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Guess Who's Coming to Lunch...Again

Guess Who's Coming to Lunch...Again
A man who became a woman and then transitioned back to being a man

AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
October 15, 2018

Nine years ago, in 2009, I interviewed M. She was in the eighth year of a 17-year pilgrimage, having transitioned from living as a man, to living as a woman. She is of German American origin, an attorney who had worked for a number of high-level financial firms. She had been married, raised two sons and is now divorced. She wrote, asking to meet with me regarding what she saw as serious confusion in traditional Anglican circles regarding the differences between homosexuality and transsexuality. With this interview, I broke new ground. Till then I had never met such a person, however I did know that such persons existed; I had simply never met one.

During the course of the interview, she made this astonishing confession. "Let's be clear that there is no such thing as "transgender behavior". Transgender, by definition, has nothing to do with behavior. It has to do with who one perceives oneself to be. I do not endorse any sexual behavior that does not comport with traditional Christian teaching. This includes not only homosexuality, but also adultery and fornication. They are all sin, and neither is better or worse than any other. All separate us from God. The biblical standard for sexual behavior is chastity outside of traditional male-female marriage, monogamy and fidelity within it; and it applies to everyone, including transgender folks."

Thus began an unusual journey into the mind and body of a person who honestly believed she should have been born a woman and not a man.

She also made this startling confession; "[But] to continue to live in a gender dysphoric state is not something that I would wish on my worst enemy. It produces huge stresses in one's daily life, increases the potential of dysfunctional behavior like substance abuse, increases the likelihood of suicide by 500% and dramatically reduces the quality of one's life."

When the story appeared at VOL's website, it quickly garnered over 25,000 hits and appeared in newspapers and medical journals across the country.

M said she was a worshipping Anglo-Catholic and had had both evangelical and charismatic experiences; she is also a Cursillo graduate. She has since become a Roman Catholic, though she states she has been shunned by priests in several Anglican/Episcopal churches prior to her move to Rome, when she made known her history.

We kept in touch occasionally over the years, but we never saw each other again. Recently, out of the blue, I received an email from M, letting me know that she had now retransitioned back to living as a male and reverted back to her original name, G. He wanted to tell me the story of his transition to living as a male once again.

I found the opportunity to interview G. to be irresistible. Again, I am not his judge. Only God can plumb the depths of his psyche and personality; I cannot, nor am I equipped to do so. Unfortunately, due to our current social situation and the anger and hatred of some in the "transgender" community toward people who retransition, I could not get him to agree to go public with his name. He wants to protect himself and his family from potential abuse and violence.

Following is the interview.

VOL: May I say you look different. (Much laughter). I may need a little time to adjust, so bear with me.

G: Not a problem. (More laughter).

VOL: You were born male, then diagnosed with a gender disorder in 2000, and transitioned to living as female in 2002. The hope was that this transition would make managing your disorder easier. Apparently, it hasn't quite turned out that way. You wrote and said you had transitioned back to being a male in November of 2017. What happened?

G: I guess the simplest answer is that "life happened." When I finished my transition, I was euphoric. I really thought that I had done what I needed to do to get control of my gender disorder and live a healthy life. I had followed the appropriate protocols, did what the doctors told me in the proper order, got the counselling, had the appropriate tests to confirm the diagnosis, told the family and made the transition. I checked all the boxes. My transition was tremendously successful: I was happy, I blended in perfectly, I was accepted by family. Everything should have been great... and it was, for about 10 years.

But then, by year 10, the good feelings had faded and I started to have doubts. So that sent me to do further research.

VOL: When we met in 2009, you were utterly and totally convinced of your femaleness. You said at that time that you were born with a condition called gender dysphoria, commonly known as transsexualism. If that is no longer true, what changed?

G: Oh, that's not changed. I still have the gender disorder. I'll have that for the rest of my life. It can't be cured, only managed. I managed it for about 17 years, living as M. I'll continue to manage it now, living as G. I was much more comfortable internally living as a woman. It felt "right" in a way that I cannot express. Female mannerisms and behaviors were so very natural, where I'd never been comfortable as a man. I never "fit in". Its more challenging living as G because I've lost that feeling of "rightness" and I have to work harder to integrate into male society.

On the other hand, I'm much more comfortable living externally as G. I don't have to worry about my presentation -- passing as a woman. I don't have to worry about whether my voice is ok, if my clothes fit my body. I don't have any concerns becoming involved in church functions.

If this sounds surreal and a bit confusing, I'm not surprised. Gender deviant people must learn to act in order to fit in. I've acted all my life: first as G for 45 years, then as M for 15 years, now as G again. It's just part of what we do in order to survive.

VOL: You wrote to say that as time progressed and you have lived these past 17 years as female, you have come to a much greater understanding of gender disorders. You also said you had become fully aware of some issues of which you only had the vaguest awareness of when you initially transitioned back in 2002. Please elaborate.

