How would you counsel Chloe Cole about her gender confusion?
Recently, I read an article by Chloe Cole on the Substack page Reality’s Last Stand titled, In My Own Words: Responding to the Forbes Hit-Piece. In this article, Ms. Cole recounts her experience as a gender confused youth. I recommend all my readers take a moment to read her testimony. In a word, her testimony is tragic! In this article, I let Chloe Cole speak her truth and I ask my gender affirming readers how they would have counseled Chloe if she were one of their students, member of a youth program, client, friend of a child, or daughter. To me, Chloe’s story represents the consequences of uncritical gender affirming care (transitioning) for gender confused youth. Our youth, Catholic or otherwise, deserve better.
Her Story: In Her Own Words
I began identifying as a boy at 12 years old (without medical intervention). Immediately after expressing this cross-sex identity, I was fast-tracked into medical transition. At 13 I was prescribed puberty blockers and testosterone, and at 15 went under the knife for a double mastectomy. When I was 16, about 11 months post-op, I came to the realization that I had been lead down a horrific path of medical mistreatment, and I now speak openly about my darkest days to help educate families, lawmakers, and everyday citizens about the dangers of transitioning children.
You read that right. At age 12, Chloe identified as a boy. By 13 she started puberty blockers and testosterone. At age 15, Chloe had her breasts removed. At age 15! For clarification, a 15-year-old cannot get a tattoo, smoke, rent a car, vote, or see a rated R movie. But they can (with parental consent) receive irreversible gender reassignment surgery. Where were her parents during all this time? In the interview with Dawn Ennis, she states her parents were pressured to go along with it or risk her committing suicide. They were told to choose between “a dead daughter or a live son.”
Affirm or Else…
Moreover, many who endorse the affirm method offer the same warning as that given by Chloe’s doctor—affirm Chloe or she may die. Now, suicide is no trivial matter. It is VERY serious. Parents do all they can to ensure their children’s safety. Some parents even affirm their children in the hopes that doing so will keep their child safe. But does it? Does affirmation really keep children safe? Not according to the long-term comprehensive study Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden. The study states:
The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8–62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9–8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0–3.9). Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results. Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.
Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.
Therefore, according to this 30-year study, transition surgery (the study calls it sex reassignment) does not lessen the possibility of suicide but rather increases it. Clearly, given the information from a 30-year comprehensive study, affirmation (especially affirmation that encourages transition in youth) should cease. Not only are lives in danger, but physical health as well. Infertility, failure to experience sexual pleasure, and actual permanent physical scars play a role in the dangers of affirmative care. Chloe Cole’s story is not unique. Case in point: The Tavistock Centre.
The Tavistock Centre
Once the leading center for gender affirming care for youth in the UK, The Tavistock Centre closes its doors in spring of 2023. Why? An investigative report into the center by Dr. Hillary Cass revealed that many young patients experience accelerated affirmative care towards transition. One patient, Keira Bel, recalled her experience at Tavistock:
The consequences of what happened to me have been profound: possible infertility, loss of my breasts and inability to breastfeed, atrophied genitals, a permanently changed voice, facial hair. When I was seen at the Tavistock clinic, I had so many issues that it was comforting to think I really had only one that needed solving: I was a male in a female body. But it was the job of the professionals to consider all my co-morbidities, not just to affirm my naïve hope that everything could be solved with hormones and surgery.
Keira’s story (and others like it) has caused the authorities in the UK to reevaluate how they address gender confusion. Furthermore, according to a September 2nd article from the the New York Post, other countries followed suit.
In March, France’s National Academy of Medicine advised caution on gender affirming care for young people. In February, Sweden — a progressive country previously on the cutting edge of providing medical services to transgender youth — also reversed course. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare updated its guidelines for treating trans youth, scaling back the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, saying there hasn’t been enough research on their efficacy or side effects.
Clearly, Europe sees the writing on the wall in terms of affirmative care. In this case, the US needs to follow suit. One wonders how many irreversibly damaged youth it will take before authorities in the US also reevaluate. Given President Joe Biden’s executive order from June, 2022, this seems unlikely.
How Would You Counsel Chloe Cole?
In conclusion, I ask again: how would you counsel Chloe Cole, especially after reading the information provided in this article? Would you do what others did and affirm her? I think, given the severity of the stakes, extreme caution is needed. The rush to affirm often leads to irreversible physical and psychological damage. Furthermore, the Swedish study shows that transition treatments do not lessen the risk for suicide, it increases the possibility. So, the fear experienced by those in the affirm or… camp is not backed up by long-term studies. Tavistock’s former Clinical Director of Adult and Adolescent Services Marcus Evans sums up the current state of research when he stated to the New York Post:
There is no research that justifies our current approaches. We’re in the dark, and we’ve just been putting children on a medical conveyor belt,” he said. “It’s as if the whole Trust has gone off into the area of political activism, and Hilary Cass is pulling it back. It’s absolutely extraordinary.
Again, knowing what you know now, how would you counsel Chloe Cole? Also, how should the Catholic Church counsel young people like Chloe Cole?
If You Know Someone in Crisis
Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 (para ayuda en español, llame al 988). You can also contact the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services provide 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.