Shock: CNN Features Former Transgender in Jenner Coverage

On Tuesday's CNN Newsroom, Carol Costello surprisingly interviewed a man who "transitioned" to being a woman, but reversed the cosmetic process after eight years. Costello respectfully interviewed Walt Heyer, even as she touted how Bruce Jenner "true to form...is breaking records – becoming the fastest Twitter account to reach one million followers," after he made his debut as "Caitlyn." [video below]

The anchor did wonder whether society now is "more accepting and, perhaps, Caitlyn Jenner's experience will be better than yours was." When Heyer spotlighted how "41 percent of transgenders will attempt suicide," she countered that there are "still a lot of people who don't support her choice," and played up conservative Erick Erickson's reaction to the Jenner news:

CAROL COSTELLO: Erick Erickson – I'm going to read you something that he posted on his blog, Red State, this morning. He said, 'When a 65-year-old former Olympian tells you that he has decided, after all these years, that he is a she, and his new name...is going to be one fashionable among 17-year-old girls and his own son's girlfriend, your first reaction should be not to congratulate the man on finally finding his authentic self, but steering him into therapy.'

So I would suppose when you hear things like that – and you're going through this difficult time – that can really hurt, and it can cause you to be in severe pain.

Costello led into the segment with her guest by noting how "it's all over the newsstands – the New York Post and the New York Daily News – 'call me Caitlyn.' By now, most of you have seen this Vanity Fair cover and the world debut of Caitlyn Jenner." A on-screen graphic hyped the "stunning debut." After playing clips of NBC's Jimmy Fallon and TBS's Conan O'Brien cracking jokes about the news, the CNN journalist introduced Heyer by noting how he "spent eight years living life as a woman. He is now back to living life as a man – working as an author and contributor at the conservative blog TheFederalist.com."

The anchor held up the front page of New York Daily News featuring Jenner's Vanity Fair cover photo and asked, "So when you look at the cover – when you look at Caitlyn Jenner, what goes through your mind with your experience?" Heyer acknowledged that "this is, really, the most exciting time in a transgender's life," but added that "from my own personal experience, this doesn't always last, though. It's sort of like...going down to the bar and you're having a good time and you drink it up good. And then, you know, you wake up with a hangover."

Costello followed up by zeroing on in a "recent Swedish study – it found only 2.2 percent of trans-gendered male and  females suffered from sex change regret. But that doesn't make your experience any less important. So tell me what happened in your life." Heyer explained that he had similar personal background as Jenner:

WALT HEYER, AUTHOR & CONTRIBUTOR, THEFEDERALIST.COM: I started out as a trans-gendered child at a young age – five – and went through life struggling with gender identity disorder; and, you know, got married; had children. My life really has a lot of mirrors that reflect the same life as Jenner's having. I just transitioned at the age of 42, after going through a divorce.

And so, you know, what I realized was after living that way for eight years, and studying psychology, [is] that no one actually changes gender. The surgeons can make it look like you changed genders, but the fact of the matter is, it's all cosmetic surgery. There's really no actual gender change. And so, when you come to that realization, then, all of a sudden, you feel – I did – I felt like I had been duped, tricked – that it wasn't really real. I wasn't really a woman. I looked like one.

The CNN anchor pointed out that "Caitlyn Jenner probably would not agree with you, because she is feeling free." She then asked her "are people more accepting" question. Heyer replied with his 41 percent statistic, which led to Costello's shot at Erickson.

The full transcript of Carol Costello's interview of Walt Heyer from Tuesday's CNN Newsroom:

CAROL COSTELLO:  It's all over the newsstands – the New York Post and the New York Daily News – 'call me Caitlyn.' By now, most of you have seen this Vanity Fair cover and the world debut of Caitlyn Jenner.

JIMMY FALLON (from NBC's The Tonight Show): I think the most shocking thing is it's only June, and she's already in bathing suit shape. So, you know, that's- (audience laughs)

CONAN O'BRIEN (from TBS's Conan): She is historic, because Caitlyn's the first woman from that family to appear on a magazine cover fully clothed (audience laughs) – that has never – she's actually covered up and tastefully dressed..

COSTELLO: Seriously though, true to form, Jenner is breaking records – becoming the fastest Twitter account to reach one million followers. Her response: 'Another Jenner world record, and at 65? Who'da thought! Humbled and honored to have reached one million followers in four hours. Thank you for your support.'

