Transgender surgery left him confused and suicidal


By Mark Ellis —

Walter Heyer as a boy
Walter Heyer as a boy

At a young age, he suffered abuse at the hands of several family members, which left him psychologically scarred. Many years later, after gender reassignment surgery failed to heal his brokenness, he found healing at a deeper level.

His traumatic journey began at four-years-old, when his grandmother – for whatever reason – started cross-dressing him. “By the time I was five, she made me a purple chiffon full-length dress,” says Walter Heyer, the author of Trading My Sorrows.

Every time his parents dropped him off at her house, she dressed him up as a little girl. “She got excited about me being a little girl. She liked me better as a little girl. She told me to keep it a secret.”

Two years later, Walter took the dress home and hid it in the bottom dresser drawer in his bedroom.

“At home I was a rough little kid, playing in the dirt with scuffed-up jeans. But I wasn’t getting the same affirmation at home as I got from my grandmother for being a girl. Her words of affirmation were powerful but very confusing,” he recalls.

One day at dinner, his mother asked, “So what’s with the dress you have in your drawer?”

Walter started to break out in a sweat. “Grandma made it for me.” He proceeded to tell them what had been going on and for how long.

His father got red with anger, his face glowing like a Roman candle. “You could have set off a nuclear explosion at that point,” Walter recalls. His father was a part-time policeman and industrial goods salesman and also into martial arts.

From that time on, Walter wasn’t allowed to go to grandma’s house unless his parents were with him.

The purple dress disappeared and he never saw it again, but it took on a life of its own within his thoughts.

“I had been a skinny kid before this. I started eating to fill that pain I was feeling. One time I ate seven sandwiches,” he says.

His father’s adopted brother, only a teenager, decided Walter was “fair game” and at family gatherings he would take him off behind the garage and molest him.

He complained one day to his mother and she didn’t believe him. “That didn’t happen; you’re lying,” she said.

Dad decided he needed to shape Walter up, so his discipline got more aggressive. “He would spank me with a hardwood floor plank. Today it would be called abuse because it left welts. At first I would cry and wail. But then I decided the only way to defend against it was to be silent.”

In high school, Walter excelled in theater, running track and became the kicker on his football team.

At the same time, his inner conflict intensified. “I had this split persona,” he recounts. “The female inside me was silent in terms of visibility but lived mightily in my head. Everything was confusing.”

Questions swirled through his mind: Who am I? Am I really a girl? Am I really a boy? Why was my uncle abusing me? Why was dad hitting me?

“It was like a radio in my head playing this stuff over and over again. I couldn’t turn it off. There was no off switch.”

His parents dropped Walter and his brother at church but didn’t attend themselves. He didn’t have any relationship with God.

Later the family moved and he was baptized at another church. “I was so damaged by what happened (in the past) I couldn’t get in a relationship with anybody, let alone God,” he says.

“I went to church and I prayed for the Lord to take this stuff away from me, to heal me from it. I thought this stuff must be so new to God that he doesn’t understand it. I felt like I was on my own and needed to fix it myself.”

After college, Walter became an associate space engineer, working on the Apollo space project and an expert on cryogenic connecters.

He met a girl at church in the Sunday night singles group. They dated two years and got married. “We were doing well and had a nice relationship,” he recalls. “We were going to church. I still wanted to see what God could do to heal me.” They attended couples conferences at Forest Home, a Christian camp in the local mountains.

But sadly, the seed his grandmother planted – watered by the abuse — continued to grow and live in his head as if it was real and alive.

A double life

Secretly, he began cross-dressing and going to bars to “relieve the stress.” He also started to use alcohol more heavily.

“I was married with two kids. Nobody knew about this. I found a place far away from home to do this,” he confesses.

He left the aerospace industry and took a job in the automotive industry, which involved more travel. He became one of the most successful people in his company while he lived a double life.

“By the time my kids grew up, we were still attending church. If you looked at one side of my life it would look absolutely perfect. I had two worlds I lived in,” he admits.

In 1980 Walter visited a transgender surgeon, Dr. Stanley Biber, known as the preeminent expert in the world. After meeting for 45 minutes in his San Francisco office, Dr. Biber looked at Walter and said, “You have gender dysphoria. What you need to do is undergo gender reassignment surgery, take hormones, and completely change and become female.”

