A man born with a heart defect says taking estrogen and testosterone-blocker pills in a desire to become female almost killed him.
David Bacon of Monterey County, California, was told by his doctors in 2017 that he had two weeks to live if he didn’t quit the cross-sex hormones he started taking in 2014, he said.
“Hormone replacement therapy almost killed me,” Bacon, who is now 31, told The Epoch Times. “My experience was very traumatic and life-threatening.”
Before he was prescribed the drugs, Bacon said two therapists advised him he could be at risk of suicide if he didn’t transition his gender.
Bacon suffers from pulmonary atresia, a birth defect of the heart where the valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the lungs doesn’t form, making it difficult for blood to flow to the lungs to pick up and carry oxygen to the body.
He has had nine open-heart surgeries to implant heart valves made of bovine and porcine animal tissue, which become clogged or wear out over time.
Early in his childhood, Bacon developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the surgeries. When he was 13, he woke up in the middle of an operation, which only compounded his fear and anxiety, he said.
“It was very traumatic. I already had PTSD, so that just added more to it,” he said. “I’m one of the very few people who can say ‘I’ve seen the inside of my heart.’”
As a child, Bacon spent a lot of time outdoors as a “straight-up” boy doing what boys do.
“I jumped off the trees. I rode bicycles,” he said. “I played in the mud, threw rocks at cars and had a BB gun … I was being a boy, picking on my little sister and my older sister.”
At school, his medical condition kept him from doing strenuous activities and playing certain sports. He was homeschooled until fifth grade and given an Individualized Education Plan for children with disabilities when he entered public school.
“I had a learning curve,” he said. “My attention span wasn’t there all the time.”
Bacon said his mom always suspected he might have some form of autism or ADHD, but he was never tested for it.
In fifth grade, Bacon began attending public school in Georgia.
He recalls coming home from school one day feeling out of sorts with his gender. At the dinner table that evening, Bacon wanted to tell his family but couldn’t find the courage.
“I was sitting there contemplating if I should tell my parents or not. I wasn’t sure, so I just decided to go to my room after dinner,” he said.
His mom knew something was wrong and went to check on him.
“I told her I didn’t want to be a boy,” Bacon said. “Her face literally had this shock.”
Then he asked her to take him to the doctor to get puberty blockers.
“Her jaw dropped to the floor,” he said.
Bacon remembers that his mom prayed a lot, went to church, read her Bible, and sought counseling. She didn’t encourage his gender transition.
“She just thought it was a phase,” Bacon said.
Although his mom coaxed him to get involved in social activities, Bacon struggled with anxiety and recalls feeling awkward.
“I didn’t have a great social circle as a kid,” he said. “I was ostracizing myself.”
The next year, Bacon went to three different middle schools. He attended public school for the first part of sixth grade in Georgia before his family moved to Southern California. In seventh grade, he moved to Monterey County in the northern part of the state, and the following year he moved to a different school in the same district.
When he reached puberty at about 12, Bacon became even more confused about his sexual orientation.
“Something didn’t feel right with my body. Something felt off. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was just puberty,” he said.
Some boys in middle school bullied him and called him gay for chumming around with girls and a male friend who ended up being gay.
“I got beat up,” he said. “I vividly remember middle school. It was terrible. Being bullied and called gay planted the seed in my head that maybe I was gay.”
The bullying continued throughout high school, Bacon said.
He remembers seeing rainbow-colored signs that read “Be Kind” posted at school and Gay-Straight Alliance announcements encouraging respect for gay and lesbian students.
Bacon was attracted to females in middle school and dated a girl in his freshman year of high school but stopped seeing her amid the bullying.
“I ended up not dating anyone in my 11th and 12th grade year. I broke up with the girl that I was dating,” he said. “I think it might have been because of all the bullying. I didn’t know what I was at the time, and I told her it was a personal matter as to why I was breaking up with her.”
The bullying affected Bacon’s ability to focus on schoolwork. His grade point average was so low in his senior year that he dropped out, opting for a home study program. He graduated in 2009.
“My GPA skyrocketed, so the bullying was a problem for me,” he said.
‘I Wanted to Be Female’
Bacon identified as “queer,” but as time went on, he began dressing in more feminine clothes, and by the time he was 18, he was committed to the idea of a full gender transition.
“I wanted to be female. I wanted to have breasts. I wanted to get my penis removed. I wanted to be female for the rest of my life at that time,” he said. “I really felt like I was actually a female. I did fully feel that I was a woman.”
He began taking estrogen and testosterone blockers in November 2014. He was 23.
Bacon never told his father or his two sisters about his gender confusion until he was an adult.
“My dad never knew. My mother never told my father,” he said.
About a year-and-a-half into hormone replacement therapy, Bacon went to the Planned Parenthood office in Salinas, California, to meet with a surgical team of gender transition specialists.
