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De-transitioner: ‘Warning’ on gender surgery
On Thursday, her 19th birthday, Chloe Cole testified to Congress with a “final warning” that medical treatments to change the gender of confused children is horrific. Cole, who was given surgery as a teenager to become male and soon regretted it, said what she needed most was therapy, not a scalpel. Here is what she told lawmakers:
My name is Chloe Cole and I am a de-transitioner.
Another way to put that would be: I used to believe that I was born in the wrong body and the adults in my life, whom I trusted, affirmed my belief, and this caused me lifelong, irreversible harm.
I speak to you today as a victim of one of the biggest medical scandals in the history of the United States of America.
I speak to you in the hope that you will have the courage to bring the scandal to an end, and ensure that other vulnerable teenagers, children and young adults don’t go through what I went through.
Deceit & coercion
At the age of 12, I began to experience what my medical team would later diagnose as gender dysphoria.
I was well into an early puberty, and I was very uncomfortable with the changes that were happening to my body. I was intimidated by male attention.
And when I told my parents that I felt like a boy, in retrospect, all I meant was that I hated puberty, that I wanted this newfound sexual tension to go away.
I looked up to my brothers a little bit more than I did to my sisters.
I came out as transgender in a letter I sent on the dining room table.
My parents were immediately concerned.
They felt like they needed to get outside help from medical professionals.
But this proved to be a mistake.
It immediately set our entire family down a path of ideologically motivated deceit and coercion.
The general specialist I was taken to see told my parents that I needed to be put on puberty-blocking drugs right away.
They asked my parents a simple question: Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living transgender son?
The choice was enough for my parents to let their guard down, and in retrospect, I can’t blame them.
This is the moment that we all became victims of so-called gender-affirming care.
I was fast-tracked onto puberty blockers and then testosterone.
The resulting menopausal-like hot flashes made focusing on school impossible.
I still get joint pains and weird pops in my back.
But they were far worse when I was on the blockers.
A month later, when I was 13, I had my first testosterone injection.
It has caused permanent changes in my body: My voice will forever be deeper, my jawline sharper, my nose longer, my bone structure permanently masculinized, my Adam’s apple more prominent, my fertility unknown.
I look in the mirror sometimes, and I feel like a monster.
I had a double mastectomy at 15.
They tested my amputated breasts for cancer.
That was cancer-free, of course; I was perfectly healthy.
There is nothing wrong with my still-developing body, or my breasts other than that, as an insecure teenage girl, I felt awkward about it.
After my breasts were taken away from me, the tissue was incinerated — before I was able to legally drive.
I had a huge part of my future womanhood taken from me.
I will never be able to breastfeed.
I struggle to look at myself in the mirror at times.
I still struggle to this day with sexual dysfunction.
And I have massive scars across my chest and the skin grafts that they used, that they took of my nipples, are weeping fluid today, and they’re grafted into a more masculine positioning, they said.
After surgery, my grades in school plummeted.
Everything that I went through did nothing to address the underlying mental health issues that I had.
And my doctors with their theories on gender that all my problems would go away as soon as I was surgically transformed into something that vaguely resembled a boy — their theories were wrong.
The drugs and surgeries changed my body, but they did not and could not change the basic reality that I am, and forever will be, a female.
Depths of despair
When my specialists first told my parents they could have a dead daughter or a live transgender son, I wasn’t suicidal.
I was a happy child who struggled because she was different.
However at 16, after my surgery, I did become suicidal.
I’m doing better now, but my parents almost got the dead daughter promised to them by my doctors.
My doctor had almost created the very nightmare they said they were trying to avoid.
So what message do I want to bring to American teenagers and their families?
I didn’t need to be lied to.
I needed compassion.
I needed to be loved.
I needed to be given therapy that helped me work through my issues, not affirmed my delusion that by transforming into a boy, it would solve all my problems.
We need to stop telling 12-year-olds that they were born wrong, that they are right to reject their own bodies and feel uncomfortable with their own skin.
We need to stop telling children that puberty is an option, that they can choose what kind of puberty they will go through, just like they can choose what clothes to wear or what music to listen to.
Puberty is a rite of passage to adulthood, not a disease to be mitigated.
Today, I should be at home with my family celebrating my 19th birthday.
Instead, I’m making a desperate plea to my elected representatives.
Learn the lessons from other medical scandals, like the opioid crisis.
Recognize that doctors are human, too, and sometimes they are wrong.
My childhood was ruined along with thousands of de-transitioners that I know through our networks.
This needs to stop. You alone can stop it.
Enough children have already been victimized by this barbaric pseudoscience.
Please let me be your final warning.