Walter was dumbfounded. “That seems a bit quick to make that kind of assessment.”

“No, you’re a perfect candidate for this. I’ve been doing this for years,” the doctor said confidently.

Walter waited two more years until the pressure cooker in his mind reached the boiling point.

Finally, at 42-years-old he sat down with his wife and told her everything that had been happening. “We need to divorce and I need to change genders,” he announced.

transgender journey
transgender journey

She exploded. “This was even more devastating because the kids were involved and this kind of pain no one should ever have to experience,” he says.

His daughter never spoke to him again. “My son said he wished I had cancer and died because at least he could tell his friends what happened.”

Walter went ahead with the gender reassignment surgery, but it led to unexpected consequences. He was terminated from his job and was not able to find another job. Financial pressures mounted quickly.

Hitting bottom

“Within a few months I was homeless, living in a park in Long Beach, California. By that time, I was a full-blown alcoholic.”

A friend let him live in his garage. “I was so dirty and messed up he didn’t want me in the house. The garage looked like the Waldorf Astoria at that point.”

Walter started to attend AA meetings and heard people talk about their higher power. “A few people talked about Christ, not a lot, but enough that it rang my bell a little bit.”

He received some Christian counseling, pro bono. “He ( the counselor) could see my life was a total mess. I was suicidal and he got very concerned. He said I needed to live in a healthy family.”

The counselor arranged for him to live with a pastor and his schoolteacher wife and two teenage kids.

Walter got a job as ‘Laura Jensen’ working at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory. Laura went to Bible study and church with his/her new family in Pleasanton, California.

“The family embraced me. The daughter let me have her room and she slept on the couch. They wrapped their arms around me and loved me. They didn’t throw the Bible at me or pray that I get fixed. They sat back and were curious about my story and how all this came about.”

But one day Laura relapsed. She got intoxicated at a biker’s bar and her new family told her she needed to go to a recovery home. They dropped her off at a women’s recovery home in San Francisco.

At recovery meetings she heard people talk about their higher power again, and sometimes Jesus, but it was usually frowned upon to mention the name of Jesus.

Laura visited a church in Foster City and went in to see the pastor.

“Are you going to try and fix me?” Laura asked.

“My job is to try to love you,” the pastor replied. “It’s God’s job to try and change you.”

But internally, Laura wasn’t sure she could be fixed. “I wasn’t sure God could do anything with me. I felt like I was on the scrap heap of life, part of discarded humanity.”

A group of people in the church began to pray for Laura in a more intentional way. The prayers brought the beginnings of change. “I reached greater sobriety and an understanding of who I was, so I began to restore Walt and dress as Walt. There was something going on that made me want to re-connect with Walt.”

Still in the Laura persona, she went to UC Santa Cruz and began to study the psychology of addictions, thinking she might become a counselor. After she was sent into clinical environments and worked as an intern for two years she came to a startling conclusion.

“I realized that nobody changes gender. The whole thing is a myth, a fantasy, it’s delusional, a psychological disorder, and that began to trouble me.

“I realized I was a fraud as a female. I hadn’t really changed. I only made it look like I had. I had my driver’s license changed back to Walt. I began dressing as Walt.”

A counselor in Santa Monica told Laura (Walter) he had a dissociative disorder.

“Really, what does that really mean?” Walter asked.

“Based on what you told me, the cross dressing (by your grandmother) and the sexual abuse caused you to dissociate. You did not want to be who you were because that little boy was being sexually abused, cross-dressed, and being physically abused. Those things built within you another personality. You weren’t happy being a boy because you got abused too much and had too many bad things happen.

“But because you’ve gone through gender reassignment surgery it’s going to be almost impossible for you to recover.”

Walter wept when the counselor told him recovery seemed impossible.

He moved back to the San Francisco area and re-connected with the church that had received him well.

Walter visited a Christian psychologist and they went through the traumas in his past, carefully, praying for them. “We put everything down on paper and them walked outside and lit the paper on fire in the parking lot. I thought it was great symbolism but wondered if it would work.”

Powerful prayer, amazing vision

The two men went back inside, sat down across from each other, and began to pray. Suddenly, an extraordinary vision filled Walter’s mind.

“I could see the Lord Jesus Christ in white and he was down in this position reaching out to me.

