The contrivance we call a straw man is a logical fallacy. In this case it is an opponent claiming to have refuted an argument that was never made in the first place. Last week, Walt Heyer — the neurotic ex-trans crusader — wrote ‘Sex Change’ Isn’t Surgically Possible, My Surgeon Testified in Court.
The problem with this argument is that no one — no one — claims that it is possible to change one’s sex. Chromosomes are an immutable reality.
The intent of transition is to help people present as their gender to the fullest extent possible. The mental health of most transgender people is related to their level of confidence in their presentation.
The point of Heyer’s sophomoric polemic — like all of his gibberish — is to convince people that transitioning is bad because people will come to regret the process. The psychiatrists, urologists, surgeons and psychologists in my network (most of whom are with prominent research universities) uniformly disagree.
Some people do desist. Most desisters do so because of family pressure.
The regret that they have is not associated with having transitioned. Any regrets are due to the intolerance of family and friends.
With acceptance, transgender people do very well, particularly adolescents. Rejection carries with it, adverse mental health consequences. Walt Heyer is a purveyor of rejection.
Mr. Heyer is incapable of writing a paragraph free of BS:
Many people wonder why I’m so outspoken about the madness of prescribing cross-sex hormones and genital mutilation surgery for patients who suffer from the desire to be the opposite sex, known clinically as gender dysphoria.
Why? It is how Heyer gets attention and how he makes a living. Heyer does this to obtain some relevance and to sell some books. I am sure that they are page burners. Heyer is probably trying to justify some of his own decisions, blaming everyone else for his various neuroses.
Just because Heyer got religion and became conflicted does not license him to characterize hormones and gender confirmation surgery as “madness.” Mr. Heyer does not have the necessary knowledge to call gender confirmation surgery a form of mutilation. Just because things did not work out for Heyer does not mean that he possesses any special knowledge.
In fact, Walt Heyer is irrelevant. Heyer had surgery nearly four decades ago in middle age. Today the surgery requires two psychological referrals and at least one year of Real Life Experience (living as one’s gender).
Heyer claims that his surgeon was Dr. Stanley Biber. Dr. Biber was a renowned physician who made Trinidad, Colorado the place to go.
The late Dr. Biber was a founding member of what became WPATH. He would have closely followed the standards. I am reliably informed that the standards when Heyer had surgery were much more restrictive and absolute. They required patients to have a flawless opposite-sex presentation and to be an avowed heterosexual.
Over many years Walt Heyer has said, in many ways, that others made mistakes and that he never should have had the surgery. He seems to forget that he must have tried very hard to qualify.
No Change of Sex Occurs
The court document from July 25, 1990, states that I meet the medical criteria for the male sex, even after a full-blown sex change. Men do not become women through surgery or hormones.
Paragraph 5 of the document reads:This Patient, by the criteria established by John Money, Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is indeed now considered a male. We plead that the court will reestablish this man’s legal identity as male. …
What is the point of this drivel? Transition interventions allow people to align their presentation with their gender. Perhaps that was unclear 30 years ago. It is perfectly clear today among clinicians and their patients.
In retrospect, it’s a game-changing bombshell. The renowned gender experts testified that even when a person undergoes sex-change surgery and takes cross-gender hormones for many years, genetic sex and internal morphology do not change.
Transgender identity doesn’t exist except in one’s imagination.
Eureka! Chromosomes do not change! A “bombshell” indeed. Ka-BOOM!
“Imagination?” Imagination means ideas, images or concepts that are formed without sensory evidence. Gender identity is not imaginary. It is a very clear and compelling sense of who we are. It is a perception which is the ability to become aware of something through the senses. Perception is, in a way, the opposite of imagination.
Furthermore, post-mortem examinations reveal opposite-sex brain structures in transgender people. The Endocrine Society claims that gender dysphoria has biological basis, at least in part.
So What Does Change?
[Quotes are from the previously mentioned court document]
- “Gonadal Sex [is] Neuter.” The male reproductive organs are refashioned surgically into a pseudo-vagina and the ability to provide sperm is destroyed.
- “Hormonal Sex [is] Neuter.” The ability to produce testosterone is destroyed.
