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California ex-trans teen is national right-wing media’s darling


LOS ANGELES – Lawmakers in Sacramento as well as Florida, Ohio and Louisiana have heard the heartbreaking testimony of a Central Valley, California teenager who says she regrets beginning a gender transition at age 12. And that regret has been seized upon by anti-trans forces all around the world, eager to retell and retweet her harrowing story. 

Her name is Chloe Cole. After weeks of exchanging tweets with this reporter, she agreed to  an interview, via email. 

From trans teen to anti-trans activist

“I just want my tits back, Dawn,” Cole tweeted. “But that ain’t happening.”

Cole says she sought and was prescribed puberty blockers at age 13. That was in February 2018. She kept getting those Lupron injections for about a year, she says. Then, a month later, she says she started testosterone injections, for about two years, followed by top surgery at age 15. 

About a year post-op, Cole says she realized for the first-time that she may want to breast-feed someday, which was obviously impossible following her double mastectomy.

At 17, Cole says she stopped using the first name “Leo,” detransitioned, and resumed life as a girl. 

Starting in May, Cole has been traveling the country to testify against medical transition. She’s been on Fox News, too, denouncing gender-affirming care, because for her, she says it was a mistake. 

“I don’t feel like I understood all the ramifications that came with any of the medical decisions I was making,” Cole has said, over and over, in her testimony, claiming she wasn’t prepared for the difficult recovery or her inability to nurse a child. “I will never be able to do that as a mother.”

Now 18, Cole has become the poster child for far-right politicians and religious conservatives working to ban these lifesaving medical treatments and to prosecute the doctors and parents who support their children’s transitions, for child abuse. She calls herself a “former trans kid.”

“The gender dysphoria gets better every day through accepting the biological reality that while being a man may have its advantages, appropriating the stereotypes of men will never allow me to become one,” said Cole in an email Saturday. The Los Angeles Blade asked her if that means she does not consider trans men to be men. “Trans men are not biological males, so definitionally, they are not men. They still have XX chromosomes, they use hormones and surgery to approximate the experience. This does not mean that we shouldn’t treat these individuals with respect, but it does mean that there is a difference that we need to recognize as a society.” 

Despite Cole’s choice of words, matching that of many anti-trans activists, federal judges, the ACLU and now the Associated Press have made it clear that the transphobic terms, “biological male,” “biological female” and “biological sex” are nonsense words, coined during the North Carolina bathroom bill days specifically to oppress trans people.

Chloe Cole and MTG

Republican Congresswoman and anti-trans activist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) retweeted one of Cole’s most popular social media posts Thursday, showing a trans boy before and after transition and top surgery. The boy’s name, age and plastic surgeon were not disclosed; Cole told The Blade the photo belonged to a surgeon who she said used it to advertise. Greene tweeted: “This child is not old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, or watch an R rated movie, but they let her choose to have them cut her breast off.”

Greene did so in support of her latest attempt to have even one bill she’s sponsored passed by the House of Representatives. Greene’s H.R. 8731, dubbed the “Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” would make it a felony to perform any gender-affirming care on a minor, gives minors an avenue to sue such providers, and prohibits the use of federal funds for gender-affirming care or for health insurance covering such care. And just for good measure, if someone undocumented is caught providing that care, they’d be deported. 

“While I don’t agree with everything any politician says or does,” Cole told the Blade in an email, “I find her bill that protects children from the harm that I endured is a cause I can get behind.” Cole added that she would delete the post showing the post-op trans boy if their family requests it.

Greene’s brand of anti-trans animus is the kind of thing that prompted State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to introduce Senate Bill 107. As the Blade has reported, state senators sent Gov. Newsom that bill on Sept. 1, to make California a sanctuary state for children seeking gender-affirming healthcare. Before the vote, Cole was front and center to once again tell her story. 

“I didn’t even know detransitioners existed until I was one,” Cole told state senators. “The worst part about my transition would be the long-term health effects that I didn’t knowingly consent to at the time. I developed urinary tract issues during my transition that seem to have gotten worse since my detransition. I have been getting blood clots in my urine and have an inability to fully empty my bladder. Because my reproductive system was still developing while I was on testosterone, the overall function of it is completely unknown. I have irreversible changes, and I may face complications for the rest of my life. I was failed by modern medicine.” 

Cole has stuck to that script since May, with minor adjustments. The Blade asked her if she has someone else writing or helping her write her testimony. 

“My own comments on my lived experience are more valuable than anything a PR rep could ever come up with,” said Cole. “The insinuation that a young woman can’t write a coherent testimony is extremely misogynistic.” 

When informed her response was not a denial, Cole replied in a follow-up email: “My public comments are all my words, the insinuation apparent in that line of questioning (that I need someone to write for me or that I’m some sort of puppet) is ridiculously misogynistic.”