G: There are post-transition issues that are not discussed in the transition process, and I found out about them as time goes along. I'm not casting any blame here. At the time of my transition I was so obsessed with fixing the immediate problem that I might not have been interested in thinking about long term issues. It may also be that many of those who work in the "gender business" don't know about them either. There's been very little long term follow up with post transition people. We really don't know how they fare over the long term.

There's only one long term study of which I'm aware. It's a Swedish study that shows a rise in suicide rates 10 years after transition. That made sense in my own situation, since I was feeling discomfort around year ten also. But it also made me think -- if suicide rates are rising post-transition, and transition is supposed to manage the disorder, then something is very wrong. The standard treatment protocols aren't always successful and there's something more to the equation.

I believe that "something more" is the reality of our biological identity. Gender deviant people want nothing more than to be "normal." But the reality is: we can never be normal. Transition does not make us normal. It only enables us to live normal-type lives. This simple but profound statement tends to be overlooked. People who say that there are "transgender women", or "transgender men", or "men with vaginas" or "women with penises" are simply wrong. One can't define away reality by changing the language. In the case of gender disorders, biology IS destiny.

In my own situation, I was not, and never would be, a woman. I could present as a woman, live as a woman, act as a woman, be accepted by society as a woman... but I was NOT a woman. That was the reality. I was male, I would always be male. The best I could do was to live as a female to make the disorder easier to manage.

It took me about 10 years to internalize that truism: five years for the first euphoria to fade away, and five years for the sense of unease to reassert itself, and for me to identify why I was uneasy.

VOL: You said that gender dysphoria is impossible to heal. "This may seem self-evident, (a real "duh" moment), but it is easy to overlook in the initial relief of finally getting treatment for the condition." Can you elaborate on this? Why is it impossible to heal?

G: It's impossible for us to heal because we can't identify where the problem lies. It seems to be a brain issue, but we have to be certain of that before we can even begin to think about fixing it. Even if we did know where in the brain this disorder lies, it would be impossible under current medical knowledge to fix it.

VOL: You said the treatment plan for gender dysphoria is only designed to make it easier to live with it.
The condition is always there, always in the back of one's mind. A person can only attempt to alleviate the symptoms. Please elaborate.

G: Since it's impossible to fix the disorder, the next best thing is to manage it. Protocols almost always require hormone therapy and transition upon a diagnosis of gender disorder. That's what I did, and that's what I've come to see is in error.

Diagnosis should be separated from treatment. Yes, I have a gender disorder and yes, it needs to be treated. But no, that should not automatically lead to hormone therapy and transition. Treatment should not be "one size fits all". Better to try less invasive methods first.

VOL: You said that transition creates its own, different set of problems that also don't go away. In essence, transitioning substitutes one set of issues for another. These new issues are equally difficult to manage, and they get more difficult with age. However, they don't normally manifest until about 10 years after transition is complete, after the initial relief is over and the medical professionals are out of the picture. Please elaborate on that.

G: Not everyone has these issues, but this is what I wrestled with in my own life:

The first issue is the loss of that euphoria and the realization that "this is as good as it gets." No, I cannot become the opposite sex that my brain tells me I am. I am who I am and I must live with that. This can lead to depression and, in some cases, suicide. I didn't have that experience, but the discomfort was strong enough to bring me to reexamine my decision to transition.

Secondly, there was a growing awareness that I would be "presenting as" for the rest of my life. I'd always have to be aware of my voice, that it was appropriately female. I'd always struggle with finding appropriate clothing to mask a male body. As I got older and my body changed, I'd have to work harder to be passable.

Third, and most importantly for me, I had to consider my own Christian witness. A number of serious questions presented themselves:
Was I presenting as someone I was not in order to feel better about myself? Was that just another fancy name for selfishness?
Was I engaged in a deception?
Didn't God create me as male, knowing beforehand that I would have this issue? Does that mean that I should stay as he created me?
How could I become involved in the life of the church while living this way? I could not join a men's group presenting as a woman and could not in good conscience join a woman's group because I was a man. I could not reveal any of my past for fear of judgment and/or rejection. I had to pretend that I was my sons' mother, when I was not.
What did my choices say to my sons? What sort of example was I giving them?

All this put quite a strain on my Christian life and witness.

VOL: You said at that time that sex is what goes on between your legs, but gender is what goes on between your ears. Would you care to elaborate on that? Is that still true?

G: Yes, that's a shorthand expression, but I believe it's accurate. Biological sex shows itself most obviously in genitalia. Gender is a more elusive concept. It is primarily a social science (as opposed to a 'hard science') concept based on feelings which makes me suspicious of it. Any biological concepts that can't be scientifically proven are potentially invalid and I would put the concept of gender in that category.

For myself and based on my own personal experience, I do believe that there's a biological component to gender, but it has been very difficult to pin down.

