‘They’re Not Fine’: Why Surgery Doesn’t Help People With Gender Dysphoria
Walt Heyer talked with The Stream about why promoting transgenderism is "incredibly destructive."
“I am literally a boy with the wrong body parts.” That’s what Bennett Wallace, formerly Rachael, says in a documentary that aired on PBS Monday.
“Real Boy follows the journey of trans teen Bennett as he navigates adolescence, sobriety, and the physical and emotional ramifications of his changing gender identity,” a synopsis explains.
But author and speaker Walt Heyer issued a warning about the “false hope” in changing genders. That’s because people with gender dysphoria usually have deeper issues. Heyer is a man who formerly identified as a transgender woman.
“We are doing enormous harm to our younger population,” he told The Stream.
The 40 Percent Suicide Rate — And What it Reveals
Forty percent of people who identify as transgender attempt suicide, Heyer said. Over 60 percent of transgender people have comorbid disorders. That means they have more than one disorder. Often they go undiagnosed. Instead, people with gender dysphoria are told to take hormones and get surgery.
Their “disorders [are] not being properly treated,” Heyer said. “They’re not fine.”
Could the transgender suicide rate result from bullying? Heyer called that argument a “red herring.”
Over 60 percent of transgender people have comorbid disorders.
“I lived this life for eight years,” he said. “The people do not suffer the amount of abuse that the LGBT promotes as being the reason for suicide.” He admitted that some people attempt suicide as a result of “society.” But not 40 percent.
“Psychologically healthy people don’t attempt suicide,” he said. He noted that Suicide.org lists untreated mental disorders as the cause of most suicides. Ninety percent, to be exact. Combined with the 60 percent comorbid disorder statistic among transgender people, it makes sense that the transgender suicide rate is linked to mental illness.
It’s “abusive” to depict transitioning as something “wholesome and healthy,” he said.
The high transgender suicide rate was first reported in 1979, Heyer said. Endocrinologist Charles Ihlenfeld spent six years giving hormone treatment to over 500 people who identified as transgender. What he discovered troubled him.
“There is too much unhappiness among people who have the surgery,” he said. “Too many of them end as suicides.” With sex-change surgeries, “we are trying to treat superficially something that is much deeper.” Ihlenfeld later became a psychiatrist.
For Public Discourse in 2016, Heyer relayed his conversation with Dr. Paul McHugh. In the 1970s at Johns Hopkins University, McHugh oversaw a study of people who had sex-change surgery. In 2004 he claimed they “were little changed in their psychological condition.” Heyer asked him in 2015 to ask if anything had changed. McHugh said “he has yet to see a medical justification” for the surgery.
“Transgender people are the one population allowed to diagnose themselves … solely on the basis of their desire,” Heyer wrote. There is no “objective proof” that sex-changes are “medically required.”
What They Need
So what’s the answer for people who feel their body does not reflect their gender? Heyer told The Stream they need “proper and effective, sound psychotherapy.” And not from someone who will pressure them into transitioning.
A prolific speaker and writer on transgender issues, Heyer interacts with many young people like Wallace in Real Boy. He spends significant time asking about the onset of their gender dysphoria. “Sometimes they’re unwilling for a long period of time to open up,” he said.
But when they do, “100 percent” identify a point when they began to feel they were born in the wrong body. Often they have a history of being sexually, physically or otherwise abused. Such trauma can trigger gender dysphoria. If the trauma happened early, people may mistakenly believe they were born with transgender feelings, Heyer said.
Therapy that addresses early life trauma can reverse those feelings. Last September, Heyer shared one such testimony from “Dave.” After Dave’s transition to female, he sought therapy for “childhood trauma issues.”
“My depression and anxiety began to wane,” Dave wrote. “But so did my transgender feelings.” Now, Dave wants to live as a man again.
Heyer’s own experience is similar. After childhood trauma was addressed through therapy, he wanted to return to his birth gender.
“The comorbid disorders are factual disabilities that are not being addressed,” Heyer said. “We’re just giving them hormone therapy and changing their gender.”
The Regret Cycle
Pro-transgender media highlight only those who claim to be happy with their transition. The problem? “The regret cycle doesn’t appear until somewhere between eight and 15 years” later, Heyer said.
Documentaries that follow someone only a few years post-transition don’t capture the full picture, he continued. Instead, they should check in 20 years post-transition. “That’s where the truth is.”
“It’s painful for me to see them hurting so badly and totally unnecessarily.”
One documentary released earlier this month does just that. TranZformed, a film by Pure Passion Media, features 15 people who have detransitioned. Heyer is one of them.
In addition to tracking long-term results, documentaries with multiple people are more realistic than films like Real Boy, which show a single experience, Heyer told The Stream.
Happy feelings one might gain after transitioning are merely a “reprieve,” Heyer said. The reprieve is something Ihlenfeld also acknowledged. Ihlenfeld eventually concluded that “80 percent who want to change their sex shouldn’t do it.” As for the 20 percent that should? He thought it would buy “maybe 10 or 15 years of a happier life.”
Lasting Pain, But No Accountability
Documentaries like Real Boy are “not in any way, shape or form … helping resolve the deeper psychological and psychiatric comorbid disorders,” Heyer said. “It’s for that reason that the suicides have remained high since Day 1.”
Doctors who recognize these problems are largely ignored. Others are restricted thanks to laws preventing licensed therapists from helping people overcome gender dysphoria. Meanwhile, more doctors continue to perform drastic surgeries despite high suicide risks. As Heyer wrote last September:
When their products fail, auto companies are compelled to issue recalls and to pay for the repairs. Not so with the surgeons or psychologists who have popularized and enabled gender transitioning. They escape all consequences, while ex-transgender people are left to foot the bill financially, emotionally, physically, and personally.
“It’s painful for me to see them hurting so badly and totally unnecessarily,” Heyer told The Stream. “It’s barbaric.”
There are constantly new examples of mainstream media ignoring this dangerous side of transgenderism. Please see Tom Gilson’s new companion piece on how Katie Couric’s recent documentary Gender Revolution earned her a “Ph.D. in Propaganda.” You can read it here.