“There was a little baby and the baby was me as a boy. He reached down and picked up the boy and cradled him in his arms and then said, ‘You will be safe with me forever.’”

“From that moment on my life was redeemed and restored and I began living in His will. I am sober almost 30

Walter today
Walter today

years and married 18 years.

“The Lord has taken this horribly broken life and restored it. I owe it to people who loved on me and stood by and watched the Lord working in my life, as ugly and difficult and painful as it was for them to watch at times.”

“Now my life serves to honor and glorify Jesus Christ. My testimony is that being transgender is redeemable and you don’t have to live that way.”


If you want to know God personally, go here

For more about Walter Heyer and his book, go here


  1. God bless you greatly Walt. That must be such a difficult story to share. But the love, triumph & your story as a whole will be such a Godsend to those dealing with this today. Thank God for you & your life!
    May God always mightily bless you & all your endeavors.

  2. Wow what a remarkable story! May God continue to bless you as you tell of His great love and forgiveness and how He turned your “mess into a message!”

  3. Walt, wow…holy wow. What an amazing testimony! Thank you for sharing the deepest truths of your life story with all of us. I pray that your relationship with your son & daughter be fully restored and that every heart & spirit be renewed, refreshed, forgiven & restored by our Father in heaven in Yahshua/Christ Jesus mighty name. Our Lord must be so well pleased with you 🙂

  4. The world uses psychology to describe what is known in the bible as demonic possession/oppression. This happens all to frequently when we go to the world for answers instead of God. I’ve read Walt’s story, and am astonished someone from his church didn’t recognize his problem while he was in his homeless stage. This went on so much longer than it needed to. Thank God, He Himself stepped in and did what His ‘church’ failed to do. We, as Christians have the authority of the wiles of the enemy. Nothing is beyond what we can do with Christ in us, and we in Him. The body of Christ needs to wake up and realize the weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal, but they are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. Walt wanted help. It would have been a no-brainer for someone around him to stop looking to the world for answers, and start looking to God and His word. Wake up, church! This is just the beginning!

    • Karen, you are right. We don’t “need” worldly psychiatrists or psychologists to help us as disciples of Jesus. We need “true” Christians to counsel us when we have problems. There are so few church members or friends who can be trusted to listen and keep their mouths shut; in other words not gossip about someone’s confidences. And especially not just give advice, unsolicited.

  5. May Our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless you! Your life’s story is so powerful that it struck every emotional chord in my body and cut clean to my soul! I am truly deeply sorry for all the terrible abuse, horrendous confusion, and all of the pain you had suffered through so many years. Nobody ought to have to endure that! I am overflowing with deepest joy that our Great, gloriously loving and merciful Lord God, Savior, Brother and Best Friend put such good, warm, loving, genuinely caring, honest Christian folks in your life to help you sort it all out, rediscover, and at last reconcile you with yourself! You are a wonderful and amazing man! Henceforth, you will be in my daily prayers for blessings as well as in thanksgiving for the miracle that you are! God bless you always!

  6. This is the ‘other side’ of the transgender debate that needs to be made public. And it makes so much more sense than any gender reassignment surgery. Nothing can change our DNA – that is the evidence for the person we were created to be. And God can change lives, take away the pain of abuse. and heal us from the inside out, in a way that no surgery can achieve. Gender dysphoria is just a diagnosis – it has no power within itself, but is made much of these days as a reason for gender reassignment. And it is usually accompanied by emotional pain and confusion. But only God can heal the whole person. No surgery can do that.

  7. What an amazing story of your journey. Thank you for your bravery in sharing it. I hope the truth about this subject will spread and that many who are confused as you were, will be able to get the help they need before rash decisions are made. God bless you.

  8. Walt, doors will open for you to bring healing into other’s lives. You’re certainly not alone and many are trapped in the painfulness that you’ve experienced first hand. You walk in the freedom of Christ and you’ll bring that same liberty to many. Raise your hands up to the Lord and receive the ministry He has for you.

  9. Praise Jesus! All praise, glory and honor to Him for leading Walt step by step out of all the sin, hurt and confusion into His loving arms!
    You are a beautiful man of God Walt, your face is aglow with Jesus!
    May God use your testimony to help many.
    Love to you in Jesus.

  10. Your life is an inspiration for many out there who is looking for affirmation in all the wrong places.
    look how words can either bless or curse you. Thank God for giving us chances

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