Chloe Cole in her AirBnb in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 21, 2022. A self-described “former trans kid,” she de-transitioned after undergoing years of puberty blockers and an irreversible double mastectomy at the age of 15. / Edie Heipel/CNA
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 24, 2022 / 06:30 am (CNA).
An 18-year-old woman is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful voices against transitioning children at a moment in which most politicians and media outlets lack the courage to speak out.
Chloe Cole is a self-described “former trans kid” who de-transitioned after undergoing years of puberty blockers and an irreversible double mastectomy at the age of 15.
Cole is now traveling across the country to share her story and raise the alarm about gender transition procedures on children, a growing trend she calls “child abuse” and “medical experimentation.”
“I’m planning to keep doing this until it stops,” Cole told CNA Wednesday in an interview.
Cole, who grew up in Northern California, was just 11 years old when she was first exposed to gender ideology through online platforms.
“I kind of lacked female role models growing up,” Cole told CNA, citing body image issues, early exposure to LGBTQ content, and unmonitored internet access as factors that propelled her struggle with gender dysphoria.
Cole was also diagnosed with autism and ADHD at age 7, which she says are “common comorbidities with gender dysphoria.”
The link between autism and gender dysphoria has been scientifically studied and reported on by independent journalist Abigail Shrier, suggesting that children on the spectrum are particularly vulnerable to the pull of transgenderism.
A ‘false’ choice
It didn’t take long before medical professionals fast-tracked Cole into medically transitioning from a girl into a boy, a trend she says has exploded among children.
Cole said Wednesday that her parents “were scared and desperate for answers” when she first told them she was a boy and that their decision to sign off on transitioning her was “forced under extreme duress.”
“The gender clinic presented my parents with the classic false dichotomy: Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son?” Cole said.
Cole was put on puberty blockers and testosterone at just 13 years old, which caused a ripple of negative side effects including unbearable hot flashes and what she describes as an endless feeling of boredom.
“For me it was pretty bad, like they were making my whole body really itchy. There were certain days that I couldn’t even wear sweaters or long pants in cold weather,” Cole told CNA.
“I felt like there was this feeling of boredom that just wouldn’t go away. I would just wake up waiting for the next best thing,” she remembered.
Cole continues to experience joint pain from weakened bone density — a known side effect of puberty blockers — as well as certain allergies and ongoing urinary tract infection symptoms.
But all of this pales in comparison to the double mastectomy Cole underwent at age 15, which permanently removed both of her breasts.
“The name of the operation I went under was ‘double mastectomy with nipple grafts,’ meaning they make cuts under the breast and take out the tissue underneath,” she explained.
Cole added that the surgeons also surgically removed her nipples and grafted them back on in a “more masculine position” — creating serious side effects that she will deal with for the rest of her life.
“They severed the nerve endings. The sensation is never the same again and there are permanent changes in pigmentation — it might not ever look the same,” she explained.
Cole says she was given the impression from doctors that her grafts would mostly be healed by a year and a half after the surgery, but she still has complications more than two years later.
“The top layer of skin is not really healing over. It emits this fluid constantly so I have to wear non-adhesive bandages over them all the time.”
But what Cole most regrets is how “the beauty of motherhood” was stripped from her at an age when she wasn’t able to fully comprehend the loss.
“At 15, I wasn’t really thinking. I was a kid, just trying to fit in — not thinking about the possibility of becoming a parent.”
Cole told CNA she went through a long period of grief as she came to regret the mastectomy and de-transitioned in 2021 — a realization that catalyzed after she took a psychology class studying the attachment between mothers and infants.
The study, which examined rhesus monkeys, observed the importance of mother-child bonding through breastfeeding.
“At the time when I was taking this class, I was 11 months post-op. I realized what I took away from myself because I was allowed to make this decision when I was barely in my mid-teens,” Cole said.
“I’ll never have the experience, or even the option, of breastfeeding my children and bonding with them in that way.”
‘Adults need to take a stand’
Cole has no plans to back down from advocating against gender transitions for children and hopes her story opens the eyes of parents of children struggling with gender dysphoria as well as lawmakers who have remained silent.
“Spend time with your kids, keep them off technology for as long as possible. Let them know they’re loved and stay in touch with them. If they’re on the internet, monitor their usage,” she urged parents.
“Adults need to take a stand,” Cole emphasized. “Complacency is what led to this happening to me in the first place.”
“If you look away for even a second, it’s very contagious,” Cole said, speaking of what she calls “skewed information” that medical professionals are sharing on the internet.
Cole referenced Dr. Sidhbh Gallagher, a gender-affirming surgeon from Miami who advertises transition procedures to minors on her Tik-Tok account.
“There’s definitely a money incentive, especially for those who are doing gender-affirming surgeries,” Cole said. “Surgeons get the most money out of this.”
So far, Cole has traveled to five states across the U.S. — including her home state of California, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. — to bear witness to lawmakers about her experience and urge them to take a stand.
In September, Cole testified against California Democrat Scott Weiner’s proposed S.B. 107, which would make the state a “sanctuary” for children to obtain irreversible gender surgeries without parental consent.
Alliance Defending Freedom and over 40 other parental rights organizations wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom protesting the bill.
“This legislation allows the ‘taking of a child’ to California (without parental knowledge or consent) to obtain gender transition procedures — including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries — and impermissibly gives California courts the power to strip custody from lawful and well-intentioned parents,” ADF urged.
Cole says that for the most part, politicians on both sides of the aisle have “just shied away from the issue.”
“Mostly they get into petty fights over it, but nothing has really been done about it,” she said.
CNA interviewed Cole the day after she testified outside Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in favor of a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, that would criminalize gender procedures on minors.
Greene’s Protect Children’s Innocence Act, H.R. 8731, would make it a Class C felony to perform gender transition procedures — including mastectomies, phalloplasties, and vaginoplasties — on minors. The bill is being supported by over 40 other Republican lawmakers.
“No child deserves to suffer under the knife of a gender-affirming surgeon,” Cole said in a press conference Sept. 21 unveiling the bill. “America’s children — all children — deserve better.”
“Chloe’s story is so important,” Taylor-Greene told CNA. “We’re so proud of her for being brave enough to come out and tell it, but her story isn’t the only one — there are many beyond her. If anyone is pushing this on children, they’re on the wrong side of history, and we will show that to be true.”
Suzanne Satterfield, a parental-rights activist based in Virginia, spent extensive time with Cole over her trip to D.C. to testify against child transitions.
“Chloe’s a ray of sunshine in the darkness that is looming over the children of today,” Satterfield said to CNA.
“She could easily stay out of the public’s eye and live a much different life. But she has a big heart and has chosen to sound the alarm of the irreversible damage being done to children at the hands of ‘trusted health care providers.’”
When asked if she was happy, Cole’s face broke into a smile as she nodded vigorously.
“I’m a lot happier today,” she said, her eyes shining.
“Doing what I’m doing now is giving me a purpose. That’s something that I’ve been seeking for quite a while.”