BRUCE JENNER (voice-over): Bruce always had to tell a lie. He was always living that lie. Caitlyn doesn't have any secrets. As soon a the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I'm free.

COSTELLO: She's 'free.' My next guest, though, says he felt that same freedom, but today, he calls his decision to transition to a woman the biggest mistake of his life. Walt Heyer spent eight years living life as a woman. He is now back to living life as a man – working as an author and contributor at the conservative blog TheFederalist.com. Walt, thank you so much for being with me this morning. I appreciate it.

WALT HEYER, AUTHOR & CONTRIBUTOR, THEFEDERALIST.COM: Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. So when you look at the cover – when you look at Caitlyn Jenner, what goes through your mind with your experience?

HEYER: Well, you know, this is, really, the most exciting time in a trans-gender's life.  I mean, this is the – this is the debut, the – all the things that you'd hoped and thought about are coming about for Jenner. And – and so, this is the time to live it up and enjoy it.

I just know from the e-mails that I get to my website, and from my own personal experience, this doesn't always last, though. It's sort of like – you know, going down to the bar and you're having a good time and you drink it up good. And then, you know, you wake up with a hangover.

COSTELLO: Well, I will say we looked for – for studies to find some percentage of people who did change their mind like you did. We found a recent Swedish study – it found only 2.2 percent of trans-gendered male and  females suffered from sex change regret. But that doesn't make your experience any less important. So tell me what happened in your life.

HEYER: Yeah. You know, you come to this point where you're – I started out as a trans-gendered child at a young age – five – and went through life struggling with gender identity disorder; and, you know, got married; had children. My life really has a lot of mirrors that reflect the same life as Jenner's having. I just transitioned at the age of 42, after going through a divorce.

And so, you know, what I realized was after living that way for eight years, and studying psychology, [is] that no one actually changes gender. The surgeons can make it look like you changed genders, but the fact of the matter is, it's all cosmetic surgery. There's really no actual gender change. And so, when you come to that realization, then, all of a sudden, you feel – I did – I felt like I had been duped, tricked – that it wasn't really real. I wasn't really a woman. I looked like one.

COSTELLO: Of course, Caitlyn Jenner probably would not agree with you, because she is feeling free. Is it because times are different now than when you went through the change? Are people more accepting and, perhaps, Caitlyn Jenner's experience will be better than yours was?

HEYER: Well, I said all the very same things that Caitlyn is saying. I felt like I was free. I felt like the world was lifted from my shoulders. It was very exciting. I ended up having a good career and job. And so, I don't think that times have changed all that much. I do think that when we look at regret, one of the things that we don't talk about much is the fact that 41 percent of trans-genders will attempt suicide, and those 41 percent should actually be included in the ones who regret changing genders. People who are happy about what they do won't attempt suicide, and 41 percent of them do. So I would suggest that-

COSTELLO: Well – now, I will say that for all of the support that Caitlyn Jenner is finding today, there – there's still a lot of people who don't support her choice – right?

Erick Erickson – I'm going to read you something that he posted on his blog, Red State, this morning. He said, 'When a 65-year-old former Olympian tells you that he has decided, after all these years, that he is a she, and his new name is going to be one – is going to be one fashionable among 17-year-old girls and his own son's girlfriend, your first reaction should be not to congratulate the man on finally finding his authentic self, but steering him into therapy.'

So I would suppose when you hear things like that – and you're going through this difficult time – that can really hurt, and it can cause you to be in severe pain.

HEYER: You know, I don't know about Bruce. I know that – you know, when you're going through this, like I did in my life, nothing that anybody could say caused me any pain. People could say anything they wanted. But I was in such a state of euphoria and excitement that nothing really affected me. It was my own realization that I had not really changed genders, and when all the – the adoration and all the excitement had worn off after eight years, and you look back and start looking at the old pictures and realize – wow, this is really not all that good. And, you know, you just come to – you have to come to that place on your own. I don't think things that people say really had any effect on me – and people said some pretty horrible things – and people still say horrible things about me because I went back. (Costello laughs) So, you know, you have to, kind of, be pretty thick-skinned, and not worry about what other people say. And I don't think Bruce really gives a rip about what people say about him.

COSTELLO: I hope not. Walt Heyer, thank you so much for your insight. I really appreciate it.

Culture/Society Transgender Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Sexuality CNN CNN Newsroom Video Carol Costello Bruce Jenner
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