VOL: You wrote to say that it is now (finally) become obvious to me that I'm going to have to deal with gender-related issues for the rest of my life, it seemed better to transition back to male and wrestle with them in my original gender. Can you elaborate?

G: The key point was my understanding that I was going to have to wrestle with my gender disorder no matter how I present. That understanding was missing from my first transition. I thought that all the gender issues would go away upon transition. Wrong! Some existing ones went away, other new ones surfaced. Once I realized that and realized that my relationship with the Church would benefit from retransitioning, I didn't see any value in continuing to present as female. Better to go back to my original male presentation and become fully involved in the life of the church.

VOL: Can you be healed of a gender disorder?

G: No, short of a miracle, one cannot be healed of a gender disorder. It will be there until death. My job is to manage it to the best of my ability while living a holy Christian life.

VOL: Are you now saying that this is your cross to bear?

G: If you want to put it that way, certainly. I'll wrestle with this until the Lord calls me home to Him.

VOL: What happened next?

G: Effective last November, I went back to living as male, and resuming my identity as G. I had given this serious thought for about 5 years. I even spent some time talking to a gender counsellor about retransitioning. This individual was no help at all, even suggesting that I follow the same protocols that I did the last time, the ones that didn't work for me then! Talk about being stuck in a rut! Needless to say, I didn't see the benefit from the conversation.

When I was certain that retransitioning was the right thing to do, I sent a letter to my family and close friends, similar to the letter that I sent 17 years ago. While they had all accepted my first transition, most of them were overjoyed with the second one. I didn't realize until then, how difficult it had been for them to accept my change. But they hung in with me, for which I am forever grateful.

After that, it was all mechanical: setting a date for the transition, buying appropriate clothing, etc. We moved also, changing addresses so that I was able to settle into a new location without people knowing the "old me". That was a huge blessing. After that came the legal name change and all the other changes to bank accounts, birth certificates, passport and etc. All very routine and boring.

VOL: You'll forgive me if I ask if that involved genital reconstruction?

G: I haven't decided yet about another surgery. I only did the first one to make my body congruent with my female presentation and get my gender markers changed on my legal documents. I've been chaste since my transition. Since I will continue to be chaste, and since the gender markers can now be changed without surgery, I doubt if I'll bother. There are risks to any surgery, and I don't see much of a benefit to it.

VOL: The first time we met you were looking after your mother. Are you still taking care of her or have you moved on? Do you think about marriage again?

G: My mother is now 91, praise God. She's healthy and active and every day with her is a blessing. I'm her caregiver and happy to be so, since it gives me the opportunity to practice the 4th commandment on a regular basis.

Marriage is not a possibility. My annulment precludes remarriage and I wouldn't be eligible even if it were allowed. Inability to procreate is (or should be, anyway) a bar to marriage. That's what the Church believed and taught, so that's what I believe.

There is a value in Holy Chastity, though it's taken me awhile to see it. Thank goodness God allows us time to grow into his gifts! Chastity allows a person to focus more wholly on God. I wish the Church would preach more on this subject.

VOL: What was the attraction in going to Rome?

G: This was a decision that I made independently of the gender issue. After years of reading and study, I believed that Rome had the most complete and comprehensive explanation of the Christian life in all of its fullness.

VOL: What do VOL readers need to know to help them either deal with their own feelings about themselves sexually ... or about what they think about gender and sexual issues as they are argued in the media?

G: I think that people need several items to deal constructively with gender issues. First -- education. It's difficult to draw any sort of serious conclusions about gender issues without reading unbiased sources. I'd encourage interested parties to read the studies done on gender issues that were cited in your first article. They are enlightening.

We also need to be familiar with what the church says about sex, gender and the body. I would encourage everyone to read and study the Bible and the Church Fathers to better understand the Theology of the Body and how it pertains to gender.

Third, I strongly recommend a heaping dose of love and humility. People with gender disorders carry a heavy cross. Christians should be working to make that cross lighter, not heavier. Let's not forget that we are all sinners and we all struggle with doing right and making good decisions. Gender deviant individuals are no different in this regard. Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.

VOL: In your opinion, what should be the Church's stance on this issue?

G: There's no magic answer, but I think that the Catholic Church has the correct theological understanding of the issue. Accept that gender dysphoria is a 'disorder' (that gender deviant individuals are not ordered correctly) and be merciful to those who carry this disorder. Encourage individuals to live in conformity with their biological sex wherever possible, but realize that there are some people for whom this is impossible. Be charitable to those people and accept that they, too, are made in the image of Christ.

VOL: Thank you, G.

My original interview with M can be read here:
https://www.virtueonline.org/guess-whos-coming-lunch-i-meet-and-interview-transgendered-anglican-lady

FOOTNOTE: I will not tolerate any G bashing comments. If you write something derogatory or defamatory, you will be deleted immediately.

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