“I apparently met their requirements for breast implants and bottom surgery,” he said.
Bacon had grown the breast formations needed for implants.
“I was 23 when they started to really show. I could wear an A cup,” he said. “By the time I was 26, I was wearing a B cup when they stopped growing.”
He compared the Planned Parenthood experience to “a build-a-bear workshop” where he was expected to create a female version of himself, he said.
“They had about 40 different breast types and sizes to select,” he said. “It was very weird.”
The specialists also discussed bottom surgery.
“They were also talking about removing my penis,” he said. “They call it penis inversion. They even showed me the Gender Unicorn chart (pdf). They showed me 27 pictures of what my vagina could look like.”
But when the specialists left the room, a nurse stayed behind to explain more details about the surgeries. She told him at the time more than 90 percent of male-to-female transgender patients usually kept their male genitals, and that surgically created “vaginas” made from penis inversions, or vaginoplasty, weren’t without medical complications.
“They have this process called dilating, where you have to put something up there four to five times a day to keep it from closing because it’s literally just an open wound,” Bacon said.
After that discussion, Bacon decided against any surgeries—top or bottom.
In 2015, Bacon legally changed his first name and attended Monterey Peninsula College as Lisa Bacon.
However, with his medical problems and preoccupation with gender, he lost focus in college and dropped out.
“I didn’t really have a foundation of what I wanted to do,” he said.
Bacon began “hooking up” with men he met on gay dating sites while living as a woman, an experience he deeply regrets.
“I looked like a female head to toe. I had long hair too. I had it pulled off to the side with a little headband and everything—eyelashes and all. I played the part,” he said.
Bacon, then 24, identified himself as a “trans woman.”
He got into a relationship with a man and moved with him to Washington. But, by the time he arrived in the Seattle area, the man had been evicted from his apartment and the pair were homeless. They slept in Bacon’s truck for several months.
“I lived on the streets and in my truck. I was homeless and worked two jobs,” Bacon said.
The relationship lasted about eight months.
“I really wanted to continue the relationship with him, but he didn’t want to continue, so he left me,” Bacon said. “I felt like my heart was broken, and ever since then, I haven’t dated anybody.”
Bacon stayed in Washington for about a month after the breakup before calling his mom to ask if he could move back home. He had just turned 25.
“I lost everything. I had sold my vehicle, had nothing. I lived at home on the couch and still do,” he said.
Once home, Bacon began to have doubts about transitioning.
“I started to realize something was off. Something didn’t seem right,” he said.
His parents suggested he get a third opinion from a private psychologist, so he called his health insurance provider for referrals. He specifically asked to see a psychologist, not a psychiatrist.
“The psychiatrists are the ones pushing gender ideology and prescriptions,” he said. “The psychologist helped me discover who I am.”
Throughout the talk therapy sessions, he wondered whether transitioning was the right choice for him.
The therapist suggested he might be autistic.
“I was never really gender dysphoric,” he said.
The psychologist also told him pornography was likely one of the factors that led him to transition.
“I used to watch that kind of stuff all the time. Not anymore. I dropped porn from my life,” he said. “I haven’t watched porn in two years now, going on ten.”
As a child, he spent countless hours online experimenting with HTML code, and eventually found his way to the dark web.
“I found my way into it somehow. I don’t know how I found it, but I did,” he said. “It’s something I should never have done … because the stuff on there was not good for a child to see.”
Moment of Truth
When he was 27, Bacon’s health took a turn for the worse, and he went to the University of California–San Francisco cardiology department for tests.
The results were devastating. The doctors told him he would die unless he stopped taking hormone-replacement drugs immediately.
“I was living as a woman right up until the doctors told me I had two weeks to live,” he said. “I chose life.”
Bacon had his ninth open-heart surgery years earlier than expected, because the hormone replacement drugs had clogged and damaged the valves in his heart.
“It was told my valves were completely destroyed,” he said. “That’s what really shook me. That’s what really woke me up.”
Aside from estrogen harming his heart, the testosterone blocker caused irreversible damage, he said.
“It shrunk my testicles,” he said. “I’m afraid I might be sterile.”
The withdrawal from estrogen was like going through puberty again, he said.
“I had bone aches,” he said. “I had muscle density increasing because my testosterone was increased, so I literally went through puberty again as an adult and it was twice as bad.”
Rebuilding and Reflecting
Although Bacon has many regrets about his past, he doesn’t dwell on it. He threw out every piece of women’s clothing he had.
“I got it out of my house so I wouldn’t be attracted to it anymore. It was a life-changing decision, and it was for the better,” he said.
Bacon believes the “subliminal messaging” of the “Be Kind” sign at school planted the seed for his gender confusion.
