Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So, why do I keep writing about the nonsense that Walt Heyer throws up?

Largely, it's because every time he opens his yap on a subject, I end up finding a few more articles written elsewhere that seem to be all too quick to echo his sentiments without bothering to do any real research.

Take, for example, the article recently published in the Kelowna Daily Courier newspaper entitled "Transgendered kids a bunch of baloney".  Too much of this article reads like the writer has run across Heyer's blog, and or possibly watched one too many Fox News interviews of Keith Ablow who runs around making all kinds of scurrilous claims about transfolk and homosexuals, claiming authority because he has a PhD.

These kinds of idiotic arguments need to be called out for one simple reason - to fail to do so would be to tacitly accept the lies that they contain.

Living Full Time vs Trying To Live Full Time

This is another post challenging some of Walt Heyer's rubric about his failed transition.

In this post, I'm going to take apart and analyse Heyer's own narrative about his life as Laura a piece at a time, and expose the glaringly obvious problems that contributed enormously to the outcome of his attempt to transition, and explain why Heyer is not an example of typical transitions.

A big part of the motivation for writing this post comes from the following doozy of a comment on his blog:

The key quotes I present will be taken from Walt's own autobiography Trading My Sorrows, Kindle Edition. at four years, he was pretty positive about the outcome of his surgery?  I'm not so sure about that.  In fact, about the only time he seems even remotely happy about the outcome of his surgery is when he woke up in the recovery room after surgery.  It all pretty much seems to go downhill from there if I understand his narrative correctly:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sometimes it feels like the "anti-trans" crowd is like a broken record, making the most assinine claims over and over as if repeating their lies will somehow grant them a degree of truth.

Over at Mr. Heyer's blog of "my failed transition means nobody else should transition", we find him arguing Hormone Blockers -- Criminal Experimentation, and getting it dead wrong.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Walt Heyer: No Discussions For You

Apparently Mr. Heyer isn't interested in actually discussing his views.  I took the time to make it over to his blog and responded to his post So Many Different Issues Drive The Transgender To Surgery, and pointed out how wrong he was to infer from a Swedish study that increased rates of mental health issues among transsexuals meant that transition and GRS were an inappropriate treatment.

He deigned to allow the first couple of comments to stay, but after that he has just been deleting them.  As shown below.

Step 1, add new comment:

Step 2:  An hour later note that the commment has been removed:

Roughly translated, like most other anti-trans wingnuts, Walt Heyer cannot, and will not discuss the problems with how they are mangling data when it doesn't suit their particular dogma.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stunning ... or Stunned? You Decide!

In a pattern consistent with the anti-gay junk science of Paul Cameron, we find Walt Heyer grossly misconstruing two important studies in the last couple of years about transsexuals.

A recent Swedish study reports that having gender surgery increases suicide attempts and lowers the quality of life. It also points to increased occurrence of psychiatric issues and depression after sex change surgery. This research allows us to claim that changing genders is frequently more folly than effective treatment for the wide range of gender issues that do exist.
Shall we go take a closer look at what that Swedish study actually says?  Looking at the study in more detail, it claims that suicide among post-op transsexuals is approximately 19 times higher than in the general population.  That's bad - very bad by any measure. 

However, before we go diving off the deep end, let's examine the raw numbers a bit further, because they are very informative.

The Swedish study covers a very long period of time, from 1973 to 2003 - healthy thirty year period which is good for a longitudinal study like this.

Of these, we find that 10 of the patients tracked committed suicide in that thirty year period.  That is 10 out of a total population of 324 - approximately 3% of the transgender population.

If we go a step or two further, and look at suicide attempts as well as suicides, we have a total count of 39 out of 324 or 12%.

Both of these are disturbingly high numbers, but frankly any suicide is tragic, and deserves to be addressed.

However, that's nowhere near the brutal numbers of suicide attempts recorded by the NTDS Report on transgender health released in 2010.  (Unlike Heyer, who merely links to an MSNBC report on the study, I've linked to the study's download page so you can look for yourself)

When asked “have you ever attempted suicide?” 41% of respondents answered yes. 
Intriguingly, the Swedish study actually demonstrates a significant drop in the overall suicide rate compared to the raw data of the NTDS report.  Please recognize that the NTDS report didn't specifically study transsexuals, but rather the entire spectrum of transgender people, so we can't quite make an "apples to apples" comparison, but the numbers are interesting when compared with each other, since the NTDS study would include both pre and post operative trans people.

Heyer concludes that surgery is not a solution for transsexuals.  The Swedes are much more measured in their assessment, concluding that surgery alleviates the gender dysphoria aspects of transsexualism, but does not address other issues that the transsexual may be facing.
Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.
While Heyer is quick to leap to conclusions that suit his agenda, they aren't really borne out by reading the studies that he is referring to.  He then goes on to claim that transsexuals suffer from a whole host of other conditions, and that the referring professionals are being negligent in their conduct:
Transgenders suffer from psychiatric issues ranging from dissociative disorders, separation anxiety to full blown delusional disorders. I don’t fault the individuals who suffer and eventually request the life changing surgery. In my view, the responsibility lies with the surgeons and approving psychologists, unqualified and unfit, who do not care about the long-term results of changing genders. The approving psychologists in too many cases are more about giving the wanna-be transgender anything he or she wants, than in providing effective diagnosis and treatment for real psychiatric disorders.
Yes, there may be comorbid conditions that the transsexual is suffering from in parallel with the gender identity issues.  A carefully executed transition will include dealing with those additional conditions.  Long term follow-up post-transition, post-surgery is also a valuable support, as transsexuals do face significant discrimination pressures in the world.

The real issue is one of dealing with the social hostility and discrimination that transgender, and especially transsexual, people face on a daily basis just living their lives.  The NTDS report is quite clear about the higher levels of stress and discrimination that transgender people face in society, and it isn't exactly rocket science to understand the connection between discrimination, economic and social, and suicide attempts.