Walt Heyer - Father of the Movement
Written by Hudson Crozier
Born in October 1940, 4-year-old Walt Heyer became confused about his gender as his grandmother dressed him like a girl for several years. Before he was ten years old, his teenage uncle had bullied and sexually abused him for it.
Growing older, Heyer began to see cross-dressing and feminine behavior as methods of escaping from his damaged life's reality. The temptation grew over time, complicating his marriage until his wife divorced him. At age 40, he saw a "gender specialist" who convinced him to undergo a sex change. “He told me that the childhood events were not related to my current gender distress, and that sex change was the only solution,” Heyer wrote in a column for USA Today.
Heyer received cross-sex hormone treatment, genital surgery, implants, and other procedures, identifying as "Laura" for eight years. During that time, he continued to struggle with his sense of identity, abusing alcohol, drugs, and growing suicidal. His gender specialist told him to "give it more time."
Unable to evade his underlying issues any longer, Heyer sought help, converted to Christianity, and slowly turned his life around. Eventually, he had the transgender treatments reversed. Some effects, like the loss of his genitals, were irreversible.
For years since, Heyer has dedicated his life to writing books and articles, public speaking, a ministry, and a website to raise awareness of sex-change regret. He believes that the transgender movement is misguided and sometimes manipulative, neglecting those in need of true help by endorsing an identity that can never be real, throwing them into denial and confusion.
"A key element to healing is working through the delusion that changing genders is possible," he has argued. "It gets much easier to recover when you acknowledge that surgery cannot perform a gender change, nothing can. You are as God made you to be. Live it, love it, and celebrate it."
His views are met with hostility by left-wing sources like Media Matters, which deemed him "a source of extreme transphobic commentary." To suppress his ideas, YouTube removed a video of him speaking about gender dysphoria according to its "hate speech" guidelines. Still, his efforts have made a personal impact on countless transition survivors.
Helena Kerschner - Activist for Gen Z
Now that progressive beliefs on gender have evolved far beyond the fringes of society, newer, more complex stories have emerged. When Helena Kerschner was a teenager, she struggled with common insecurities like loneliness, feelings of isolation, and negative body image.
When she was 15, social media brought her to different chats and online communities where she endured peer pressure to embrace radical progressive politics. During a long period of social indoctrination, she was told constantly by friends that many of her insecurities were signs of a suppressed gender identity, leading her to eventually identify as a trans boy. When her mother wouldn't accept it, she confided in her school's guidance counselor and psychiatrist, who affirmed her decision and helped her find access to hormone treatment without her parents' knowledge, which she would begin once she turned 18. In the meantime, her school helped her confront her mother over her rejection of Helena's trans persona, which failed to improve their relationship.
When Kerschner began hormone therapy at 18, she said that the process of getting approved for her "care" was practically effortless; doctors made no significant inquiry about her mental health or motivations to become trans and began giving her the highest dose of testosterone she could ask for (100 milligrams). The injections gave her angry, violent tendencies and overwhelming aggression that often drove her to self-harm, resulting in multiple hospital visits. Hospitals repeatedly dismissed the testosterone as a cause for her instability, diagnosing her with various mental health problems and sending her on her way. Only when she decided to cut back on doses did her mental state improve, and living as a boy began to feel less and less real.
"As a teenager, I was kind of promised, you know, like, 'This is going to save your life. This is going to make you feel authentic. This is going to make you your true self. This is going to make you so happy…'' she once said in an interview. ''That's not what happened to me.''
Now detransitioned and in her 20s, Kerschner writes scathingly about the medical establishment’s role in setting countless other young people down similar paths. However, she feels that the bulk of her story consists of social factors.
''I don't think I would have ever even considered seeing myself as a boy without the social aspects,'' she said at a speaking event, ''especially if I hadn't joined these online communities, specifically because there wasn't anything at the time, really in my school or in my community, that was influencing me.''
While Kerschner feels fortunate to have no noticeable bodily effects, her family relationships were damaged by the choices she made during her time pursuing a trans identity. Additionally, those who had once encouraged the questioning of her gender were later unsupportive, dismissing her situation as the consequence of her own choices and taking little responsibility for their influence. Nevertheless, she persists in her public campaign addressing the effects of transgender ideology on impressionable minors.
Kerschner is affiliated with multiple websites, including Genspect, a source for parents with gender-confused children. Gender dysphoria, she argues, must be treated like a mental health issue, and children shouldn't be encouraged to try changing their bodies in response to it.
A Growing Conversation
Because statistical data regarding patients of "gender-affirming care" is often inconclusive, the average rate of those who detransition is uncertain. Data currently available, however, indicates a larger trend than what is reported by some left-wing sources.
A 2004 study compiling the results of 100 other studies found that 20 percent of sex-change surgery patients regretted it. Regret for these surgeries seems to be more common among biological men who try to become women, according to later data. A 2021 study found that 55 percent of detransitioners blame healthcare professionals for not adequately evaluating their need for various treatments or informing them of their effects.
The number of detransitioners who make the effort to voice their perspectives is large enough that the movement maintains a substantial presence in the public square. On Mar. 12th, Genspect hosted ''Detrans Awareness Day'' on Twitter, where users posted photos and descriptions of personal detransition stories. Activist groups that consider themselves advocates of detransitioners exist in multiple countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada.
As far as backgrounds, lifestyles, and personal beliefs, detransitioners are a diverse group. They make appearances on both right-wing and left-wing media. Some end up adopting conservative views, some are actively gay or bisexual. Not all take an adversarial stance against the trans movement or even disagree with trans ideology; some say they only want to promote an equally affirming culture for detransitioners.