“There was that seed, that ‘Be Kind’” sign,” he said. “It had an LGBTQ flag behind it, the whole rainbow thing, and it was right there at the front when you walked into some of these schools. I believe that’s what happened to me, and I don’t want that to happen to any other child.”
To Bacon, transgender theory is exactly that: a theory.
“A male cannot turn himself into a female and have a baby. That’s what it boils down to in my eyes, and a female cannot truly become a male,” he said.
Looking back, Bacon said, it’s concerning to him he even knew about puberty blockers as a boy.
“I was duped as a kid,” he said. “I don’t even know why I fell for it. I literally fell for it. Everything that I took, I was an adult. I made the decision as an adult, and I feel stupid for it. But, you know, we all make mistakes. We’re only human.”
Since fully detransitioning, Bacon calls himself “ex-transgender,” rather than a detransitioner.
He applauds the growing number of female detransitioners for speaking out and urges more male detransitioners to step forward.
“It takes courage to do this,” he said. “Men are afraid to speak out. Some of them are still kind of scared. I understand it’s not easy because of all the hatred.”
Bacon is disappointed some activists in the LGBT community have dismissed the voices of detransitioners.
“I felt like I was being indoctrinated in a way, ostracized from certain groups after I left, and then dehumanized,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking, all this stuff that they throw at us.”
Bacon urges more tolerance and respect on all sides of the transgender debate.
“It doesn’t mean that I agree with their ideology. It just means that I’m respecting them as human beings. We need to start treating each other with more respect,” he said.
The transgender movement has a loud voice on social media but represents a small segment of society that is disproportionate to reality, Bacon said.
“The rest of the world doesn’t even agree that humans can change their sex,” he said. “We can beat this psychological warfare because that’s what I believe it is: a massive culture war.”
Learning to Cope
Bacon still suffers from social anxiety and feels “a little agitated and irritated” in large groups of people.
“It’s not them. It’s just me,” he said.
But lately, Bacon has been producing a podcast called The Bacon Project—and the experience, he said, has been therapeutic.
Today, he has a small circle of friends—some who knew him before he transitioned—who accept him for who he is.
“I have a platonic relationship with a gay man. He admitted that he was gay in high school. I was just accepting him for who he was,” Bacon said. “We’re just friends.”
Bacon said he is ready to date women as the man he always was.
“I’m straight as an arrow,” he said of his sexual orientation.
He has changed his legal name back to David and reverted his driver’s license and other identification back to his birth name.
Bacon has been taking online courses to prepare himself for his eventual return to community college.
“I honestly thought I was brain dead half the time when I was going to college because I was on medications. It was brain fog most of the time,” he said.
But, since quitting hormone replacement drugs, Bacon feels clear-headed.
“That’s when I started questioning everything,” he said.
Bacon now exercises to feel better and reshape his body to look more masculine. He has grown some facial hair and has taken supplements to boost his testosterone levels.
He has worked diligently to rebuild his life and live a healthier lifestyle. He got a job and bought a new car. But, unfortunately, due to recent medical complications, he had to leave his job.
“I worked at a pizza joint. I make the dough and I cut the dough. I just fell in love with making pizza. It became an art to me,” he said. “I liked helping people, and one way to bring people smiles and joy is a pizza.”
Recovering from the transgender experience has left Bacon with a fresh outlook on life, and a renewed interest in his Christian faith.
“Guardian angels have been protecting me my entire life. I truly believe that. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m trying to follow his principles and guidance. I understand I’m not perfect and I will still make mistakes along this journey,” he said.
“I believe in God. There is an order to the universe. That’s why we have male and female when it comes to animals and humans. I believe in the natural order of things.”
Running for School Board
Bacon ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education in November.
During his campaign, he discovered the school district passed a resolution calling for the recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride Month at the pre-kindergarten level.
“When I saw that, I was like, ‘No, no, no—not an elementary school, not a middle school,’” he said.
Pre-kindergarten is not the time to introduce sexuality and gender, Bacon said.
“That’s the time you teach them the ABCs and the 1-2-3s,” he said. “That’s what they need to learn, not ‘all of you can be a unicorn today,’ or ‘you can be a woman today, or ‘you can go dress up in the closet today.’ No, let’s not do that. Let’s just give them paint, give them toys, give them letters, give them things to learn to be social.”
Bacon’s political platform hinged on pushing back against the teaching of gender theory in schools and bringing back traditional values to the classroom.
While some argue there may be a case for LGBT awareness in high school, Bacon disagrees.
“I still wholeheartedly believe it shouldn’t be in high school, but there’s an argument to be made and I understand that. … I’d say no, until you’re an adult … until you’re 18,” he said.
Public schools are putting LGBT and transgender rights above those of parents, he said.
“They’re breaking the education code and parental rights laws that we have written in the California constitution and written in my county’s constitution,” he said. “I want to protect parental rights because if we don’t protect them now, we won’t have parental rights in the future.”