A man who underwent a sex change then had it reversed is warning that surgeons are too quick to operate in cases like his.
Walt Heyer, 74, now advises people who want to have a sex change that their problem is psychological.
Heyer, from Los Angeles, was married with two children before he had surgery to look like a woman in the 1980s.
Very very upset
He got divorced three months before the operation, after which he lived as Laura Jenson.
His daughter – who was 15 at the time – was “very, very upset” by his decision, and his twelve-year-old son said it would have been “easier” if Heyer had died.
He described the physical transition from male to female as a “battle”, but it wasn’t until he began studying psychology that he decided the sex change had been a mistake.
“Once I studied psychology, I realised that it is impossible to biologically transform someone from one gender to the other, and that’s the moment you realise that it’s a psychological condition, and not medical”, Heyer said.
“Gender dysphoria is a psychological condition where you are dissatisfied with your gender”, he added.
Heyer talked about his experiences during childhood, including when his grandmother dressed him in female clothing at the age of five.
Sex change reversed
He was also sexually abused by his uncle, and suffered under his mother’s severe discipline.
Heyer lived as a woman for eight years, before having his sex change reversed.
Now he runs a website called Sex Change Regret, through which he helps hundreds of people who contact him for advice about having a sex change operation.
“All of them have some level of depression, and we’re not treating them – we’re just cutting off body parts and giving them a new name and a new gender”, Heyer said.
He argued that everyone he helps can attribute their desire for a sex change to childhood issues.
Heyer added: “There’s a huge element of trust that all of the pre-surgical transgender people place in the hands of the clinicians.
“They make them go through counselling, but it’s more of what I would frankly refer to as a rubber stamp because they’re looking to approve them.”
Research shows that a high number of people who undergo sex change surgery go on to commit suicide.
In 2011, a long-term study in Sweden revealed that individuals who had sex change surgery were nearly five times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to a control group.