‘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."

This video screen grab shows Bennett Wallace, formerly Rachael, in a trailer for Real Boy, a documentary that aired on PBS Monday, June 19, 2017.

By Liberty McArtor Published on June 22, 2017

“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.

Dissenting Doctors

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.

“The comorbid disorders are factual disabilities that are not being addressed. We’re just giving them hormone therapy and changing their gender.”

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

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.

    I don’t know if you have made the acquaintance of anyone who is transgender, but I have. Recently, one of my “M2F” transgender friends posted the following to her Facebook page, on the first anniversary of her gender reassignment surgery. I have taken the liberty of censoring some of the language:

    One year ago today, I woke up the same way I had every single morning of every single day that had preceded that morning. I woke up with a penis.

    By the end of that day, however, my penis was forever gone.

    In its place was the vagina I always knew I should have had.

    That day – the day that I had always previously believed impossible – is now firmly rooted in my past.

    Remembering back on my excitement, and how completely fixed and whole I felt afterwards, I cannot help but smile in fondness over those memories.

    Even though my new normal isn’t so new anymore, even though it’s basically just how it is now, it’s an incredibly comfortable, validating feeling to know that my body is now 100% congruent with my being.

    Sure, just like so many others within the trans community, life is far from perfect. Far too many members of my own family haven’t talked to me or acknowledged my existence coming up on three years now since I came out, employers haven’t given me a chance, the professional community I existed in before has basically turned its back to me, and an uncomfortably large percentage of the world still thinks I am an abomination of god or some stupid, ignorant s___ like that.

    But whatever.

    Because as unnecessarily hard as the naysayers and haters have made and continue to make my life and the lives of those like me, they can all go f___ themselves.

    The thing is, even though they have yet to admit it to themselves, they lost the battle against me.

    Instead, I won the battle, and I won it decisively.

    My trophy is that I now have what they can never take from me – I have ME. And it’s an amazing feeling, despite the continuing hardships the naysayers continue to pile on.

    Regardless, though, if one cannot be real, if one cannot be authentic, or if one cannot be who they are supposed to be, then what’s the point of life to begin with?

    I mean, life is supposed to be real, right? We are supposed to actually *live* our lives, right? At least, for whatever it’s worth, that’s the way I see it. Although, admittedly, it did take me about four decades to figure that part out, but better late than never, right?

    So make absolutely no mistake about it at all, transition thoroughly and completely cured my gender dysphoria. More than that, transition saved my life.

    Transition has given me a quality of life that I simply did not believe was even possible.

    Transition changed the whole godd___ed ball game for me.

    That I have done this, I no longer hate myself or feel wrong in my own skin. I instead love myself, and I *feel* right in a way that I never thought could be possible before.

    To be sure about things, having transitioned is second only to becoming a parent as the single best thing I have ever done for myself in life.

    In this regard, to those who deny the medical and scientific efficacy of transition as a viable treatment for severe gender dysphoria, those bastards have no f___ing clue whatsoever about what they’re talking about.

    Whether a god or random genetics or mutant DNA or an alien abducted me and implanted crazy s___ in my brain, I couldn’t care less at this point. Because all I know is that I’m now real, that I’m now cured, that I’m now who I’m supposed to be, and that there ain’t nothing no one can do to take any of that away from me anymore.

    And that’s a pretty damn cool and liberating feeling, let me tell ya.

    Still, it’s kinda hard to believe that a whole year has passed since my SRS.
    Sometimes you just gotta absolutely love the complete and total f___ out of life.

    I am passing on this declaration for the sake of perspective. I imagine some will simply dismiss it, saying, “This person is just sick sick sick!”

    I am hoping others will offer a more thoughtful and diplomatic response.

    • Liberty McArtor

      Dear Chuck,

      Thanks for reading and sharing. I truly wish your friend all the best. Unfortunately however, the struggles and very real mental illnesses felt by many people who identify as transgender are often ignored, even by the medical community and media. This despite the fact that doctors, transgender individuals, and even members of the LGBT community are speaking out. Statistics revealing that 60 percent of transgender individuals struggle with more than one mental disorder, and that 40 percent attempt or commit suicide, must not be ignored. My piece is intended to highlight the other side of the story.

