By Michael Ashcraft —
Beaten up with a swollen face, Jeffrey Johnston waited in the ER for medical attention and surveyed his life since becoming a transgender. A woman with whom he did drugs had just pushed him down a flight of stairs.
“Where did I get to this point in my life? I hate my life,” he thought as he sat in a wheelchair. “My life is nothing but doing drugs and prostitution. I don’t like myself. How did I end up with breast implants? Why do I have all this confusion in my mind?”
Suddenly, he looked across the room and saw an elderly couple. They beamed love at him. The woman asked him, “Do you know Jesus?”
That was the beginning of the end of a dark journey down the path of gender confusion, of drugs, prostitution and self-loathing. Jeffrey regrets his decades in the underbelly of American sin, but he says he’s gained compassion to help others trapped in the same lifestyle.
It all started in his childhood. Mom told him he should have been born a girl.
“When somebody says that to you, you just live with rejection,” he says in an NHCornerstone video. He heard his mom’s voice repeating the refrain over the years and eventually he accepted it.
At age nine, he was raped by one of his dad’s employees, who threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone.
Two years later, his parents divorced and he moved to Portland, Maine. One day in Deering Oaks Park, he met some gay men who invited him drinking. Accepting, he went with them to their apartment, where he was raped by one after another.
At age 18, Jeffrey met some transsexuals in this gay bar who flirted with him and planted more seeds of confusion.
“You’re too pretty to be a boy,” they cooed. “You should start female hormones.”
He meditated on what they were saying: “I would chew on those things that they spoke to me.” It coincided with what his mother had told him.
“I was so sick and tired of the turmoil in my mind of hearing those voices, those lies in my mind: ‘You’re, a girl. You should have been born a girl,’ he remembers. “I was so sick of it that I actually just came into agreement with them.
“Why do I feel like a girl trapped in a man’s body?” he says. “It was a lifelong torture for 41 years.”
He started drugs, prostitution and female hormones all at once. He adopted the name Janelle.
But the promised happiness of transitioning never materialized. Instead, he had a nervous breakdown.
“In a nightclub one night I just started smashing my fists on a car,” he says.
Living in Boston, he was a transgender by age 20.
“I needed a job,” Jeffrey says. “I met another transgender in a nightclub in Boston and the individual said to me: ‘Well I work at a strip joint called The Combat Zone? I think I can get you a job’. Well anyways, I got that job and I did that job for almost 20 years.”
One day, he was taking drugs with a woman across the hall in the other apartment, and they got into a fight. Lying, he said he would call the police. He walked out and towards the stairs.
“She come running full force and just pushed me face first and my face smashed the handrail as I went down the stairs,” he says.
“But as I lie at the foot of the stairs, something just miraculously came over me and I heard a voice say to me, ‘God had to have been with you’ to have survived the fall.’
“Well, you’re right. God had to have been with me,” he replied in his mind.
At the emergency room, he waited for medical attention. His face was swollen and he ached all over.
“I’m in so much pain,” he said to himself. “There’s no way when the doctor calls my name I’m gonna be able to go walk with him out of this waiting room. So I looked outside the waiting room and there was a wheelchair.”
He limped and shuffled over to the wheelchair and sat down.
“When I turned around and looked back in the waiting room where I was sitting all of a sudden there appeared before my face of a little old woman and a little old man.”
He was loathing his life. “I was just wanting someone to love me,” he says.
“When I looked in that waiting room, when I saw this little old woman and little old man, when I looked at them, I just knew that they had such love and concern for me. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew it.”
The lady came over to him, put her hand on his shoulder and said sweetly, “Honey, do you know Jesus?”
He lied and said he did.
Once he was released from the hospital, he returned to his apartment.
Even though he lied, the lady’s voice kept speaking to him in his mind: “Do you know Jesus?”
“I’d run to the kitchen to get away from this voice. Then I heard a voice in the kitchen say:
Do you know Jesus?
I’d run to the bedroom thinking I’m getting away from this voice.
Then he heard it again. Do you know Jesus?
For a whole week, he couldn’t escape the voice. He also didn’t answer it.
His agitation was growing. The voice was interfering with his life, visiting the methadone clinic by 7:30 in the morning and walking the streets “to turn a trick” for the rest of the day, he says.
“I wanted to get away from this voice because I couldn’t do my daily routine because of this voice that I kept hearing.”
Finally, he yelled back at the voice: “You’re aggravating me! I can’t do anything because you keep asking me this question: ‘Do I know Jesus?’
“This is what I’ll do. I’ll turn on the Christian TV on and I’ll learn about this Jesus.”
The voice ceased.
“One day I was sitting in my bed, all of a sudden and the hand of God just came upon my right shoulder and he pulled my whole life in front of my face,” he recalls. “There were 41 pictures of my life, it was like the film out of a camera and then he said, ‘This isn’t you. This is what the devil has done to you.’”
God showed him the time he got a nose job done, the time he eliminated his beard, the time he had his Adam’s apple shaved.
“I didn’t want the homosexual lifestyle. I didn’t want to do drugs. I didn’t want the transgender identity confusion in my mind,” he says. “I was really angry because I heard on TV that this Jesus changes you from within. Why don’t I feel different? I want to feel different.”
The next day, he got up and made his bed. When he straightened up, God spoke to his heart:
Behold I make all things new. The old things have passed away. You’re a new creation.
God sovereignly reached down and touched him and he was born again.
From that moment, the drug addiction vanished. He dropped prostitution and transgenderism. Fourteen years later, he’s still walking the path with Jesus. God gave him a hunger for Bible reading. And he marveled that God would see him and hear his cry for mercy.
“You mean to tell me you, the God who created billions and billions of people would take time out of his day to talk to somebody who thought that they were so dirty?
“I’m just so bad. You know from the prostitution and all that stuff that he had done all those years, because I thought I was too naughty. It was too bad. I thought he wanted nothing to do with me.”
He experienced forgiveness. But the consequences of altering his body were not so easily dismissed.
“It’s this aftermath, to try to live with and deal with, it it’s difficult,” he says.
“The victim became victor. What he suffered taught him to have compassion for others.
“I’m feeling grateful. What happened to Jeffrey has given me a compassion to people that are prostituting or go through gender identity confusion. I can cry with those people. Little boys, little girls that are being fondled by people. I truly have compassion in my heart. If I could say to anybody, please get to know God. You know He loves you. He knew you before you were in your mother’s womb.”
For God so loved transgenders, he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Michael Ashcraft teaches journalism at the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica.