“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
—Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)
Back in the spring and early summer of 2015, the waves of the transgender movement rolled ashore as former Olympic track and field gold medalist Bruce Jenner, a 1970s icon of masculinity, introduced the world to his new female persona.
At about the same time, the Supreme Court imposed gay marriage on the nation with the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
It looked like a one-two punch to the gut of the Biblical family model. Gay marriage had been debated by political candidates for several years and eventually found a champion in President Barack Obama. But transgenderism was a bold step into uncharted territory. Americans knew of it, but mostly from a distance.
Jenner, whose heroics in the 1976 Olympic decathlon seemed made for the Wheaties box, told the world he would become “Caitlyn,” explaining that he had been undergoing “sex reassignment” to meet his long-held desire to be a woman.
Reactions were swift and wide-ranging, but Walt Heyer knew some things most other folks couldn’t possibly know.
Heyer’s long, tortured journey to wholeness in Jesus Christ bears testimony to the lie being peddled by social revolutionaries—that one can actually become the opposite sex. He knows all too well that changing genders is simply not possible, regardless of misnomers such as “sex reassignment surgery” and “gender fluidity.” There are no such things.
“It’s totally cosmetic,” says Heyer, who himself went through a series of treatments and surgery to assume the female persona he presented for most of a decade, only to add disillusionment to his lingering alcoholism. “Not one person changes gender, except on paper,” he said.
That reality, Heyer says, is the reason some 41 percent of the transgender population attempts suicide, a figure cited by multiple sources, including Dr. Paul McHugh, former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, which pioneered so-called sex reassignment procedures. McHugh now strongly opposes such treatments as psychologically harmful and has written extensively on that subject.
Heyer told Decision: “Once the ‘change’ is made, the return road is actually one of the most difficult roads imaginable. It takes a ton of faith in Christ and a ton of courage and unwavering commitment to return from such a journey.”
Those harsh realities are not what LGBT activists and the social progressives who enable them are selling, however.
Heyer, now 76, underwent “sex-reassignment” surgery in the early 1980s. In the process, he lost his marriage, alienated his children, and was essentially fired from a lucrative career with Honda—which at the time wasn’t open to such radical changes by public-facing employees.
Like many men who identify as transgender, including Bruce Jenner, Heyer has always been heterosexual; he has never had homosexual inclinations. That may counter the assumptions of most people, but Heyer says his guise as a woman was a non-sexual escape from his identity in the same way a drug addict numbs his pain through substances. The disorder is rarely about sexual arousal. For Heyer, it was about attempting to escape into another reality.
Today, he has a ministry and a website, sexchangeregret.com, geared at helping transgendered people who regret their attempts to transform themselves into the opposite sex and wish to return to their God-given identities. Those who come to him for help are overwhelmingly men and, he says, “98 percent heterosexual.”
His addiction to alcohol, Heyer says, was “like pouring fuel on the fire” of his acting out as female, which several psychiatrists would later pinpoint as dissociative—or multiple personality—disorder. Heyer believes there were several triggers that led to his sinful, downward spiral: His grandmother would playfully dress him up as a little girl when he visited her as a child. Stung by his father’s scorn at several important moments, Heyer began to feel more affirmed in his grandmother’s play dress than in his favorite cowboy outfit. Later, an uncle sexually molested Heyer, further compounding his pain.
He said these traumas created a toxic mix and required years of counseling and Christian discipleship to unpack and work out. But those very treatment approaches are now stigmatized as politically incorrect and clinically off limits.
The American Psychiatric Association made it official in 2013 when it dropped transgenderism from its diagnostic list of mental disorders, similar to its decision to drop homosexuality from the list in 1973.
“The LGBT activists are using this as a sort of Trojan horse to break down gender and sexual boundaries and essentially destroy what God has created,” Heyer said. “They are very anti one-man, one-woman and anti-traditional family. If you can destroy gender, you can destroy the family.”
