Tag Archives: transgender

Former transgendered ‘woman’ turned to Christ; reverted back to manhood

For eight years, Walter Heyer lived as a woman.

“The seed was planted the second my grandmother saw my interest in cross-dressing and put me in a purple chiffon dress when I was four years old. That’s where the gender dysphoria began to grow,” said Heyer, who was a married, successful businessman when he underwent cosmetic surgery to alter his sex at age 42.

But surgery and hormone treatment failed to address his underlying psychological issues. After undergoing therapy and turning his life to Christ, Heyer said he learned to accept his true identity as a man.

Now 78 and married to his second wife for 22 years, Heyer today is an author and public speaker. His new book, Trans Life Survivors, tells the stories of 30 people who reflect on the consequences of their gender transitions. Heyer will speak at the 2020 Legatus Summit.

What will you speak about at the Legatus Summit?

I’m going to be talking about the truth of transgender identities, gender dysphoria, diagnosing children and adults, what that is all about, and what the consequences are. I’m calling the talk, “Reclaiming the truth about gender identity.”

What do you think of the growing acceptance of transgenderism?

 The culture has been led to believe that people are becoming transgender when the truth is, the word “transgender” is an umbrella term for a group of people who behave in a way where they exhibit a cross-gender identity. There are drag queens, cross dressers, transvestites, people with transvestic fetishes and those who have autogynephilia, a condition where a man will dress up, look at himself in the mirror as a female, and the female he sees in the mirror becomes the object of his sexual affection. Then you have another group of people who suffer from body dysmorphia, dissociative disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The term “transgender” doesn’t tell you anything except that the person puts on the opposite gender clothing. Why they behave that way is a bit more complicated.

How did your grandmother “plant the seed” for your own gender confusion?

By her affirming me and going gaga over how cute I looked as a little girl, she restructured the way I thought about myself. That is where the destruction comes, in affirming someone in a cross-gender identity and why I’m totally against affirming anyone in a transgender identity. I call it child abuse.

What do you think of modern gender theory which holds that gender is not fixed at birth?

People don’t actually change gender. It’s really an elaborate masquerade, childlike behavior where people themselves are acting out the behavior of a different gender, but they’re really not. Biologically, they’re still the same. There are deep emotional and psychological issues that, with proper psychotherapy, a person can work through without going through a gender change.

Pope Francis has spoken out against gender theory, which he has called a “global war” against the family. What do you think?

He’s right in that it’s a social contagion. If we put this into a context where we’re talking about kids, we know kids go through identity issues in many different ways over a period of time. We’re now in a cycle where this social contagion of transgenderism is taking place, but it’s really young individuals who are opting for this. These are usually people who aren’t really good at social adaptability and this is sort of an instant way for them to steal the attention that they don’t get or wouldn’t have gotten as who they really are.

What is your new book about?

I’ve had emails come to me from hundreds of people asking for help. In the book, I’ve taken some of their stories and changed the names and locations to allow them to share with the mass population what’s really underlying this whole issue. The book also has my latest research and goes into why transgender ideology is destructive and why it’s not what the Lord wants for us.

Glimpsing the human cost of getting nature wrong

In February of the year, Ohio parents lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter because a judge ruled she should be allowed to receive therapy to identify as a boy.

Americans will see more cases like this as government officials align with transgender activists to promote a radical view of the human person and endorse entirely experimental medical procedures. At stake are not only parental rights, but the well-being of children who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Transgender activists maintain that when a child identifies as the opposite sex in a manner that is “consistent, persistent, and insistent,” the appropriate response is to support that identification. This requires a four-part protocol, as I painstakingly detail in my new book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

First, a social transition: giving a child as young as three a new wardrobe, new name, new pronouns, and treating the child as a member of the opposite sex.

Second, puberty blockers to prevent the normal process of maturation and development. This means there is no progression of the pubertal stage, and a regression of sex characteristics that have already developed.

Third, around age 16, comes the administration of cross-sex hormones: Boys are given feminizing hormones such as estrogen, and girls are given masculinizing hormones such as testosterone. The purpose is to mimic the puberty process that would occur in the opposite sex.

Finally, at age 18, these individuals may undergo sex-reassignment surgery: amputation of primary and secondary sex characteristics and plastic surgery to create new sex characteristics.

Starting a young child on a process of “social transitioning” followed by puberty-blocking drugs was unthinkable not long ago, and treatment is still experimental. Puberty- blocking drugs are not FDA-approved for gender dysphoria, but physicians use them off-label for this purpose. No laws in the U.S. prohibit use of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for children, or regulate age at which they may be administered.

Normally, 80 to 95 percent of children will naturally grow out of any gender- identity conflicted stage. But all the children placed on puberty blockers in the Dutch clinic that pioneered their use persisted in a transgender identity, and went on to begin cross-sex hormone treatment.

This treatment protocol can interfere with the resolution of a gender- identity conflict. The rush of sex hormones and the natural bodily development during puberty may be the very things that help an adolescent actually identify with his or her biological sex.

And sadly, the medical evidence suggests that “transitioning” does not adequately address the mental health problems suffered by those identifying as transgender. Even when procedures are successful technically and cosmetically, and even in cultures relatively “trans-friendly,” people still face poor psychosocial outcomes.

A more cautious therapeutic approach begins by acknowledging the vast majority of children with a gender-identity conflict will outgrow it. An effective therapy looks into reasons for the child’s mistaken gender beliefs, and addresses the problems the child believes will be solved if his body is altered.

As I document in When Harry Became Sally, mental health professionals liken gender dysphoria to other dysphorias (serious discomfort with one’s body) such as anorexia. These tend to involve false assumptions or feelings that solidify into mistaken beliefs about oneself.

As a result, some mistakenly believe that a drastic body change will solve or minimize their psychosocial problems. But altering the body through hormones and surgery doesn’t fix the real problem, any more than liposuction cures anorexia nervosa.

The most helpful therapies do not try to remake the body to conform to misguided thoughts and feelings—which is impossible—but rather help people move toward accepting the reality of their bodily selves.

Biology isn’t bigotry. And there are human costs to getting human nature wrong.

RYAN T. ANDERSON, PH.D. (@ RyanTAnd) was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. He is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of the book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, and of the recently released When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

Responding to the transgender moment

Ryan T. Anderson, PH.D.

28 years ago, the release of When Harry Met Sally highlighted one big debate: whether men and women could really be just friends. That question may still be up in the air, but now we are being forced to confront a more fundamental debate: whether men can really become women.

America is in the midst of what has been called a “transgender moment.” In the space of a year, transgender issues went from something that most Americans had never heard of to a cause claiming the mantle of civil rights. But can a boy truly be “trapped” in a girl’s body? Can modern medicine really “reassign” sex? Is sex something “assigned” in the first place? What’s the loving response to a friend or child experiencing a gender-identity conflict? What should our law say on these issues?

These shouldn’t be difficult questions. Just a few years before When Harry Met Sally hit theaters, Dr. Paul McHugh thought he had convinced the vast majority of medical professionals not to go along with bold claims about sex and gender being proffered by some of his colleagues. And as chair of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, McHugh put a stop to sex reassignment surgery at Hopkins. Once the elite Johns Hopkins did this, many medical centers across the nation followed suit. But in recent years we have seen a resurgence of these drastic procedures—not in light of new scientific evidence, mind you, but as a result of a growing ideological movement. Such is our transgender moment.

The people increasingly in the spotlight of this moment are children. In the past 10 years, dozens of pediatric gender clinics have sprung up throughout the United States. In 2007, Boston Children’s Hospital “became the first major program in the United States to focus on transgender children and adolescents,” as their own website brags. A decade later, over 45 gender clinics had opened their doors to our nation’s children—telling parents that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones may be the only way to prevent teen suicides.

Never mind that according to the best studies — the ones that even transgender activists themselves cite — 80 to 95 percent of children with gender dysphoria will come to identify with and embrace their bodily sex. Never mind that 41 percent of people who identify as transgender will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to 4.6 percent of the general population. Never mind that people who have had transition surgery are 19 times more likely than average to die by suicide.

These statistics should stop us in our tracks.

The psychologists and psychiatrists I spoke with think of gender dysphoria as similar to other dysphorias, or forms of discomfort with one’s body, such as anorexia. The most helpful therapies focus not on achieving the impossible — changing bodies to conform to thoughts and feelings — but on helping people accept and even embrace the truth about their bodies and reality. Operating in the background is a sound understanding of physical and mental health — proper function of one’s body and mind — and a sound understanding of medicine as a practice aimed at restoring health, not simply satisfying the desires of patients. For human beings to flourish, they need to feel comfortable in their own bodies, readily identify with their sex, and believe that they are who they actually are.

