‘I started my transgender journey as a four-year-old boy when my grandmother repeatedly, over several years, cross-dressed me in a full-length purple dress she made especially for me and told me how pretty I was as a girl,’ Heyer wrote.
‘That dress set in motion a life filled with gender dysphoria, sexual abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, and finally, an unnecessary gender reassignment surgery. My life was ripped apart by a trusted adult who enjoyed dressing me as a girl.’
Heyer cited scientific studies that suggest that many people who want to live as the opposite sex have other psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety.
‘I thought my secret was safe, but my teenage uncle heard about it and felt I was fair game for taunting and sexual abuse. I wasn’t even 10 years old. If not for the purple dress, I believe I would not have been abused by my uncle,’ Heyer wrote.
He told the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute that ‘Uncle Fred’ teased him, pulled his pants down, and once drove him down a dirt road alone before trying to take his clothes off.
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‘That abuse caused me to not want to be male any longer. Cross-dressing gave me an escape. I lay awake at night, secretly begging God to change me into a girl. In my childlike thinking, if I could only be a girl, then I would be accepted and affirmed by the adults in my life. I would be safe.’
Heyer said the abuse led to his gender dysphoria, which is about identity and does not affect sexual orientation. He said he was never gay and was only interested in dating girls – but continued cross-dressing to satisfy an urge that would not relent.
By the time Heyer was 40, he said he could not take the stress of living two separate lives. He met with a top gender specialist, who diagnosed him with gender dysphoria, and began taking female hormones.
‘At first, I was giddy with excitement. It seemed like a fresh start. I could sever ties with my former life as Walt and my painful past. But reality soon hit. My children and former wife were devastated. When I told my employer, my career was over.’
‘Hidden underneath the makeup and female clothing was the little boy hurt by childhood trauma. I was once again experiencing gender dysphoria, but this time I felt like a male inside a body refashioned to look like a woman. I was living my dream, but still I was deeply suicidal,’ he said.
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‘Eight years seemed like an awfully long time to me. Nothing made sense. Why hadn’t the recommended hormones and surgery worked? Why was I still distressed about my gender identity? Why wasn’t I happy being Laura?’
Heyer decided that he had to heal on a psychological level – which he failed to do by trying to address his trauma by making physical changes.
When he was 50, he had his breast implants removed. By the time he was 55, he said he no longer had a desire to live as a woman and changed his birth certificate and other legal documents back to ‘Walt.’
Walt Heyer has transitioned back into a man and telling his story so people may not make the same mistakes (Picture: Walt Heyer)
‘I still have scars on my chest, reminders of the gender detour that cost me 13 years of my life. I am on a hormone regimen to try to regulate a system that is permanently altered,’ he said.
‘Had I not been misled by media stories of sex change “success” and by medical practitioners who said transitioning was the answer to my problems, I wouldn’t have suffered as I have,’ he said.
‘You will hear the media say, “Regret is rare.” But they are not reading my inbox, which is full of messages from transgender individuals who want the life and body back that was taken from them by cross-sex hormones, surgery and living under a new identity. After de-transitioning, I know the truth: Hormones and surgery may alter appearances, but nothing changes the immutable fact of your sex.’
Walt Heyer is now running a website called sexchangeregret.com to talk about his story and other like it.