Originally, I was going to blog about my usual boring stuff - life, drawing, crocheting, how my son Paul has been enjoying school and so on. However, I've been chatting off and on (sort of) with Peter LaBarbera on Twitter about Transgenders and sex reassignment surgery and figured I would share it with you.
You may have heard of Peter LaBarbera. He is the founder of Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality (aftah.org). Don't let the name fool you, AFTAH has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and the only "truth" they seem to want to spread is telling everyone who will listen that homosexuals are godless, immoral, and want to turn everyone gay and get rid of Christianity.
The conversation started when I commented on a fellow transgender's video, congratulating them on starting hormones. Peter responded with a link to Sexchangeregret.com. The person who runs this website is "ex-transexual" Walt Heyer. Mr. Heyer, at first glance, seems to have the transgender person's best interests at heart. On his many websites (he has at least two that I've found, plus a blog, and a youtube channel), he seems to be warning about "sex change regret" which is when a transgender person undergoes gender reassignment surgery and regrets it afterwards.
This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Sex change regret does sometimes happen and transgender people need to be educated and told exactly what will and will not happen as a result of gender reassignment surgery. Where Walt Heyer goes wrong, and what raised a ton of red flags, is that not only is he highly recommended by the founder of a recognized hate group, but on his websites, he falsifies facts and statistics about suicide rates amongst transgender people.
On his website, tradingmysorrows.com for example, he states that suicide in transgender groups is over 40% (i.e. 4 out of 10 transgender people commit suicide). And he insinuates that this is a direct result of gender reassignment surgery. This is totally false. Yes, there is a suicide rate of 40% amongst transgenders, but this is amongst those who are denied treatment, who are rejected by their peers and family, and are forced to live a lie about who they really are.
In his blog, waltheyer.typepad.com, Walt Heyer links to outdated articles to "prove" his points. The tone he uses in this blog is very judgemental, condescending, and hateful. This hateful and judgemental attitude is very apparent in his entry "Bono, the Poser Transgender" wherein he slanders Chaz Bono, Cher's transgender son, saying that
"The media has been a salivating co-conspirator in advancing little Missy Bono's big fat lie that she is a transgender, when she is not."
He bases his reasoning on this by then insinuating that because Chaz Bono has opted to not undergo genital surgery, he is not a real transgender and is faking it for attention.
As a transgender person, I know what my gender is. There is no doubt in my mind that I am bigender. I am not female, I am not male. I am both and neither. What Peter LaBarbera and Walt Heyer don't seem to understand is that transgender people don't take hormones, don't undergo surgery to become a "man" or a "woman"; we do it because we are already a man or a woman and want our bodies to reflect that.
Gender Dysphoria is very real and very uncomfortable. For some of us, dressing as the gender we feel we are is enough to keep it at bay. For others, hormones are needed and wanted to help us achieve the appearance we want so badly. And still others elect, after a lot of therapy and research, to undergo top and (sometimes) bottom surgery. Not having surgery does not make us "fake" and "attention grabbing". Being trans* is more than what's between our legs. It's how we feel, how we act, and what we know.