      Hopefully my interview with Mr. Heyer–someone who knows about these issues firsthand–will bring light to those other issues. And hopefully more people will get the help they truly need. That is what we all should hope for.

    • Patmos

      This post doesn’t really reveal much of anything, except the emotional response of someone who very likely is still suffering, and very well may face issues in the future.

      If the LGBT Movement really wants to be taken seriously they need to stop denying the mental health issues in their ranks, and how those issues contribute to their state, and that there are people who overcome those issues to the point that they no longer are LGBT.

      • DCM7

        The LGBT movement can’t stop denying those things, because the denial of those things are part of the very foundation of that movement.

      • m-nj

        And the trans subgroup can’t make too much noise about mental and psychological causes of gender dysphoria, because the broader gay and lesbian subgroups would then also have to acknowledge that homosexuality has similar causes (along with neurochemical and possible congenital development causes).

        and we know at the bottom of all of it is the spiritual sickness that affects us all.

  • Gary

    My perspective is to let “transgenders” do what they want, as long as it does not involve me, my friends, my family, or the laws of the country. If someone wants to make surgical alterations to their sex organs, I am fine with it as long as I don’t have to help pay for it, and as long as it does not affect me in any way. The difficulties “transgenders” have should be expected, and is no concern of mine.

    • Charles Burge

      This is a shockingly callous attitude, and frankly, I think it’s the polar opposite of how Jesus taught us to think. We’re supposed to be salt and light in the world, and that means not being indifferent to people who are suffering.

      • Gary

        It is callous, I admit. That’s what I intended. As for what Jesus taught, you will search the Bible in vain to find ANY support, compassion, or concern for LGBTQ. You are free to waste your life trying to help such people, but I’m not going to.

        • DCM7

          What you *can* find in the Bible is the fact that “gay” people can be changed by Jesus, just like any other sinners (I Cor. 6:9-11). If one’s position regarding LGBTetc people doesn’t take that into account, that position isn’t Biblical.

          • Gary

            There are things that are “possible”, but rarely, if ever, happen. And as far as lgbtq people being changed by Jesus, I don’t believe it ever happens today.

          • Charles Burge

            So in the case of Walt Heyer, mentioned in this article…. you just think he’s lying?

          • Gary

            Either that, or mistaken.

          • Charles Burge

            Check it out for yourself.
            world.wng org/2017/03/walt_s_story

          • Liberty McArtor

            Gary, I didn’t specifically address it in the article, but Mr. Heyer’s testimony of coming to the Lord is incredible. Read the link Charles posted below.

            Jesus can and does change lives — every kind of life — today. He always will. That is who he is and that is why we Christians have given our own lives to him! In fact, if you look at the trailer for the documentary “TranZformed” (linked in the article above), you’ll see a glimpse of 15 people who used to identify as transgender and were saved by Jesus and brought into the loving truth. I was moved just by watching the short trailer and look forward to watching the entire documentary. What powerful stories of God’s grace and freedom!

            Proper therapy is important, because it helps people overcome underlying issues, such as trauma from childhood abuse. It is an important tool that God can use. But only God can truly liberate someone, and praise Him — because he is doing it everyday! As Christians, it is our responsibility to continue reaching out to people who are lost, hurting, and who we may consider “too far gone.” Because no one is too far gone for God.

          • Gary

            My theology is a bit different from yours. I have learned, the hard way, that I cannot believe everyone who claims to be a Christian.

          • DCM7

            I have no doubt that you’ve heard many wrong things from people who claimed to be Christians. Pretty much all of us have. But if your theology says that no “gay” or “trans” person would ever get changed by Christ, then your theology does not line up with the Bible or with present, observable reality.

            Your anger towards the actions of the LGB(etc.) camp is understandable and appropriate. Your insistence that the people involved must be beyond the reach of Christ is not.

          • Gary

            As I have said many times, God can save whoever He wants. But I don’t find any evidence in present, observable reality that He wants to save lgbtq.

          • DCM7

            Most people do reject Christ, and certainly most LGB(etc.) people reject Christ. No argument there.

            But some people accept Christ, and some of those people are LGB(etc.); and their lives get changed just as Christ changes others’ lives.

          • DCM7

            “as far as lgbtq people being changed by Jesus, I don’t believe it ever happens today”

            I know you don’t believe it ever happens, but it does. I’ve known a few genuinely changed “gays” even in my own limited experience. Granted, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, but it does happen far more than you believe.

