A new HBO Max documentary, “Transhood,” follows for five years the lives of four Kansas City, Mo. children who believe they are the opposite sex.
I identified as a “transgender woman” for eight years. Today, watching this documentary, I marvel at how the events of my childhood groomed me into believing that identifying as the opposite sex was the solution to my gender confusion. My heart goes out to these children who also are being groomed into a transgender life.
A Purple Dress Took My Boyhood Away
I can trace the onset of my gender confusion and wanting to be a female to the psychological, emotional, and sexual damage that occurred before I was ten. Starting when I was four years old, my dad would drop me off at my maternal grandparents’ house after work on Friday so he and my mom could take off for weekends of camping and fishing.
My grandparents lived on the outskirts of Los Angeles in a little shack behind an automobile junkyard. Grandpa was often out for hours at a time, towing cars. Grandma, a seamstress, stayed at home fashioning dresses for customers.
This is where my crossdressing and gender confusion started. I remember sitting on the porch, watching grandma cut and stitch pieces of purple chiffon cloth into a beautiful full-length evening dress for me, her four-year-old grandson. She helped me stand on a small stool for fittings and hemming. As she worked, she smiled and remarked how cute I looked.
The secret crossdressing “game” with grandma went on for about two years and ended abruptly when my mom and dad learned about it. Both were in shock. They threw the dress away and made sure that I never visited grandma’s alone again. But when my teen uncle found out about it, he teased me and made fun of me in front of my playmates, then escalated to sexual molestation.
Over time, I became increasing uncomfortable with myself as a boy, to the point of disliking myself as Walt and adopting a secret female name at age 13. My thoughts constantly revolved around how I could become a female.
Self-destructive thoughts and actions took over. Starting in my teens, I drank alcohol excessively. From there, the damage mounted: out-of-control drinking, copious amounts of female hormones to look like a woman, divorce and loss of family, loss of career, and drug abuse, culminating with “gender affirming” surgery at age 42.
I lived as a woman for the next eight years. At first I was happy, but when the giddy effect wore off, staring me in the face was the reality that I was an alcoholic who hadn’t dealt with pain inflicted on me in childhood. I crashed, entered alcohol rehab, and started therapy.
Adults Groom Children Into Transgenderism
It has taken me years to adequately assess the full range of consequences inflicted by grandma’s “gender grooming.” Benjamin Franklin’s proverb, “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late,” sums up my feelings now at 80 years of age when I reflect on how I, a reasonable man, became a willing participant in body-mutilating surgeries because a so-called “gender specialist” said that was the treatment I needed.
The purple dress marked ground zero, the onset of my desire to eradicate Walt. I can see that grandma’s withholding of love for the four-year-old boy Walt set in motion the desire to punish myself for being a boy. “Only girls would be loved, not boys” was the underlying message of her affirmation of me in the purple dress. Like any child, I basked in grandma’s undivided attention and wanted to please her.
Grandma was totally unaware of the damage that she was inflicting, indoctrinating me into enjoying being a girl instead of who I really was—the scruffy little boy with cowboy boots and torn jeans. In retrospect, I see her behavior as emotional and psychological abuse because it planted the idea I would be loved more as a girl.
I see now that medical transition—injecting female hormones and undergoing multiple surgical procedures—to destroy the “male me” was a form of self-abuse not unlike drinking to excess. Fortunately, I finally woke up from the delusion, got sober, worked through the pain of childhood with several capable psychologists. I have now found peace, and remarkably even joy, living as Walt.
The ‘Transhood’ Parents Are Doing It, Too
Like so many others, the HBO Max documentary “Transhood” fails on so many levels. For starters, the subjects are children who can’t possibly understand the long-term consequences of living as someone they aren’t.
Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatrics, recently said: “The fact is many kids under the age of seven are still developing cognitively. When we tell these young kids … the lie that they might be born in the wrong body, … it’s psychological abuse because we are disrupting their normal cognitive and psychological development.”
Just as my grandma disrupted my normal boy development by affirming me in a dress, the adults in the documentary are disrupting the normal development of four children by allowing them to experiment with social transition, that is, the adoption of a false identity.
Yes, The Evidence Shows This Is Child Abuse
We already have evidence beyond common sense and life experience that shows transgendering children is child abuse. Here is just some of it.
Gender specialists don’t know who the trans kids are. Research psychologist Kristiana Olson of the University of Washington, an advocate for transitioning children, put it this way: “We just don’t have definitive data one way or the other.” She is leading a study to track outcomes of several hundred children over 20 years “to be able to, hopefully, answer which children should or should not transition,” she said.
To be clear, Olson is not leading a study—she’s conducting an experiment on vulnerable children. The drugs are not approved for this use and the outcomes are harmful.
Outcomes are not tracked. In a landmark case in the United Kingdom high court brought by two people treated as children at the nation’s sole gender clinic, Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), judges were “surprised” that GIDS did not track data about their patients, even while under their care. The judges lambasted GIDS for not having any evidence showing the efficacy of their treatments and concluded that the evidence they presented to the court showed the “treatment is as yet innovative and experimental.”
We need to stop pretending that doctors have scientific backing for their recommendations to transition children socially and medically. They do not. In fact, a great amount of research shows transgender treatments are medically harmful to children.
Children lack the maturity to consent to medical interventions. Furthermore, the U.K. judges ruled that children younger than 16 lack the maturity to give informed consent to the experimental gender treatments that alter the body.
Children are not born in the wrong body. Studies show that children are not born with gender dysphoria. The documentary shamelessly ignores biological fact and the truth that no verbal declaration will change one’s sex.
Dr. Cretella, a strong advocate for children, says: “When we tell children, parents or the general public that you can be born in the wrong body, that is science fiction and it is gaslighting. When we abuse children psychologically in this way … when we affirm them in this delusion that they’re born in the wrong body, we are making it far more difficult for them to embrace reality.”
Five years is too short a timeframe. The HBO documentary tracks the children over five years, but regrettable outcomes from transgender treatments often occur years, even decades, later, when the thrill of transition wears off. My first few years after surgery were exhilarating, but unhappiness steadily grew until I decide to detransition back to life as Walt around eight years later.
People are being hurt. I often thought I was the only one who regretted going down this path. But I am not. My web site, sexchangeregret.com, has many real-life examples of the results of changing genders taken from the headlines and from the letters I receive on a steady basis.
I hear from so many distraught adults and parents of children about the regrettable and often gruesome consequences of being indoctrinated into “changing genders” that I assembled 30 representative stories into a book, Trans Life Survivors, to give a glimpse of what the survivors of changing genders have to say about what they endured. (See Stella Morabito’s book review in The Federalist.)
Documentaries such as this one from HBO Max depict confused children and their parents participating in a grand social experiment under the misguided assumption that affirmation of cross-gender identities equals love. But it is not love, and can have catastrophic consequences. I’ve lived this madness from a young age, and know that twisting children’s minds to the point of questioning or hating who they are is child abuse.
“Transhood” ended their coverage at five years, but I haven’t seen the big media documentary sharing the real-life stories from people at 10, 15, and 20 years after they go down this path. Sadly, too many of them don’t end well, as indie documentaries have shown. These children deserve far, far better.
Walt Heyer is an accomplished author and public speaker with a passion for mentoring individuals whose lives have been torn apart by unnecessary gender-change surgery.