American boy to an all American man.
But Walt Heyer finds it hard to look at these photographs. Because they are of his childhood and a past and a person he once sought to so thoroughly erase.
In April 1983, after two years of hormone therapy, Walt Heyer underwent gender reassignment surgery and became a woman, Laura Jensen.
In 1991 after eight years of living as a woman Heyer de-transitioned and became a man once more – one permanently altered both by surgery and regret. And according to Heyer he is not alone.
Now in an explosive interview with DailyMail.com, Heyer, 79, has told how he turned from a man convinced that transitioning was the answer; to one evangelical in his view that the notion of Gender Dysphoria as illness and gender re-assignment surgery as cure is, ‘one of the most widely perpetrated and most dangerous lies’ of our time.
Heyer tells DailyMail.com that his grandmother began cross-dressing him when he was four and he was sexually abused by his uncle when he was young (pictured age 10).
According to Heyer, troubled people are being pushed towards transitioning when what they need is therapy to address underlying issues such as childhood abuse, transvestic disorder and a host of other problems.
While those who are just confused are being affirmed by premature diagnosis and unnecessary ‘treatment.’
Nowhere, he claims, is this more true or contentious than when it comes to children.
Just last month the case of James Younger, a seven-year-old living from Dallas at the center a custody dispute, made headlines for this reason.
Under his mother’s care James lives as a trans girl called Luna. Under his father’s he lives as a little boy.
Each parent disputes the other’s claim regarding what the child wants and accuses the other of abuse. Last month a judge ruled that they have equal joint conservatorship of James and his twin brother.
For Heyer the case is personal. He revealed, ‘His father got in touch with me last year when I was in Texas speaking at a conference and I had the opportunity to meet the boy and spend time with him.’
After doing so Heyer is adamant, ‘He had no idea about being gender dysphoric, but his mother has such a strong influence on him, and she keeps feeding him this idea that he was female. I believe he was fearful about going against his mom.
‘When he was evaluated at the gender clinic and asked to pick the name he preferred, James or Luna, he picked James every time. He only ever picked Luna when his mom was there.’
He added, ‘It’s just so unfortunate that this young boy is going through this trauma and, quite frankly, I think abuse that’s going to do more damage to him than anything else.’
And Heyer should know, he explained, ‘I was about James’s age when my grandmother started cross-dressing me.’
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Heyer recalled, ‘I was about four years old when my grandmother made me a purple chiffon dress and would dress me up in it when she looked after me and tell me how cute I looked and affirm me in it.
‘I have no idea what her obsession was with dressing me up like that whenever she was baby-sitting me. But she said it was our little secret and not to tell your parents.
‘You have to remember this was the 1940s we didn’t even have terms like gender dysphoria but what happens is gender confusion and I felt that.’
He said, ‘After two and a half years my parents found out and my grandmother was no longer allowed to look after me. My dad started applying heavy discipline in terms of spanking and so forth. I think it was his way of trying to ”man me up.” I understand that he was confused, he didn’t know what to do.’
Not long after, Heyer’s childhood was further disrupted when he was sexually molested by an uncle entrusted with his care.
He told his parents but they didn’t believe him, ‘They just said, ”Fred would never do such a thing.” It’s a lie.’
Heyer said, ‘So now, as a little boy, I know that I can’t trust my grandmother. I can’t trust my uncle and I can’t talk to anybody about any of it.
‘And I have these seeds of doubt and confusion from the dress, from being affirmed as a girl and from being abused as a boy.
‘Much later on, I came to realize, that when I transitioned I was living out the life that began with that purple dress and that sexual abuse.
‘I didn’t want to be the boy who was abused.’
According to Heyer, unresolved issues with childhood sexual abuse are a powerful and recurring theme in those who experience sex change regret.
He explained, ‘Every single person of the thousands I have spoken with over the years can pinpoint the trauma or the abuse that lies at the root of it all.
‘It’s not about wanting to be a different gender. It’s about wanting to be a different person – not wanting to be the boy or the girl who was hurt.’
