Teen who had breasts removed says health system lacks 'standards of care' for detransitioners
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — A detransitioner suing medical providers who performed sex-change procedures on her as a minor lamented Friday the lack of support she has received from the healthcare system as she struggles with the realities of her bodily mutilation.
Chloe Cole, an 18-year-old who regrets undergoing a double mastectomy at 15 in response to gender dysphoria, spoke during a panel discussion titled "A Time for Courage" at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in the suburbs of the nation's capital.
The discussion, which also featured a former college All-American swimmer who competed against a biological male at the NCAA Championships last year, focused on the experiences of two women who have had very different adverse impacts of the gender ideology being pushed in mainstream culture.
"I'm somebody who transitioned and detransitioned while I was still a minor," Cole explained. "I started experiencing gender dysphoria when I was about 12 years old, and I started socially transitioning, … first by changing my name, the way I dressed, the way I cut my hair and my mannerisms, and then eventually, I got diagnosed with gender dysphoria."
"And at 13, I was put on puberty blockers and testosterone. And I had a double mastectomy at 15, just after my sophomore year of high school, and I stopped transitioning at 16 years old," Cole said.
When asked if her health insurance covered the expensive procedures, Cole replied, "I'm from California, and by law, insurance companies are supposed to cover every single step of the transition process pretty much."
However, Cole responded with a "no" when asked if health insurance companies in California were forced to cover her detransition procedures.
"I've reached out to the team of medical professionals who helped me transition, and I haven't gotten any help with my detransition. I've even tried to figure out how to go through the motions all by myself," she added.
"I'm having a lot of complications from the blockers, the cross-sex hormones and the surgery and I haven't gotten help with any of those," she stated. "There's no standards of care for people like me."
Cole outlined her goal to "stop childhood transition and to improve the standard of care for dysphoric patients of all ages."
"There's very little evidence to suggest that gender transitions are actually successful. And the standard for a successful transition is 'well, the patient didn't commit suicide,' which is a really low standard of care," Cole said.
"We have no idea how many people detransition, how many of them commit suicide and for what reasons because it's all skewed."
Cole attributed her gender transition to social media use as an 11-year-old girl, which exacerbated her poor body image.
"I was pretty vulnerable to this because I had really bad body image issues from a young age," she explained.
Having started puberty at 8 or 9, Cole said a combination of poor body image issues and looking on idealized images of women's bodies online was "awful" for her.
Cole said she first experienced distress about her gender after "seeing a lot of posts that were in video game communities" featuring LGBT individuals around her age.
"A lot of these girls who identified as trans, they were quite like me," she told the crowd.
Specifically, the girls were similar to her in that "they were very tomboyish from a young age." Cole reported that "a lot of them were like on the autistic side and I felt like I could relate to them in a way and it really touched me."
"Eventually after being exposed to this stuff for so long and so young, I started to wonder if 'maybe this has something to do with me' and 'maybe I'm not a girl,'" she detailed.
Panel moderator Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project noted that Lupron, a drug commonly used as a puberty blocker, was given to sex offenders to chemically castrate them.
"We stopped doing that because it was deemed too cruel for use in sex offenders," Cole said. "If it's too cruel to use in sex offenders, why are we using it on kids?"
Critics of gender transition procedures for minors point to the long-term effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones as a reason why such practices should be banned.
The American College of Pediatricians, which characterizes itself as a "national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children," has identified the side effects of puberty blockers as "osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, cognitive impairment and, when combined with cross-sex hormones, sterility."
The ACP lists the long-term impacts of cross-sex hormones as "increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers across their lifespan."
Last month, Cole sued the medical professionals who treated her as she experienced gender dysphoria. She announced her intention to file legal action last year. Cole claims medical professionals assured her that "the distress she experienced because of her gender dysphoria would resolve as she transitioned." However, Cole claims the "distress always came back worse" after the "initial relief" that materialized after "each phase of transition."
Cole contends that her double mastectomy has caused her to experience suicidal thoughts and a deteriorating state of mental health with "deep emotional wounds, severe regrets, and distrust for the medical system."
States that have banned gender transition surgeries and some or all other gender transition procedures on minors are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.
In an earlier speech at CPAC, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., announced her intention to introduce the Protect Children's Innocence Act, which would ban gender transition procedures for minors at the federal level. She introduced the measure in the previous 117th Congress but never came up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will have better after Republicans took control of the House following the November 2022 midterm election but won't stand much of a chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate should it pass the lower chamber.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org