- Protect My Innocence
‘I Destroyed a Family’: Walt Tells How He Had Surgery to Be Laura, Then Detransitioned After Regret
Posted from Epoch Times. You can find the original article here. Or read below.
“I regret what I did because it was so selfish,” Walt Heyer, 82, told The Epoch Times. “I destroyed my career, I destroyed a family with a wonderful wife and two wonderful children, because no one would speak up and talk about the fact that you can’t change your gender.”
Born in California, Heyer, an author and advocate now living on the east coast, said he suffered trauma as a child. In adulthood, he underwent gender reassignment surgery and lived for eight years as a trans woman, before detransitioning in 1991.
Citing immense regret for choosing transition in response to trauma, Heyer now runs the website sexchangeregret.com to help steer others away from irreversible surgery or life choices toward therapeutic solutions.
“I wanted to be the voice that people could listen to, and the voice that would stop them going through a totally unnecessary hormonal, surgical change that could destroy their life,” he said.
A Secret Life, and Under the Knife
Heyer recalled being beaten and molested at a very young age by family members, fueling trauma that led him to, at age 13, secretly identify as “Christal West.” In adulthood, that female alter-ego found expression in clubs and bars in San Francisco and San Diego. Meanwhile, he led a double life during the day with a good job and a family.
Although he was married and had two children, Heyer’s secret life persisted under cover of darkness. “You can shave the mustache off. It grew back fast, it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “That was just part of the cover up.”
In 1981, he was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by psychologist Dr. Paul Walker and started taking female hormones. In the summer of 1981, he met Dr. Stanley Beiber, who, by the end of his career, would perform 5,000 sexual reassignment surgeries.
Two years later, in April 1983, Heyer went under the knife in Trinidad, Colorado.
“They don’t cut the penis off, they just use the penis, reverse it, and turn it inward,” he said. “Nobody ever talks about consequences. The consequences are horrible. They can never have children.”
Although Heyer already had children, his choice to undergo surgery had serious ramifications. He got divorced and almost immediately lost his coveted career as an associate design engineer working in cryogenics for the Apollo space missions, he said. He became “unemployable,” and since Oct. 25, 1983, Heyer never had another real career again.
“I was there for myself, doing my thing, instead of being a father to my children,” he said. “I abandoned them for my own purposes, that’s why I call it ‘sex change regret,’ because I regret the harm that I did to the people around me whom I love very much.
“Surgery fixed nothing except destroy my career. I was homeless for a while. I became an alcoholic and a drug addict. … I bounced around and did a lot of things to survive. I went from having a great income to being broke.”
Redeemed and Restored … Almost
A lot has changed in the last 40 years of Heyer’s life. Maybe not enough.
“I was able to stay in a recovery center normally costing $4,000 a month for free,” he said. “I started going to meetings. … I decided that I would start going to church. … I was ‘Laura Jensen.’ It was a women’s recovery center, and I was going to church as Laura.”
In 1986 Heyer found a state-sponsored room in an addiction treatment program at Alcohol Drug Recovery Center in San Francisco.
Now he says his diagnosis of gender dysphoria was totally out of line. That trauma—the physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child—was not treated the way an “appropriate caregiver” would have done. He needed a trauma therapist, not a surgeon.
From his sponsor, Heyer, then 50, found a place to stay after leaving the center. But, with so many bridges burned, he had few places to turn besides faith. That would open up a pivotal new lane leading to a place of soulful redemption, if not a physical one.
A prayer session with his assigned psychologist at the time led to an unexpected, almost supernatural vision.
“I could see the Lord looking down. … The Lord was coming for me, but not coming for me at 50 years old,” he said. “He was coming to me from my childhood that was so broken. He redeemed me at that point, and said, ‘You’ll be safe with me forever.’
“I just needed to take responsibility for my life and not blame others for what had happened to me. … The prayer was just profound,” Heyer said, who by now was identifying as “Walt” again.
He knew he had made a mistake, but also that he had been forgiven.
“I was redeemed and restored back to who I was. I also realized that I was never ‘Laura Jensen,’” he said. “No one in the history of mankind has ever changed their gender. It’s never been done. It’s not scientifically, medically, surgically, hormonally … it’s just not possible. I stopped living the masquerade and realized that I got my life back.
“I was one of the fortunate ones.”
“People Are Being Duped”
Now totally sober, Heyer sought to reclaim his life. He underwent painful reversal surgery, admitting “there’s only so much you can do,” and floundered in various jobs—selling cars and working as a barista. Eventually, he realized he needed to chart a new course and attended college to study counseling. He became director of care ministries for a church, where he continues after three and a half years.
Today, he worries about the “social contagion” that younger generations face, and the fact that gender dysphoria has been promoted and propagated to dangerous degrees in society. Students are indoctrinated in schools, and, bolstered by certain official narratives, even some parents feel compelled to facilitate changing their child’s gender on their behalf.
“Better to have a living son than a dead daughter,” so goes the maniacal aphorism.
“No child on this earth should undergo surgical procedures to remove any parts of their body,” said Heyer. “These children’s brains aren’t fully developed until they’re 24 or 25. Why are we intervening?
“You don’t have to look too far to see that people are being duped into this, the people who are getting hormones and having the surgical procedures. … Any time you’re using children to destroy the next generation, we have to step back and take a deep breath and look at who’s doing it.”
There are anti-religious, anti-family, and anti-male ideologies driving this agenda to dissolve gender identity, he said, adding, “Marxism talks about just wanting ‘workers,’ they don’t want ‘male’ and ‘female.’ … If you can destroy this terminology, then you begin to destroy the very fabric of our society.”
Avoid Hormones, Avoid Surgery
More realistically, traumatized children should undergo talking therapy or EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), a form of psychotherapy, Heyer recommends.
“I’m asking people to be treated for the traumatic event that caused them to have generalized dysphoria,” he said. “When I do speak with those people, and they do get treatment for generalized dysphoria, they tell me that they are able to avoid hormones, able to avoid surgery. … Their bodies aren’t altered, and they don’t have to live with the consequences of surgical procedures.”
Now remarried, Heyer continues his advocacy and has spoken at various conferences and events globally. In 2010, when sexchangeregret.com was launched, they attracted a miniscule 700 hits. By 2015, that number had increased to 356,000.
“I realized there’s a tremendous appetite for somebody to be out there that has a safe place for people to go, to talk about their regret,” he said. “We’re able to help a lot of people. Some of them we can’t, but the ones that we can help, we do. It’s been very rewarding.”
Heyer is troubled by the stories that people write him via the website but hopes that his story and outreach will help prevent others from making irreversible decisions such as surgery.
“It really grabs me how much money is being filtered in to the left for this insanity,” he added. “I just hope that people begin to realize how much harm they’re doing. … It destroys people’s lives.
“There’s just not enough people standing up saying, ‘Do not do this.’”