In retrospect Heyer said he did just that, ‘In my early teens I secretly took the name Chrystal West. I only discussed this with my girlfriend, Joy.
‘She was devastated by the news. That was 1957 and I was 15 or 16.’
Around that time, the story of Christine Jorgensen broke – a marine who had changed genders.
Heyer said, ‘It was the first time I had ever heard anyone talk about changing genders.’
He saw the news and the idea was added into the mix of secrets and trauma he already harbored.
Photographs of Heyer in his late teens and early twenties show him proudly standing next to his 1934 Ford or working in an auto shop. He was, he smiles, ‘very manly.’
He said, ‘You need to remember transitioning didn’t even begin until probably the 80s.
‘And so, I got married age 21. I had two children. I had a good job. I worked on the Apollo space missions as an associate engineer.
‘I worked for American Honda motor company as a National Operations Manager for the Ports of Entry.’
Promotions and material success followed but, all of the weight of his childhood trauma and confusion still hung heavy.
Heyer admits that he took drugs and drank to blot out the pain. Looking back, Heyer said, ‘I think that was my way of being suicidal.’
He said, ‘What happened in my childhood had never been dealt with as it should have been with psychotherapy. I thought that my problem was my gender and so eventually I went to a gender therapist.
‘I was living in San Francisco at the time and knew some people who told me about a doctor who was approving people for surgery. That was the summer 1981 and that’s where it all began to start.’
Heyer went to the therapist who told him he needed hormone therapy.
Today Heyer shakes his head at the fact that there was never any question about underlying issues, about mental health problems or historic trauma or abuse.
He says he pretty much walked into a clinic and was given hormones.
Heyer’s marriage fell apart and he divorced two years after he started hormone therapy. It isn’t a subject on which he likes to dwell. His regret at the destruction of a life and a family is clearly one he feels to this day.
His father was no longer alive when he transitioned. His mother did not accept it and his brother, his only sibling, has not spoken to him since.
He said, ‘I would go back to the therapist during that time with doubts but each time I was told, ”No you’re a perfect candidate for gender reassignment surgery.”’
By his own admission when the time came, and he underwent the surgery he himself was utterly convinced that he was doing the right thing.
He said, ‘There’s no negative feedback along the way. No voice of caution.’
The impact was immediate. He said, ‘I lost my job. It wasn’t too long after that that I was homeless and broke and starting from scratch at the age of 42.
‘Really I was beginning my journey back to sanity.’
As Laura Jensen, Heyer felt free to live an entirely different life. For a while he was, he said, ‘elated.’
Today Heyer is more than 33 years clean and sober and it started back then when he went to AA meetings to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction.
He got a job with the FDAC and a nice apartment in the Bay Area. But the elation started to wear off and he began to ask questions of himself and his transition.
He said, ‘I began to read books and see that people who identified as transgender were often also suffering from a thing called co-morbidities; things like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or dis-associative disorder.
‘That was eye opening for me. I began to wonder why the therapist who approved me for surgery didn’t explore things like sexual or physical abuse? Or was cross dressing really part of this?’ he said.
Heyer began thinking critically and the scales fell from his eyes. He said, ‘I began to see that it’s just a cosmetic change. And so, there’s got to be something underlying and pushing this to cause you to not like who you are. So much so that you try to become someone that you can really never become.’
For Heyer that realization – that he was trying to become someone he could really never be – was both liberating and devastating, because with understanding came regret.
Bruce Jenner winning his Olympic gold in 1976 to Caitlyn Jenner, on the cover of Vanity Fair, 2015. Click to enlarge
He said, ‘It’s a costume. It’s a masquerade. It’s Halloween.’
He explained, ‘I finally understood that the surgery never changed me into a woman. And once you’ve come to that realization that you’re not really a woman, then transitioning back really isn’t a big deal because you’re still a man.
‘So, the only thing you have to do is take the breast implants out, get a new wardrobe and understand that somebody did some horrible surgery on you that you can’t repair and begin to restore your life.