When she sat down with Florida’s anti-trans Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo in July, her story changed dramatically. She speculated that her four years on testosterone might endanger her ability to become a mother and medical transition might also put her at risk for cancer

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to fully carry a child, and I might be at increased risk for certain cancers, mainly cervical cancer,” Cole said in a video tweeted by Ladapo. 

She may be right: Two doctors at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary who studied trans men attempting to get pregnant last year determined that testosterone “can cause abnormal urogenital development in a female fetus,” which is why trans men are advised to stop injecting T prior to trying to conceive a child. But other researchers say they have insufficient data to determine the cervical cancer risk for people who transitioned from female to male. 

Where are her parents?

If you’re reading this and wondering, where are Cole’s parents in all this? She says they’re staying out of the media spotlight on purpose. The Blade sought an interview with Cole’s parents, but she declined to make them available, citing fear of reprisal from advocates for transgender youth and their allies. 

“My parents don’t want the spotlight due to the hostility and danger induced by many trans rights activists on the internet,” she told the Blade. “For an example: I received a threat from an unidentified nonbinary individual [Friday] via Twitter threatening to scrape out my eyes with bowls.”

Cole’s horrible encounter is certainly something trans people and their allies can understand, given the growing level of hate and violence visited upon them in increasing numbers each year. When the Blade asked her, “Why would your parents want to avoid the spotlight yet leave you unprotected?” and subsequently asked about her relationship with her mother and father, Cole declined to respond. 

They would have had to consent to every step of her medical transition, including when she was 15 and underwent top surgery.

When asked if she blamed her parents, or holds them responsible for consenting to her treatments and surgery, she answered: No. 

“My parents received intense social pressure and pressure from medical professionals,” she wrote. “They were told the classic among child transition stories, ‘Would you like a dead daughter or a live son?’ I don’t blame them for this, they were misinformed, like many parents put in this situation. None of us were aware of the word ‘detransition’ until it happened to me.”

Cole’s LibsOfTikTok Connection

Another fan of Cole’s is the infamous LibsOfTikTok, aka Chaya Raichik, who wrote in a rant on her Substack that gender-affirming care is “mutilating the body.” Cole follows Raichik and she follows Cole, who tweeted last week that she hoped Raichik won’t “back down from exposing what happens at these ‘gender clinics.’” She called it “one of the most important issues of my generation.”

Last month, Raichik published and tweeted recordings and screenshots that she claimed proved surgeons were performing hysterectomies, double mastectomies and orchiectomies on children at The Center for Gender Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Both hospitals were subsequently targeted with a series of bomb threats, as recently as Friday. Children’s hospitals in other cities have also been targeted as a result of Raichik’s campaign, which has resulted in temporary bans on some of her social media platforms.

But it’s a campaign based on lies; The factchecking team at Politifact determined Raichik’s viral claim was false. While there have been exceptions for some 15, 16 and 17-year-olds, most surgeons won’t operate on anyone younger than 18. 

The Blade asked Cole for her opinion on LibsOfTikTok, Kiwifarms, and the threats against hospitals providing gender-affirming care and their targeting of libraries hosting drag queen story hours. “I condemn any/all violence,” she said. “Reporting on Children’s Hospitals hurting children is not violence.” 

Does Cole consider Raichik a journalist, since she used the word “reporting?” 

“Chaya is a Twitter user that posts about many things,” she wrote. “One of the things she decides to post about is the atrocities that are committed in pediatric gender clinics. She just happens to do it better than most of the mainstream media. As far as incitement of violence? The only reliable metric for that would be SCOTUS precedent and based on precedent like Brandenberg v. Ohio, calling this an incitement of violence would get you laughed out of court.” 

In citing Brandenberg, Cole is referencing a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969 that decided a state law violated the First Amendment right to free speech of a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. 

Cole went on to say, “I condemn violence completely, I’ve condemned the violence against children’s hospitals numerous times via Twitter and I’ve condemned the violence that Boston Children’s Hospital perpetuates against gender confused kids like the administration of puberty blockers with common, awful side effects, the removal of healthy breast tissue, and castration.”

As the Blade has reported, both Boston Children’s and Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. have issued statements denying what Cole and Raichik are claiming, and explaining that the surgeries are only performed with consent and as part of a long-term gender transition evaluation that includes mental health professionals. 

The Blade reached out to Raichik Saturday evening for comment, but did not receive a response as of press time. As for Kiwifarms, which as the Blade reported last week, is no longer hosted by Cloudflare after repeatedly encouraging followers to target trans women and even Rep. Greene with doxxing and swatting, Cole said: I know very little about Kiwifarms but if they’re doing stuff like that, they should stop.”

