Chloe Cole: Anyone Trying to Hide Kids’ Gender Identity Is ‘Plain Perverted’
There aren’t a lot of 19-year-olds who give up their birthdays to go to Congress and plead for kids’ lives. But Chloe Cole isn’t your average teenager. The face of the detransitioner movement has come into her own by walking a painful path she prays no one else follows. Now, after years of suffering, self-doubt, and irreversible surgery, Chloe is a living warning to parents that the scars of trying to be someone else never fully heal.
“I look in the mirror sometimes, and I feel like a monster,” she told the roomful of elected leaders last month. Chloe talked emotionally about the double mastectomy that doctors encouraged at just 15. “After my breasts were taken away from me, the tissue was incinerated — before I was able to legally drive.” It was the loss of that piece of herself that drove the nightmare home. “Every single night after every bath, after every shower, I would have to look down at these huge wounds that were on my chest,” she remembered. Even the skin grafts that they “took of my nipples” haunted her. The masculine replacements that doctors made “are weeping fluid today,” she admitted to the hushed room of leaders.
These are the horrors that Chloe travels the world to share. Now, with the shock that the number of U.S. gender reassignment surgeries has tripled, her cause is even more urgent. She wants people to know that she was never suicidal before her transition. That changed almost instantly. “After my surgery, I did become suicidal,” Cole admits. “I’m doing better now, but my parents almost got the dead daughter promised to them by my doctors.”
She was referring to the intimidation tactics used by a shocking number of clinics on moms and dads who are concerned about letting their children move forward with cross-sex hormones and mutilation. “I mean, really, they were just giving me what I, as the child, wanted rather than stopping [me] and letting me be a kid and thinking about what it might have been that I actually needed — which was psychotherapy and just being given a chance to just grow up,” Chloe told former Congressman Jody Hice on Friday’s “Washington Watch.”
And the doctors “expected my parents to go along with all of this. They told them that it was going to be life or death for me, that I would become suicidal if I were not on these interventions. And really, what it came down to was they said that to manipulate my parents.”
But as Chloe explains it, she was just a small-town girl in rural California who was on the verge of puberty and uncomfortable with what was happening to her body. “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.” She started reading things online that if she didn’t feel like a girl, she probably wasn’t. In a letter that she left on the dining room table, she told her parents that she wanted to be a boy. “They had no idea what to do,” she recalls in a lengthy profile piece for The Telegraph.
At therapy, the “experts” — like so many of her teachers — ignored years of evidence that Chloe was most likely autistic. She says she never felt “super close” to her parents, and “I must have had some sort of attachment issue. I started at five or six to reject physical affection.” Despite those underlying issues, doctors urged Chloe’s mom and dad to consent to puberty blockers at just 13.
“They told them that blood was going to be on their hands … and that they only had those two choices. No other choices were presented to us. They never told them about the possibility that I would resist or detransition or of me regretting these procedures. They said that it was more likely that I that I would regret going through puberty than I ever would being on these interventions,” Cole explained to Hice.
Two years later, at the tender age of 15, Chloe made the decision that she has regretted ever since: “I had a double mastectomy, meaning that my breasts had been removed permanently.” After months of physical pain and trauma, she realized she “regretted all of these interventions, that I was too young to be making decisions like this, and that by doing all of this, I was losing parts of my adulthood before I could even call myself a woman, and that one day I wanted to be able to have kids of my own.”
Sitting in a psychology class about parenting and family barely a year later, Cole had what she now considers “a huge wake-up call.” “As I listened, I reali[zed] that I had a maternal instinct, that one day I’d like to have kids of my own, but that the effects of being prescribed puberty blockers and testosterone during my transition might mean I couldn’t.”
But these weren’t things she was thinking of at 15 when she had her body irreversibly altered. “But sitting in that class, it hurt me really deeply to reali[ze] how a part of me had been taken away. … It shattered my heart into a million pieces.” She talks about spending a lot of time in bed, “unable to get up, crying silently. I didn’t know what life would look like from there and who I would be, but I just knew I couldn’t take any more testosterone shots.”
What came next was a long and difficult chapter marked by indifferent doctors and the open betrayal of the same LGBT movement that had pushed her toward this mess. “I actually got a really aggressive response from the transgender community and the people who had celebrated me the most through my transition,” Chloe told Hice, “[They] … were now turning their back on me, and they were saying the cruelest things to me. And even my doctors — I wasn’t getting any support from them. I wasn’t getting any help as to how to go off of the hormones or any of the complications that I was having from these procedures. It was an incredibly lonely experience, so much more difficult than transitioning in the first place.”
Trying to figure it “all out on my own,” Chloe started stumbling on other people with similar horror stories — people who felt damaged and regretted it. “And while on one hand, it was kind of comforting knowing that I wasn’t the only one going through this,” it was also, she explained, “incredibly painful and terrifying that I’m not the only one who has been hurt by this, that there are many people out there — the amount of which we’ll never know. … And I wanted to be able to advocate for other people, especially the other kids who have been in this situation — and to prevent it from happening ever again.”
When Hice characterizes what happened to Chloe as abuse, she embraces the term. “That’s absolutely what it is at every single level. I was failed by these adults — these people who call themselves doctors, who are supposed to help my parents in raising me and getting me care.”
That’s why she’s adamant that parents do more digging about what’s really going on. “… [A] good percentage of these people — if not all of them — have had some sort of co-morbidity issue, whether it be like a learning disorder, such as ADHD or autism, or like a cluster B personality disorder, depression, social anxiety. Or, overwhelmingly, many of them have a history of trauma, whether it be of sexual abuse or assault or rape or a parental or family trauma. And it’s hard to know how that might play into the way that a person sees themselves in relation to their sex.”
The idea that schools want to hide these issues or keep a child’s gender identity a secret is, in her opinion, “plain perverted.” “ …[I]t’s incredibly concerning that these schools think that they can control what the child is exposed to more than the parent. I mean, back when I was in school, when I was in middle and high school, we had like waivers for parents to sign off for sex ed. But they don’t get a choice on this?”
So where should parents start? What would have helped Chloe when she was struggling?
“The best thing to do is to … not go the path of having these children go on permanent interventions that will affect them for the rest of their lives,” she insisted. “It’s important to speak to them directly and openly about where these feelings are coming from. What is it that makes them feel like they’re not enough as their own sex? What is influencing them to think that they can just opt out of either being a boy or a girl and go the other path? And to remember to be compassionate to them, to let them know that they are loved. That they are perfect as they are. That the issue is not their body or the way that they look or were born, but the way that they see it.”
As frightening as the idea may be to parents, moms and dads are the ones best equipped to guide their children through this. That means taking control over the negative voices that are corrupting their view of themselves. As Chloe concluded:
“[T]ry to remove the influence that is making them think otherwise—whether it be from school, whether they’re learning it in class from their peers, or from the internet, and to respond accordingly. Like … in the case of it being from social media or the internet, you might have to take away their devices and to replace it with something else like a sport or encouraging them to go out and develop a hobby. Or if it’s coming from school, then you’ll have to be more involved in your child’s education to see what is going on in the classroom, to look at the curriculum. And you may have to move schools, you may have to end up homeschooling them, which is not an option for every parent.
“It is incredibly difficult. But I think in the very end it’s worth it, because that gives you full control over what your child is being exposed to and what they’re taught.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.