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, says the aggressive movement toward normalizing transgenderism is the third wave of the sexual revolution; the first being the feminist movement, then the homosexual movement and now the attempt to eradicate gender categories.
“It comes down to an attack on the created order—that we are created male and female,” Sprigg says.
Heyer contends that transgenderism as a policy issue was co-opted by gay activists and progressive sympathizers seeking more strength in numbers.
“The progressives decided that’s a voting bloc they can build and use to help them win elections, and so it’s really more about power,” Heyer said. “And then you have George Soros, who is a heavy contributor to the LGBT. They’re so well-funded that they can do pretty much whatever they want … and they’ve been very successful.”
Case in point: The political pressure placed on North Carolina for passing HB2, widely known as “the bathroom bill.” It sought to preempt, among other things, local governments from passing laws forcing businesses and government offices to allow access to toilets and locker rooms based on gender identity rather than biological sex.
In Charlotte, for example, any fitness club would have been forced to allow a biological male access to a women’s locker room had he identified as female. HB2, in turn, nullified Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance to keep that from happening.
With a Republican majority in both chambers of the North Carolina legislature, HB2 is likely to stand for the foreseeable future. But that hasn’t stopped big corporations such as PayPal from either pulling business out of North Carolina or threatening to do so. Several states have restricted official business travel to the Tar Heel state. The NBA pulled its All-Star Game from Charlotte in retaliation for HB2, and the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference canceled prominent sporting events.
The federal Justice Department, meanwhile, filed suit as Attorney General Loretta Lynch and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory traded volleys over whether HB2 violates sex discrimination rules for public schools under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling next year with direct bearing on that question.
The Family Research Council’s Sprigg says the federal Equality Act, a proposed bill that would have far-ranging negative consequences for Christians and others who believe in traditional sexual ethics, is unlikely to make headway for at least the next two years under a Republican-led Congress. However, President-elect Trump has not explicitly said how he would proceed on LGBT issues, Sprigg said.
“Mr. Trump’s position on LGBT issues has been somewhat ambiguous, shall we say, so I’m not sure that we have any firm commitment from him to veto this bill if it were somehow to be passed by Congress,” Sprigg added.
The political composition of Congress aside, social conservatives must remain vigilant.
Heyer said if the church assumes that the cultural trends are irreversible and if it therefore ceases to contend for truth, “We’d be looking at the end of the foundation of man and woman and family. Period. That’s the ultimate consequence of continuing to allow the scales to tip and to allow people in the pulpit—like some churches do—who are transgender. And then people begin to think it’s OK, that there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Joe Dallas, program director of California-based Genesis Counseling and author of six books on Biblical sexuality, including The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, says the LGBT movement has benefited from “the perfect storm” in the last few decades as the sexual revolution has progressed.
Dallas, who escaped the trap of years of bisexuality through the power of Christ, says many in the LGBT community feel justified in being bold these days because many have been bullied or mistreated. Their mistake, he says, is in believing the logical fallacy that because someone mistreated them, they must also be justified in their sexual and lifestyle choices.
“They are wrong in assuming that mistreatment legitimizes their identity or their behavior,” Dallas says.
Another factor in the success of the LGBT agenda is the need of the public to have a seemingly noble cause to fight for. “We haven’t had something as overtly noble a cause as the Civil Rights Movement for a while now, except for the unborn, and that’s largely a cause taken up by Christians and not by the secular culture at large.”
So, without a a Biblical worldview, the culture sides with LGBT activists and believes it is fighting a righteous cause.
A third reason, says Dallas, is the church’s timidity.
“I think for any number of reasons, the modern church in America is reticent to take clear positions on moral issues. And as a result there’s been very little challenge to these attempts to redefine gender and to redefine marriage. When those who are commissioned to steward truth suddenly find truth too hot to handle, then who’s going to steward it? Well, no one. And like Paul said, how will they hear if nobody preaches?”