Swept under the transgender tent

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 11th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.  A quick update on a story we’ve been covering at WORLD.

On Friday, a Texas judge ordered the parents of James Younger to joint conservatorship of their 7-year-old son. The very public custody dispute is between the two parents over the gender identity of their child.

EICHER: The mother dresses James as a girl and uses a girl’s name for him when he is with her, but the father refuses to because of his Christian faith. The judge ruled that the two parents must agree on any future medical or psychological treatment for James or for his twin brother. The mother promises to challenge the ruling.

This story highlights the ongoing cultural debate over the long-lasting effects of so called “sex reassignment therapy.” One prominent advocate sounding the alarm is Walt Heyer. He works with people who regret their gender transitions.

REICHARD: Heyer and his lawyer filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in regard to an employment dispute over transgender rights that’s now pending a decision.

Heyer’s brief caught my eye, because he is someone with the benefit of 2020 hindsight, a lived experience. 

Heyer was born male, diagnosed at age 40 with gender dysphoria and at 42 underwent sex reassignment surgery. Heyer lived as a female for eight years, and then de-transitioned when he found his distress was not resolved after all.  

Walt Heyer has something to say about contemporary medicine and culture, and the danger when both shut out people like him. 

HEYER: I’m Walt Heyer and I help people who have gone through identifying as a transgender male or female and found that they regretted it. And they contact me and I help them with detransitioning, which often takes about a year or so. 

His grandmother used to dress him up in female clothing, affirming him in that identity. It was all kept a secret until his family learned about it when he was around 7 years old. 

HEYER: This was in 1944 before we ever had the word transgender, gender dysphoria, and any of that to associate with it. So I was dealing with this strictly on my own and, and just realized in looking back now, cause I’m 78 years old. So, in my view, it’s child abuse to affirm and cross dress a kid because it will cause them to be anxious and depressed about who they are. And they’ll begin this process of identifying as a different person, a different gender…

Heyer says that after undergoing gender reassignment surgery and living eight years as “Laura” he realized he was living a lie. 

HEYER: I realized that it’s categorically impossible to change a man into a woman biologically, scientifically, medically, or any other way. So that’s the first thing that you sort of come to the realization is that somehow somebody led you into this idea that you changed. And then when you mature enough to understand that that’s not true, then you become very disappointed that somebody lied to you. And that’s really what most of the people that I work with come to the conclusion is, why did they even allow this to happen?

Typically, people come to Heyer for help between five and 15 years after surgery. I asked him why he thinks all this pressure to affirm transgenderism is happening now. 

HEYER: You know, the kids are just curious. And if they have a parent who’s not really familiar with the facts on it, they begin to say, oh, he must be transgender. And so they began to affirm them and they’ll help them through this process and encourage them to change genders….

More and more people are getting the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Heyer points to popular culture as one reason why that’s happening, as well as the Obama administration’s  appointment of hundreds of LGBT activists to ensure schools put LGBT materials into the school system. 

HEYER: Now the school system is actually encouraging it. They’re nurturing it. They’re indoctrinating kids into the idea that they can be any gender they want, which is absolute total false nonsense. And it’s going to cause these children extensive harm in the long run. This may look good today to people. Uh, believe me, 15 years from now, people are gonna go, wow, why did we ever do this? 

Heyer says what’s missing from contemporary discussions is careful, studied diagnosis. He says many conditions that could be treated without surgery or hormones, simply aren’t diagnosed. Those “co-morbidities,” or other chronic conditions that are also present at the same time, are tossed into the “transgender” category, offered radical medical intervention, and that’s what can lead to regret. 

HEYER: And so I think this is the part that’s very annoying to me is that everybody just takes on face value a person who self identifies as a transgender and makes it law that they are, and they’re not! The vast majority, in fact, there are so few real transgenders. I have not seen one yet.

Heyer is sympathetic to employers who get sued for following the law and common understanding of what is appropriate for males and females. Heyer himself was fired from a high-level job when he transitioned. And he believes that’s the employer’s prerogative. This isn’t about discrimination; it’s about truth telling in mental health.  Giving people the help they need, not just sweeping them under the “transgender” tent to expedite medical intervention.

HEYER: So we have this group of people under this umbrella who are not transgender at all, but our legal system has taken each one of these persons who identifies as a transgender—we’re not dealing with people who are without some complicated emotional, psychological, sexual or social disorder. And I think that’s what’s lost in the employment situations. We’re not digging in and evaluating who the people are.

Heyer wants to serve as a counter to the idea that it’s always the best thing for someone who presents with gender dysphoria to be affirmed in that. 

Heyer’s lawyer Greg Teufel gives an example of a person with another kind of body dysphoria: anorexia. The medical establishment doesn’t approach treatment in a way that affirms it.

TEUFEL: If someone presented like that and said, you know, I need to be skinnier, I go, look, I’m too fat and if I don’t get skinny or I’m going to commit suicide. And you said, well, gosh, here’s stomach stapling. Here’s diet pills. Let’s put you on a low calorie restrictive diet. I’m reaffirming you by telling you you really are fat because God forbid I contradict you and make you commit suicide. I mean, that would be insane. And that’s how the de-transitioners are looking at how people with gender identity issues are being treated.

The Supreme Court justices usually read the amicus briefs, from what I understand. Maybe they’ll read Walt Heyer’s, too.

(Photo/WORLD News Group)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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