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Perry Desmond

Perry Desmond (1936) transitioned as a transwoman. After converting to Christianity, he became convinced God wanted to him to go back to living as a man in 1975. He advertised his testimony, was called a "pioneer" in the creation of Exodus, and became a missionary in St. Louis. He co-authored his autobiography, Perry, in 1978. Perry died in 1984 at the age of just 48.

Response

I looked for Perry's description of his parents to see whether they fit the classic distant father, overbearing mother narrative. He description of his father is very brief, just a paragraph on page 15, described as often away working and had a alcohol problem that scared Perry. His mother absolutely forbid his cross dressing behavior; he doesn't seem to be close with her. But he admired his great aunt who sheltered his feminine feelings. She was a devout Catholic but Perry was not. One of Perry's uncle performed drag.

As a child, Perry disliked boys and played with girls. His peers made fun of him saying he was a girl and gay. One of his bullies later introduced him to gay sex. This is the first time Perry indicates any sexual interest in men. 

Because of his gender and sexuality, Perry felt uncomfortable at home. He fled to the New Orleans French Quarter where he presented as a full time drag queen and made money as a prostitute. However, at his mother's easily convinced him to "become a man." He married and joined the Navy. By 21, Perry had been kicked out of two colleges, discharged from the Navy, and divorced for being attracted to men.  Immediately, Perry returned to living as a woman and did so until 1975. Perry drifted from lover to lover, job to job, and drug to drug. She began taking hormones, silicone implants off the black market, and SRS. She was a successful business women, starting several salons, an occult shop, and lastly a church.

After so many broken romances, estrangement from family and death of his parents, and spiritual emptiness, Perry was a wreck and attempted suicide. A friend brought her to church and she converted immediately! Her new church told her that as a Christian, she needed to live as a man again. She readily complied and completely transitioned back. He remained celibate afterward.

Completely missing from Perry's life story is any mention of his gender identity. He never says that he thought was a girl, female, woman, or that he desired to become one. He never says that he dislikes being a man or that he hates his male body. We do not know whether Perry best identified as transexual. Perhaps we could better identify Perry as a secondary transexual who typically regret transition.

Maybe he identified more as a drag queen and a male than a heterosexual woman. He enjoyed the flamboyant nature of drag so much that he lived that way full time. Her physical transition was more about external appearance than internal, gender identity. This is supported by a lot of circumstantial evidence: He loved acting and attention since being a small child and loved receiving attention as a male. Perry is drawn to New Orleans by gay men and especially the prospect of performing on stage and flourishes in the fame she receives. Drag queens are virtually exclusively gay males. Bigender people sometimes take hormones in order to appear more feminine while not caring about whether it makes them feel feminine; Perry emphasizes how hormones help him pass and never says whether they actually made him feel good. Perry procrastinated getting SRS for ten years (p90); I have never heard of a transitioned transexual do that. The only reason she gives for going through with it is feeling more confident at the time. Even after SRS when she is passing perfectly, she calls herself a man (p109) implying she identifies that way and wants this known. Just before her conversion, her business takes a strong hit as an employee leaves and tries to steal her public respect. Her conversion begins with the pastor spotlighting her in front of everyone and they all pray for her. After converting, he becomes a minor celebrity, far greater than her status running a threatened business. Perry hands out tracts on the street, organizes rallies, sells his book, tours churches to speak, hosts a radio show, and a television channel. Perry received far more fame as cisgender than trans. That's a strange path for a drag queen, but not unreasonable.

However, I could be completely wrong. All we have is circumstantial evidence of his behavior, not his thoughts and feelings. If Perry underwent a change in gender identity, he never says so. Considering the ex-trans pattern, it's extremely likely that Perry would have returned to his trans identity as others did. He died just nine years after deciding to live as a man which is not enough time. Nine years after Jerry Leach made his decision, 1998, he believed God had completely healed him. Within the next nine years, he would completely reverse his opinion believing healing is impossible. We do know he never becomes attracted to women (p130). Since gender defenders claim perverted orientation is also perverted gender identity, if his orientation did not change into the accepted standard then his gender identity did not change either.

Links

Perry: A Transformed Transexual - Desmond's autobiography and main source of information

Zagria's biography

Desmond's testimony online

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