- “External Morphology [is] Mixed.” Outward appearance of the male body is a mix of male and female. Cosmetic procedures and hormones have a feminizing effect on appearance, but many male traits remain, such as hand size, foot size, and physical strength.
Heyer is referring exclusively to trans females. There is evidence that puberty blockers diminish size (including hand and foot size) as well as altering voice pitch, causing female muscular development, preventing beard growth and diminishing body hair. Physical strength is closely associated with testosterone production.
Heyer probably misstates the facts about muscle mass and strength because he wants to be consistent with his ilk heaping shame upon trans high school girls in athletic competitions. (See below.)
I ask, again, what is the point of this diatribe?
Transgender Women in Sports
Men who claim to be women and then intrude in women’s sports competitions because men’s sports are too difficult for them are only socially pretending to be women.
Their muscle mass, physical strength, and internal bone structure remain even if their testosterone levels later drop—all determined at puberty by the flood of testosterone.
What this idiot is suggesting is that boys are pretending to be transgender girls for athletic advantage. That is not remotely believable.
Puberty blockers reduce testosterone. There is an easy solution to this dilemma but the Christian conservatives do not want to solve the problem. They want the problem to persist as a vehicle for transphobia.
Sports physicians could come up with a formula based on medications, their dosage, when they started and for how long they have been administered. Nothing will satisfy those who have a problem based on their belief that the very existence of transgender people creates a contradiction with scripture. Biblical literalists do not have the capacity for pragmatism.
This Explains the Unhappiness
This court document also helps explain the explosion of reported unhappiness, regret, and detransition stories emerging from the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.
Some of the regretters after changing gender tell me they feel like they are in “gender hell” or that “it was the biggest mistake of my life.”
First of all, Heyer’s “explosion” does not exist. Heyer doesn’t communicate with people who obtained relief by transitioning. Mr. Heyer is burdened with severe confirmation bias. He isn’t even aware of competing information let alone expected to consider it.
My network is not reporting a flood of desistence.
Mr. Heyer, on the other hand, has an agenda. It requires him to harm gender-diverse people for relevance, self-validation and conformity with religious dogma. None of those motives have anything to do with the best interests of anyone other than Walt Heyer.
As a matter of common sense, no transgender person believes that they can change their sex. Did Mr. Heyer? Therefore, the realization of something that they have known all along cannot possibly cause regret.
Heyer is intent on projecting the false notion that people can choose not to be transgender. Gender dysphoria can cause immense discomfort. Untreated it can lead to self-harm. The only means of mitigating the distress is gender affirmation. No one volunteers to be an object of ridicule.
This is in complete contrast to the health of trans youth who are not permitted to transition. Those kids have significant rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. They are in distress and they are suffering. Walt Heyer wants them to suffer for personal reasons and religion.
Suffering doesn’t seem to present much in the way of choice. Walt Heyer needs to stop projecting his neuroses on everyone else. Heyer is creating bigotry to satisfy personal needs.
I detransitioned 30 years ago, in 1990, and have written many articles and books to shine a light on the harm this grand experiment has caused for so many people: suicides and attempted suicides, fractured marriages, deserted children.
Suicides? See the two peer-reviewed articles cited above. Walt Heyer writes books to make money and for self-validation. He is not out to help anyone. Heyer offers his spew exclusively at conservative Christian outlets. There is a reason for that.
The quoted paragraph, above, is almost identical to the “ex-gay” bullshit promoted by religious crackpots. It seems that every ex-gay we come to know has an economic incentive to claim to be ex-gay.
There are very few ex-trans whack jobs. Like the ex-gay evangelists, they have a religious rationale and they are out to make a buck off of their personality disorder. Walt Heyer cannot get on with his life. Nevertheless, he should not make his problems everyone else’s problems.
My best guess is that Heyer was determined to qualify for surgery. To do so he was dishonest with his behavioral health clinicians. The first words out of Heyer’s mouth should be about honesty with the people trying to help others.
To do so, Heyer would have to accept responsibility for his misadventures in gender confirmation. Heyer is incapable of doing so. He has come to believe the religious nutters who massage his ego for their needs.