Detransitioners Say They’re Gaining Ground in National Gender Ideology Debate

Detransitioners Say They’re Gaining Ground in National Gender Ideology Debate

Attorney Erin Friday (C) with detransitioners at the Detrans Awareness rally in Sacramento, Calif., on March 14, 2024. (Courtesy of Protect Kids California)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

3/19/2024

Updated: 3/19/2024

Three former gender dysphoric women who had their healthy breasts removed recently shared their stories of regret on the steps of California’s Capitol building in Sacramento in their fight to ban gender transition surgeries and the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones on children.
The detransitioners—Chloe Cole of California, Laura Becker of Wisconsin, and Camille Kiefel of Oregon—who once identified as trans men but have since re-embraced their natural femininity, told of their suffering at the hands of “gender-affirming” doctors and warned others against gender interventions.
Ms. Cole, who was prescribed testosterone and had her breasts surgically removed at 15, told a group of supporters at the Detrans Awareness rally on March 14 that “the landscape has changed,” allowing detransitioners to advocate for themselves and be heard nationwide.
“At 16 years old, a year after my surgery, I didn’t know what to call myself. I didn’t know that the word ