Acts 17:11, Berean model, Christ, Dissociative Personality Disorder, Dr. Anne Vitale, Fellowship of the Minds, female hormones, Gender Identity Disorder, Gender Reassignment Surgery, hormones and crossed wires, Laura Jensen, multiple personalties, SRS, Trading My Sorrows, Trans Christians, Transition, Transsexual, Walt Heyer
On at least two different websites that I recently visited, a sorrowful account of the life of Walt Heyer was published word for word, image for image and emphasis for emphasis. Only the comments posted by readers differ.
In 2006, Mr. Heyer published a book titled, “Trading My Sorrows”. For whatever reason, his story is experiencing a resurgence in cyberspace. Christians are seizing upon his story as another piece of evidence that transsexuals can be delivered through the healing power of Christ. Of course, that means that they can also trot out quotes from some authority who debunks the idea that people can be born with a body of one gender and the mind of the opposite gender.
Let me make it clear that I sympathize with Mr. Heyer for the terrible ordeal of mental conflict and anguish he experienced for most of his life. In response to that conflict, at some point, Mr. Heyer went through full surgical transformation with both top and bottom surgery. His testimony is that these procedures and the rest of typical transition protocols (name change, living full time as female and so on) made things worse for him, not better. He has since transitioned back to living as a male with his birth name. His book describes how that came about.
I praise God that he appears to be finally delivered from that ordeal. If this was his testimony in 2006 and that testimony remains in place today, then his deliverance has stood a good test of time.
But does this automatically mean that Mr. Heyer was transsexual at one time and no longer transsexual now? It would be helpful if we could look at the evidence from his own words. The problem is, which one of his stories do we believe?
According to the blog post that I came upon, Mr. Heyer’s first interest in feminine things began when one of his grandmothers stepped into the picture with her own selfish desires, whatever motivated her. She made a purple chiffon evening dress for him to wear. He reports that prior to that, his interests were typical for a little boy: cowboys, cars and steel guitars.
The implication is that his grandmother started him down the path of gender confusion. Emotionally distant parents added to his need as a child for love and nurturing. In that circumstance, if Grandma likes me better when I wear the dress and act like a girl, this can be very enticing for a love deprived child.
However, a visit to Mr. Heyer’s website provides a significantly different story. On the page for one of his books, Trading My Sorrows, he writes: “Ever since I could remember, I felt like I was born into the wrong body.” The two stories do not mesh. Did he always know? Or he was a typical little boy with masculine interests until emotionally distant parents and a grandmother who “fancied that he wanted to be a girl” (direct quote from http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/, blog post “A transsexual regrets his “gender-reassignment” surgery” by Dr. Eowyn) triggered his gender confusion? Perhaps Mr. Heyer knows which one.
Perhaps not. At one time, Mr. Heyer had a blog as part of his Trading My Sorrows website. A look at an archive of his blog posts shows an interesting statement made by him on June 10, 2007:
As a transsexual female I was working in a hospital psych unit in a Santa Monica California Hospital some 8 years after the sex changing surgery. A very alert psychiatric doctor begin [sic] to ask me questions. He suggested I was suffering from a dissociative disorder. After I went to several other doctors over several months it was discovered the sex change surgery was an incorrect treatment and unnecessary surgery for someone who, while he insisted he was “a woman born in a man’s body,” had been suffering from multiple personalities from a very young age.
So now we have reason number three: Dissociative Personality Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). Five days later (6/15/07), we have another blog post from Mr. Heyer:
Only 8 years old–why was this happening to me? Night after night tears streamed down my little cheeks, soaking my pillow. I hated what was happening. How could I make Uncle Fred stop touching me? Mom didn’t believe me when I told her about it; she said I was a liar. Was she just protecting him?
I formed a fantasy getaway in my head where no one could hurt me. I enjoyed visiting the secret place where I was safe from being hurt by Uncle Fred.
Tormented by the toxic shame of my nasty secret, I grew into a confused young man. The painful childhood memories would not go away. Marriage, children and a career–I thought they would help, but now the crying was internal. The inner conflict raged, ripping at my core identity.
I was so mixed up. I used alcohol and drugs. Soon a divorce followed and what “they” said was a mental disorder called Gender Identity Disorder.
So we have claims that he always felt like a girl, grandmother caused it with a purple chiffon dress and Uncle Fred was the culprit with sexual abuse.
My final source is a link to a page on the Trans Christians website. https://sites.google.com/site/transchristians/people/walt-heyer
Apparently, Mr. Heyer objected to the initial way his situation was reported. In response, it was acknowledged that one unintentional error in the initial article about him was corrected. Much of this page is a summary of the website’s author attempts to give Mr. Heyer the opportunity to clarify the apparently contradictory remarks he made over the years and the lack of success in reaching answers before Mr. Heyer changed the subject. During this process, there is a link (see the highlighted “He did” in the last bullet point – it is also the last link at the end of this article) to some new claims made by him about his condition, including the fact that he no longer believes he ever had Dissociative Personality Disorder. At the time (2009), he had a new claim: that he suffers from the “phenomenon of ‘hormones and crossed wires’ promoted by Dr Anne Vitale.” According to the author of Trans Christians, however, most of Mr. Heyer’s personal experience is contradictory to Dr. Vitale’s research results. And he refused to confirm whether he is taking female hormones, which would be consistent with Dr. Vitale’s recommended cure.
I agree with the author of Trans Christians that Walt Heyer is not and never was transgender. So much of his own testimony is contrary to any indication that he has or had an internal female gender identity.
However, my complaint is really not with Walt Heyer. Wherever the truth lies about his personal journey, it appears that he dealt with a terrible amount of negative influences from an early age, and that the resultant conflicts created an even more terrible series of trials as he bounced from diagnosis to diagnosis and solution to solution. As a Christian, I am overjoyed when anyone finds peace and deliverance through receiving Christ, His free gift of salvation and His love. The only complaint I have with him is that, because it was not right for him, he makes the illogical and unsubstantiated leaps that transition and SRS are not right for anyone. To defend that position, he needs to make other sweeping and poorly substantiated claims. And there is something that nags at me: did the fault lie with the therapist or with the story he gave to the therapist regarding his personal history up to that point in time.
My primary complaint is with those Christians, however well-intentioned they may be, who jump on a story like this and hold it up as a banner of proof for their beliefs that anyone claiming to be transsexual and acting upon that claim through transition and especially with SRS is sinful, committing a grievous error, going down a wrong path, is going against God’s will and (according to some Christians) condemned to hell. Do they not know the fragile reed of confusion on which they are trusting? Did they not bother to research it further? (It took me about 15 minutes to come up with the primary sources of information by and about Mr. Heyer quoted or linked to here.) Or do they not care and publish only what is convenient?
They would do well to heed the warning from the prophet Isaiah: Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: – Isaiah 36:6a,b
Unfortunately, other trusting Christians rely on the information they publish. Trusting the Lord is always a good thing. Putting trust in man, even other Christians, can be detrimental without verification. It is the same troublesome tendency that causes Christians to automatically pass along erroneous information, warnings, and even prayer requests for situations that either aren’t true or woefully out of date. It is like the e-mail campaign that refused to die because well-meaning Christians continued to forward a warning that Madalyn Murray O’Hair had filed a petition to remove all mention of God from television, even though the petition they referenced was related to educational radio channels (not television), was rejected by the FCC in 1975, had nothing to do with Ms. O’Hair, and she continued to be blamed for the alleged attack on religious programming years after she died and her organization had fallen apart.
I must confess that I briefly fell into the same error of being too trusting. I took it at face value that the blog story about Mr. Heyer was the whole truth, especially when I saw it on repeated on a second website. Therefore, when I posted a response on the Fellowship of the Minds blog site, it was based only on reading that post, not the additional information found on Mr. Heyer’s website as well as other sources about him. Taking the story presented on Fellowship of the Minds as the whole story, I was far more charitable to Mr. Heyer than in this post. Even so, the only two reactions to my post were negative. It appears from their point of view, even when someone praises God for this man’s deliverance, one dare not point out that it was not the cure of a transsexual, even when that conclusion logically comes from his own testimony. How sad.
Fortunately, as I began writing this blog post, the Spirit prompted me to dig deeper. This is why it took me a bit longer to post than anticipated. It was not only the time required to do the research, it was that I needed to revise what I had already written and adjust the thrust of the article. And while I regret coming close to piling on a man whose life has already suffered more than its share, it was needful to show how much was omitted from the Fellowship of the Minds post.
This is why when I have a serious post on theological issues, whether relating to transgender or some other topic, I will quote Scripture and even, when relevant, go back to the original Greek or Hebrew. Rather than agreeing with me because of my eloquence or logic, it is better if my reader follows the Berean model “… in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:11 (portion)
Additional source links for this post:
Fellowship of the mind blog post: http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2014/06/29/a-transsexual-regrets-his-gender-reassignment-surgery/
The second site it appeared on (a repost of the above post): http://www.dcclothesline.com/2014/06/30/transsexual-regrets-gender-reassignment-surgery/
Walt’s story (summary) on his website: https://sites.google.com/site/tradingmysorrowsbook/the-book
Walt’s post of 6/10/2007: http://web.archive.org/web/20070612100715/http://blog.tradingmysorrows.com/
Walt’s response to Trans Christians regarding what he wanted the Trans Christian website, as annotated by the author of Trans Christians: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T2latklLo4UFOxM6lWKAssy-S1F-58qO5lAXiAmbXwA/preview