Perry Desmond was a former transsexual whose testimony has been shared throughout the world. He went Home to be with the Lord on June 26, 1984. Read his powerful and moving story told by himself in order to understand how God is able to save and transform even transsexual people if they repent and believe in the Gospel of Grace
“My appearance became increasingly feminine as the months passed. Silicone injections added to my feminine good looks. But I was miserable inside.”
My story begins in a small Louisiana town on August 15, 1936, when I was born. My father was a river boat pilot and drank a lot. I was always afraid of him, as he would come home late at night, yelling and breaking things. I began to build a fantasy world all my own. I would dream about all the beautiful women in the movies Mother took me to see on weekends. I wanted to be a girl, but I was a boy.
Mother always worked. I used to go to her room when she was away and put on her dresses, earrings, lipstick and perfume. One day she came home early and caught me. “Don’t ever let me catch you doing this again!” she yelled. She whipped me, screaming, “You’re a boy, you’re a boy!” She ripped the earrings off and threw them on the dressing table. I ran from the house crying.
I was afraid to play with boys. They called me “sissy” and “Momma’s boy”. School was the worst time of all. The other boys didn’t want me around and called me ugly names. There were a few girls I could play with, but more and more, I played by myself, with my movie idols.
Our town was near New Orleans and we had a Mardi Gras children’s carnival each year. Everyone got into costume for the parade. One year when Mother was at work, I put on a skirt and blouse and dressed as a gypsy girl. No one knew who I was. I felt very confident behind my disguise. Everyone thought I was a girl, and I felt this was the “real me”. I felt a strange power flowing inside me. I was to feel it many times in the years to come, each time I put on women’s clothing.
At last I graduated from high school. At 17, I was one of the younger members of my freshman class at Louisiana State University. Then, for the first time in my life, I met another person like myself. Lee was in my modern dance class. We started running around together right away. Soon he had introduced me to almost every homosexual on campus. It no longer mattered that straight people laughed and did mean things to me. I now had a group of people who accepted me as I was. It wasn’t long before I was part of the gay community in Baton Rouge. I began living with Ralph, 20 years my senior. He used to take me to a bar in New Orleans. I was still only 17, so we’d sneak in the back passageway. I’d never seen men dancing with each other before. I was shocked down to my socks, but also thrilled with the dark atmosphere, pulsing music and crowds of gay men. “This is for me,” I told Ralph. “Someday, I’ll work in a place like this.”
When I was 18, I quit college and headed for New Orleans. I worked as a waiter at a place which was a haven for male and female prostitution. They let me wear face makeup and lipstick. I soon became adept at male prostitution. I moved in with a wealthy tailor and started wearing women’s clothes every day. One morning, I opened the front door and my mother was standing there. She was shocked at my appearance. She begged me to come home. I decided to cut my hair, buy a pair of leather boots, and—of all things — I joined the Navy. While on leave one spring, I started dating a high school friend. We got married, but the honeymoon was a disaster. The marriage only lasted a short while. We were later divorced. I confessed to a psychiatrist that I wanted to start living as a woman and I was discharged within weeks from the service.
I got a job as a waiter at a gay bar in New Orleans, and was right back where I started. I started a male prostitute ring and got another job as a chorus dancer in a drag show. That eventually led into another job as a female impersonator. I was billed as “The South’s Most Beautiful Boy”. I was soon doing one night club after another, with lots of drinking in between.
One day I heard my Dad was seriously ill. I phoned home and Mother said he was acting irrational. Dad had gone to a tent revival two weeks before and now he would talk about Jesus and read the Bible all day. “He keeps saying that Jesus loves him,” she went on. “I’m afraid. I think he’s gone crazy.” I worried about Dad, but something happened about this time which soon made me forget all about him. I saw an old friend of mine on the street. He looked like a beautiful woman. I was shocked, and asked him many questions. He gave me the name of his doctor who was giving him treatments. I contacted him the next day and immediately began a series of weekly hormone shots. My appearance became increasingly feminine as the months passed. Silicone injections in my breasts added to my feminine good looks.
But I was still miserable inside. I opened a group of occult shops called The Age of Aquarius on Bourbon Street and money poured in from the day it opened. I decided that a sex-change operation was the answer to my feelings of dissatisfaction and phoned a plastic surgeon in New York. We set an appointment for the first stage of surgery —castration. I’ll never forget the antiseptic smell of the operating room. The surgery was done with local anesthetic, but even the drugs injected with 6-inch needles couldn’t kill the dreadful pain of the operation. It was the most dreadful experience of my life.
My lover at the time was drinking heavier than ever. Two days after I was able to get out of bed, Wayne and I had the biggest knockdown, drag-out fight ever. That night after he stumbled out the door, I swallowed an entire bottle of tranquilizers. I should have died, but only succeeded in knocking myself out for 24 hours. It was the lowest point in my life.
Three days later, my phone rang. It was Wayne, calling from the mental institution where he’d gone for treatment, due to his terrible drug and alcohol abuse. “Perry, something’s happened!” he fairly shouted. “I have to talk to you — today!” I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw him. He was smiling, absolutely radiant. When I ’d last seen him, he looked white and dead inside, eyes staring ahead vacantly. What he told me was the most shocking thing I’d ever heard. “Perry, I’m saved. I’ve got Jesus in my heart. I feel wonderful!” He witnessed to me every chance he got for the next year. Finally I agreed to go to church with him. Everything was strange to me, but I felt something I had never experienced in my life. These people really loved each other. I could feel it.
Things started changing inside of me. When I went to work, it all seemed so drab and lifeless. Going back to my house, I decided to read all the Christian literature Wayne had given me over the months. I dug it out and spent the day pouring over it. I decided to visit the Baptist church’s prayer meeting, next to the laundromat I used. During the service, the Lord touched me and I started to cry. Afterwards, I walked up to the minister and said through my tears, “I want Jesus. I want to be saved.” I briefly told him my story. A look of amazement spread over his face. He suggested he come and talk with me at my house several days later, which he did. After explaining the Gospel to me in detail, he prayed the sinner’s prayer with me. He eventually left, but I stayed on my knees, confessing all my sins to God. When I got up, I felt like someone had scrubbed me from the inside. I felt clean and pure for the first time in my life.
That was in February, 1974. I went to church every time the door opened. I literally read my Bible day and night. One day I asked my Bible teacher if I had to start dressing like a man again. He showed me Deut. 22:5. “Perry, no matter what the doctors have added or taken away, you’ll always be a man. That’s how God created you.” It hit me like a thunderbolt. I had been living a lie. Now God wanted me to live the truth. At first I thought I could never do it. But after praying about it, a great peace came over me. I went out and bought men’s clothing — for the first time in six years. Soon I was used to my new attire and the great adventure of ministering for Jesus began.
Invitations to share my story began pouring in. In the years since then, I have traveled thousands of miles, sharing what God has done in my life. I still can’t believe how much He has changed me. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not just dreaming. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know Who holds the future. His Name is Jesus, and He’s everything to me.
His entire story can be found in the book, Perry: A Transformed Transsexual. Distributed by Love In Action P. O. Box 753307, Memphis, TN 38175-3307;901/542-0250