As for the protests against libraries that host drag queen story hours, Cole again said: “I condemn any/all violence,” But in her next sentence she echoed what LIbsofTikTok, The Proud Boys, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other anti-drag activists have said: “The hyper-sexualization innate in most drag performances is not age appropriate for children.” 

Does she oppose drag kings, too? “I’ve never really seen much on drag kings,” she said. “However, I would suggest keeping children away from themes and events that originate in bars and nightclubs.”

Unanswered questions

Since her emergence on the public scene in April, trans adults have been digging into Cole’s claims. Some note the fact that surgery takes years of planning and preparation and is not done on a whim or under pressure. There is rampant speculation that her travel has been paid for by anti-LGBTQ activists; Cole denied that on Twitter, noting, “The only people who have bought and sold me—and my body—are the ‘gender specialists’ and surgeons that sold my family and I a lie.” The Blade asked her to elaborate on this question as part of our email exchange. “My trips are self-funded with help from crowdfunding via Twitter tips,” she said. 

Some wonder about the total silence from and invisibility of her parents, while others question whether she is being coached, based on how she appears eloquent when reading her prepared testimony, but speaks haltingly and struggles to answer direct questions. 

Another example can be seen following her May testimony before Ohio lawmakers: Cole alternates between being unable to answer questions coherently, then responding with apparently rehearsed answers posed by Republican lawmakers. 

Still others have doubted her account because of medical inconsistencies in her treatment and subsequent health conditions. Endocrinologists generally do not prescribe puberty blockers and testosterone simultaneously; typically, someone would get puberty blockers prior to experiencing puberty, and testosterone would be prescribed thereafter. Cole tweeted that her doctor did not follow the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care. 

Another question is whether the tweets sent from @choocole are even composed by Chloe Cole herself. The Twitter account she was using as recently as July, @puddingpandan, appears to be no longer active. 

Cole said that’s not the case. “I just changed my Twitter handle from @puddingpandan to @ChooCole because I thought it was irrelevant to my message,” she wrote. “I’ve used the same Twitter account from the start.”

She repurposed a familiar line when asked who composes her tweets: “The insinuation that a young woman can’t write a coherent tweet is extremely misogynistic.”

Post-transition regret is incredibly rare

“Regardless of what anyone’s perception of a double mastectomy is…  Cosmetic surgery that rids a young female of her unique ability to feed her future children is not something a child is old enough to fully grasp the importance of,” Cole said. “It’s an unethical practice that must be stopped.”

There’s no denying Cole is suffering as a result of what she describes as her realization, two years ago, that she’d never breastfeed. But the facts, whatever they are in Cole’s case, aren’t as important as the reality, which is that hers is still just one case, heartbreaking as it may be; Cole is an outlier compared to the vast majority of positive outcomes, as cited by journalist Zack Ford. 

Last year, Ford reported fewer than 5% of people who undergo a gender transition experience regret it later, and as NBC News has reported, detransitions occurred in 0.4% of respondents who said they realized, like Cole, that transition was not right for them. Of course, gender transition cannot fix underlying mental health or personality issues. 

Cole maintains expecting a child to understand the real life consequences of gender surgeries is unconscionable. 

“Justifying the idea that a minor can consent to something like this is akin to the idea that a minor can consent to sex, tobacco or alcohol consumption, or any legally binding documents,” she wrote. “It is not okay no matter what lens you view it through. In California, my home state, a minor can’t even enter a tanning booth. It’s unethical to perform these surgeries on minors.”

But that’s why parents are made responsible for signing consent decrees. She had this to say in response:

“Parents should not be able to consent for a minor in this situation, especially when they face extreme external pressures to consent,” said Cole. “Signing away the ability to have kids, feed kids, achieve orgasm when they are old enough to get into a sexual relationship, etc., is an extremely personal decision that needs to be made at the age of majority/fully developed mental faculties.”

Whatever their reasons, no matter their number, Cole and other detransitioners do deserve support, understanding and counseling, even as some become political pawns for anti-trans forces. For example, Cole frequently tweets at and is retweeted by staffers in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office. She tags Democratic opponents of their Republican boss and denounces Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, which the DeSantis administration has banned. Which is interesting, since her Kaiser medical coverage reportedly paid for her own medical transition, including her surgery.

But in being politically active and denouncing gender-affirming care, detransitioners and their supporters can cause deliberate harm to trans and nonbinary youth, something that may be rooted in the suffering they have experienced or are experiencing.  

In mid-July, Cole started a GoFundMe called Imperfectly Me, aimed at providing a platform for detransitioners. As of press time, it is far short of its $15,000 goal, with a total of $5.00 donated by one anonymous person.

Cole requested The Blade not provide a link to this fund while she works to complete her website with the same name and same goal of supporting detransitioners.





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