            One of the biggest, and most widely accepted, lies of the LGB(etc.) camp is that it can’t happen and never happens. There’s no reason anyone should believe this.

          • GPS Daddy

            Yes, Gary, they can and do change. Look up Rosssria Butterfield as one example.

            And by they way, what kind of a commentary on Jesus is that comment? You need to rethink it.

          • Gary

            There are many millions of people alive today who claim to be Christians, but are not.

          • GPS Daddy

            Your not the judge of if someone is a Christian. But what does that have to do with Jesus redeeming someone out of homosexuality?

          • Gary

            I am the judge of who I consider to be a Christian. Homosexuals who claim to be Christians are among the millions who claim to be Christians, but aren’t.

          • GPS Daddy

            Wrong Gary. The ONLY opinion that has any merit is Jesus. There are many homosexuals who will be in heaven. Just because someone is same sex attracted does not mean they are not accepted by Jesus.

            But your avoiding my question. What does that have to do with Jesus redeeming someone out of homosexuality?

          • Gary

            Jesus decides who really is a Christian. I decide who I believe is really a Christian. I strongly disagree with you about homosexuals in Heaven.

            The answer to your question is in my last sentence right above this one.

          • GPS Daddy

            Well, Gary. That is a non-answer. First, there will be no homosexuals heaven, nor theives, nor prostitutes, nor liars, nor (put your favorite sin here). Everyone in heaven is redeemed. Including you, Gary. Maybe you need to think about the sins Jesus has redeemed you from.

            So to my point, I wrote that there are many homosexuals that will be in heaven just like there will be many who are liars who will be in heaven or there will be many who are (insert your favorite sin here) in heaven.

            So your response does not address my question. I’m going to ask it a different way to bring clarity assuming that I have asked it poorly:

            Are you claiming that homosexuals are not redeemable?

          • Gary

            The redeemable are those to whom God grants repentance and faith.

          • GPS Daddy

            Gary, don’t avoid the question. Can a homosexual be redeemed?

          • Gary

            I did. If God grants a homosexual repentance and faith, they can be saved.

          • GPS Daddy

            I see. So can you then expect lain what you meant by:

            “And as far as lgbtq people being changed by Jesus, I don’t believe it ever happens today”?

          • GPS Daddy

            Well, Gary, here are more people who Jesus redeemed out of same-sex attraction and lifestyle:


    • Mo86

      @ Gary

      For adults who don’t want help and are even hostile to anyone telling them the truth (that no one can change their gender), I would agree. It’s tragic, but they are adults.

      When it comes to children, that’s another matter. They are helpless victims here, oftentimes of their own parents. Society must find ways to intervene, just like we do with any other kind of abuse.

      • Gary

        Children belong to their parents, not to society. Their parents can teach them whatever they want. If they teach them wrong, then they must live with the consequences of that.

  • DCM7

    DNA doesn’t lie. There is no such thing as one sex’s mind in the body of the other, or someone changing from one sex to another. There are only people who, for whatever reason, believe they are (or should be) of the other sex.

    Mutilating someone’s body to look superficially like that of the other sex solves nothing. Why is that considered the only option for someone with gender dysphoria? Why is it considered an option at all? There is no good reason; there never has been, and there never will be.

    The only right way to deal with a person with gender dysphoria is to help and encourage them to live as the sex they really are — to address the issue where it really is, in the mind and not in the body. Anything else is a damnable disservice to them.

    We don’t encourage, much less celebrate, other forms of bodily dysphoria — nor should we. And there’s no reason to encourage the form of bodily dysphoria that involves gender either.

  • eddiestardust

    Each day I pray for everyone who is LBGT…I pray that they will leave other folks alone and that they will be converted.

  • Mo86

    This is so sad. The adults pushing this nonsense on children (some even now toddler age!) are guilty of the most heinous child abuse I can imagine. These poor kids are destroying their bodies and minds, often permanently.

    • Therese

      It’s not just adults (parents) pushing this on children. Teachers and counselors in our schools are doing untold damage to adolescents and young adults. I speak as a parent with experience…

How to Love Others Better Than You Do
David Mills
More from The Stream
Connect with Us