In my new book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, I argue that Dr. McHugh got it right. The best biology, psychology and philosophy all support an understanding of sex as a bodily reality, and of gender as a social manifestation of bodily sex. Biology isn’t bigotry. At the Legatus annual conference this coming January I’ll present on my book. I’ll offer a balanced approach to the policy issues, a nuanced vision of human embodiment, and a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong. Despite activists’ best efforts to put up a unified front, Harry cannot become Sally.

RYAN T. ANDERSON, PH.D. (@RyanTAnd) will be a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit in January. He is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author of the book Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination and the newly released When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

Catholic school policy and transgendered students

EDWARD FURTON: Parents and educators need to understand the complexity of this issue . . .

Edward J. Furton

Edward J. Furton

When a parent informs a Catholic school that a child will soon present as a member of the opposite sex, how should the administration respond?

Given the confused moral world in which we live, this question is no longer an academic one. Increasingly, Catholic schools will have to settle on policies concerning children who, in appearance and dress, come to school having “changed their sex.” We must first realize that the child is not at fault. He or she may be in a single-parent household where a member of the same sex is absent; the child thus lacks an appropriate role model. Or the parent(s) may actively encourage identification with the opposite sex in order to satisfy some inner need.

The claim that sexual identity is imposed on us by society — and therefore is malleable and subject to choice — is one of the great delusions of our age. Until recently, an expressed desire to be a member of the opposite sex was recognized as an aberration of normal psychological health. The claim that one’s psychological idea of sexual self does not match one’s physical body is termed “gender dysphoria.”

The Catholic Church offers no judgment on particular medical theories, but rather affirms as central to its theological tradition that the human being, as a unity of body and soul, is destined by God to be the sex plainly visible at birth. Baptismal certificates are determined by physiology and therefore cannot be later revised. Any Catholic policy concerning children who present as a member of the opposite sex at school must clearly affirm this teaching.

Although “cross-dressing” is itself problematic, the Church views with special alarm the decision to surgically alter a healthy male or female body so that one “becomes” a member of the opposite sex. These actions are mutilations and intrinsically immoral. Moreover, they do not change the sex of the person, which remains as it was before the mutilation. Parents should be especially vigilant against allowing others to convince them that they should inflict these surgeries on their children.

Having raised these concerns, consider a factor that compels caution. Some children suffer from genuine genital ambiguities or deformities at birth. These may make the external appearance of sex unclear. Internal organ structure may also be missing or inappropriately developed. Genetic evidence can guide our judgment, but sometimes not even this may be possible, for example, among those who suffer from androgen insensitivity syndrome.

Consider the following possibility. A child born with ambiguous genitalia is surgically altered at birth as a means of correcting the deformity. The surgeon, ignoring the genetic evidence, advises the parents that it would be easier to alter the genitalia so as to give the child a female rather than male appearance. This approach is more likely, he tells them, to produce good surgical results. The parents decide to follow the advice without giving due consideration to the genetic evidence.

One can imagine that, as this supposedly female child grows older and experiences his masculine identity, he would eventually recognize that the physical alterations made to his body were inappropriate. He might tell his parents that he now wants to return to his proper sexual identity and mode of dress. Here Church teaching would encourage the decision of the child. The original operation — although intended to be reparative — was in fact a mutilation; it did not conform to the child’s genetic identity.

Thus the presentation of a child at Catholic school as a member of the opposite sex may in rare cases be the result of a good decision. The correction of a previous error should not be discouraged, but welcomed. Given the confidentiality that is rightly involved in so intimate a matter, Catholic schools are not in a position to distinguish between proper corrective surgery and wrongful cross-dressing or surgical mutilation.

As a general rule, the school must affirm that sexual identity is determined by physical nature. Each of us is a body-soul union, and the body displays our sexuality. This identity cannot be changed by personal whim or desire. The Church’s teaching against mutilation follows the God-given law of nature.

From a practical perspective, the child who presents as the opposite sex at school faces potential ostracism at the hands of friends and classmates. The administration should take decisive steps to limit this harm. At the same time, the whole episode presents the school with an opportunity to publicly explain, by way of letter to the students’ parents, the teachings of the Catholic Church on embodiment, sexual identity, and respect for our created nature.

EDWARD J. FURTON, PH.D., is the director of publications for the National Catholic Bioethics Center.