‘If you have the mindset like I did, and realize that changing genders is impossible, then going back becomes just who you are.’
The way Heyer sees it now, he hadn’t really lived as a woman for eight years. He had lived as a version of himself utterly unable to cope with the traumas of his past. He turned denial and disassociation into an identity, but it could only ever be temporary.
But however, much Heyer may have experienced his de-transitioning as a sort of homecoming there are some very physical changes that cannot be reversed.
Heyer had undergone, ‘all the surgeries associated’ with transition.
He said, ‘Changes to my body didn’t make me a woman. I never stopped being a man. It was simple to remove the breast implants. I opted to work on my psyche and live with the rest.’
Two decades ago he was, he said, ‘very fortunate’ to meet and fall in love with a ‘wonderful woman who doesn’t care about the changes to my body.’
He and his wife have been married for 22 years and she works with him editing the articles and books he has written on the subject of failed gender reassignment surgery.
He said that some de-transitioning men may opt for a phalloplasty – essentially the operation performed on a trans woman ‘if it matters to you to be able to pee standing up.’
He added, ‘It doesn’t function like it would have before.’
He said, ‘I was lucky. I’d already had my children and managed to maintain a relationship with them.
‘But for some people their transition costs them the chance to ever have children of their own.’
It is a vital part of why he is so opposed to children and even adolescents being given hormone therapy and ‘pushed down the road’ to transition.
He said, ‘I’m sure there are many people who have good intentions but there are others, frankly, who’re making money off the transgender scam.’
Turning back to the court case in Dallas, Heyer said, ‘The mother is a pediatrician and is very keen to transition the boy because she wants to be part of that LGBT rainbow community and transition kids. So, she has got a personal interest in seeing this boy successfully transition at the objection of the child who really didn’t want to.’
According to Heyer, ‘All children are curious. But we’ve taken curiosity and turned it into dysphoria which is where I call it dangerous.
‘We shouldn’t be affirming children right away who are simply curious. We should look into how and why they’ve become curious.’
Today Heyer runs a support website, sexchangeregret.com. He said, ‘I am contacted by people every single day, thousands of people over the ten years I’ve run the site, who have experienced failed gender reassignment surgery.’
‘It’s heartbreaking. The truth is that for many, many, people the story doesn’t stop with transition.
‘It’s not just me saying it. Harry Benjamin, one of the researchers at the first Gender clinic in John Hopkins Hospital concluded after years of working in the field that surgery was, ‘a temporary reprieve’ and that eight, nine, ten, maybe more, years down the line there is regret and trauma.
‘Dr Ihlenfeld, who was an endocrinologist administering cross-sex hormones in Harry Benjamin’s clinics concluded that there was, ‘too much unhappiness among those who had surgery.’
‘I’ll be interested to see how Caitlyn Jenner feels in eight years’ time.’
Before our interview Heyer requested that his address be kept secret for fear of violent reprisal. He has been slammed as trans-phobic and a trans-denier for his vocal criticism of what he calls the Trans Lobby. He brushes it off.
He said, ‘There have been threats. But my life’s mission today is to let people who are experiencing regret know that there are people out there to help them and that they are not alone.
‘Before I dove into all of this I thought I was the only one, but people need to know that they are not alone’
He said, ‘I’m not saying it never works. I’d never say never. But this aspect should be part of the conversation because the more transition surgeries there are the more people there are who regret it.
‘I think everybody who comes in and identifies as transgender should have really good psychotherapy from somebody who’s not approving them or supporting them but looking for potential comorbid disorders and deal with those. And if they treat that and the person still wants to transition that’s a whole different ball of wax.
‘But right now I’m speaking for people who don’t have a voice and think they don’t’ have support. Suicide rates in post-operative transgender community are 19 per cent. If we can save one person just by applying good, effective presurgical psychotherapy then it’s worth it.
Pausing, Heyer added, ‘I’m sorry if I get passionate about this but I have lived it. It’s not about shaming or condemning it’s about helping others know they are not alone and that purpose helps me makes sense of my own regret.