Before he turned 10, his grandmother began to dress him in a purple chiffon dress and fawn over how cute he looked. Over time, as he started wearing it more frequently, the dress became a dark secret. When his father’s much younger adopted brother discovered the secret of the dress, he first teased the boy and then began to sexually molest him.
The boy grew up burdened by these traumas until he decided, at the age of 42, that he really—deep down in his core being—was a woman. So he had radical gender reassignment, and took the name of Laura Jensen. But that fateful decision didn’t bring him peace but confusion and depression, a suicide attempt, and excessive drinking.
After eight years as Laura, he’d had enough. He changed his mind, and reverted to his true identity. He is now a married man, a committed Christian, and very much a male.
His name is Walt Heyer (rhymes with higher) and he now helps people with gender confusion issues and the emotional fallout from the mutilation of the gender reassignment procedure. Walt agreed to tell his story on Catholic Answers Focus podcast.
Walter’s tale is part spiritual confession and part cautionary tale for Bruce Jenner and others who are tempted to undergo the radical, life-altering operation that, in the end, does not actually change your gender, only some physical and hormonal elements of your body. We salute Walt’s courage and his willingness to help suffering souls find out their true identity as sons and daughters of a loving Father. His website is www.sexchangeregret.com. Below is an abridged version of the Catholic Answers Focus interview occurring on May 29, 2015.
PC: Walt, welcome to Catholic Answers Focus. Good to have you.
WH: Yeah, thanks for having me on today.
PC: One side of the transgendered story that you don’t hear often are the ones that are regretted and regretted quickly. Was that the case with you?
WH: No, in my case, I was out there for eight years. I’ve heard reports of people regretting it after three weeks, but I’ve also heard of those who took thirty years to admit they regretted it. Because it’s such an enormous change, people don’t want to admit it. Not an easy thing to do. And when you do go back to a therapist who’s an advocate for sex change, you hear, “You look fine, just give it time,” and so on. A lot of them are just so thoroughly broken by the destruction of changing genders, that rehabilitation is very, very difficult. And there are a lot of things that are difficult to restore, and the pain and agony that people had that caused the desire to change genders is still there—and now they’ve compiled even a larger issue to deal with. So it’s a double whammy.
PC: In your case, it was your grandmother who dressed you in this purple chiffon dress and so on. Was that dress ritual the first domino in your desire to go from boy to girl?
WH: Yeah, when a young person of that age has someone fawning over them, they love it. In my case, the boy was not getting that, and I really wanted someone to love on me, and what better way to get love than to be fawned over. Adults need to recognize that kids who may want to change their gender don’t necessary want that—they want to be loved.
PC: So you took the dress home so you could wear it in secret and had a series of painful episodes with your father’s younger adopted brother, whom you called Uncle Fred. What happened there?
WH: Well, it became a kind of whispering behind the scenes thing, and Uncle Fred thought it would be a good idea to tease me about wearing the dress, and then began molest me and that escalated over the next three years. You feel powerless and demoralized; first my grandmother who started it with the dress but then another adult who made it worse. So the psyche is taking some pretty big hits and there is not any real appropriate way for a young person to deal with all of this.
PC: This happened when you were nine or ten?
PC: And you went to a gender psychologist to be evaluated. Were you quickly assured that the panacea here would be to go from male to female and live a new identity or were you cautioned against that?
WH: (laughs) You know, that’s pretty funny because there is never any caution. There is such an advocate role by anyone who is a “gender specialist” who will just accept any crossdressing as a sign that gender change is necessary. These clinicians don’t take the time to ask what happened in early childhood that led the person to not want to be who they really are.