There and Back Again (and Again)
If you pay any attention at all you are aware that the same “Christian” Dominionists who passionately argue that being gay can be “cured” are also deeply invested in the “ex-trans” trope, and in service thereto the co-opt every single detransition story they can turn up. Often the detransitioner is co-operative with their narrative (more on that in a sec). More often they are doing what religion so often does: appropriating someone else’s pain to advance their own interests.
The most hig profile purveyor of this baloney is one Walt Heyer who has made a minor celebrity of himself in evangelical circles, selling books and making his living by reformatting his own history to fit the preferred narrative, then asserting that his own newly claimed) experience is definitive of all trans people’s situation. To briefly review, Heyer – who was a raging alcoholic among other things at the time, came to believe during the late 70’s that he was female and managed to find a therapist with lax standards to grease the skids for him to have GRS. The gatekeeping which can be oppressive now was wildly inconsistent 40 years ago with little in the way of uniform guidance. One of the big blind spots was the failure, on some occasions, to rule out any “masquerading” psychological condition which was presenting as that which we now describe as gender dysphoria. Some years after Heyer accomplished surgical transition, s/he had a religious conversion, dealt with the alcoholism, and came to understand that he had “multiple personality disorder” (what is today called “Dissociatve identity Disorder”). He literally wrote about it in his autobiography!) and was never trans at all.
Nowdays, though, recognizing the profitability of being the Evangelicals’ poster boy for trans regret, he disclaims that he ever thought that was true. No need to let facts gum up a good living, right? Anyway, among his various revenue streams is a website that proports to host many stories of transition regret. It’s been a few years since I forced myself to wade through it but at the time, virtually every story fell into one of three categories:
1. Missed diagnosis or false assumption of being trans (like Heyer);
2. religious conversion leading to internalized condemnation and the sense that one had to “honor what god made me” by going back to their assumed birth gender;
3. people who succumbed to overwhelming sociological pressures such as loss of family, job, social standing, religious community, and so forth. The cultural pressure to conform can be astonishingly powerful and some cannot ear under the weight and consequences of that judgment.
I didn’t find any case that did not ft one of those models. I’m sure there ARE people who say “yes I experience gender dysphoria but I regret attempting to address that medically because it did not work” – there must be. But they are damned hard to find. Still, I didn’t actually set out to write about Walt the Profiteer. If there’s a special hell, there must be a room for people who co-opt and exploit other peoples pain for fame and fortune, but rather the person who has been the Pharisees second favorite cautionary tale – until now.
I speak of the once and again Samantha Kane. The latest chapter in her complex story is only now emerging and sadly a British tabloid got the story first and of course provides the world a sensationalized spin. You need to read some background (too much info to relate here) on the journey to now, but the short version is that Iraqi lawyer Sam Hasimi transitioned surgically in 1997 and lived a very visible glamorous life as Samantha Kane. Then, seven years later having become estranged from her kids, she detransitioned and took the name Charles Kane but was no less visible. This made her an excellent example for anti-trans bigots to cite as a case of regret and successful detransition. But as she explained to the Daily Mail, it wasn’t that she regreted the transition for it’s own sake, but because of the family dynamic (seeing a pattern here?). She states that within a year of returning to a male presentation she realized she had made a massive mistake (not the sort of regret Heyer and his backers will want you to know about) but for years resigned herself to “making the best of it” because she realized that being so famous would make her very notorious if she transitioned yet again.
But now she has. And while her story is complex and ongoing, it drops the hammer on some of the critics’ favorite anti-trans tropes. Good.
Photo by: Lorie Shaull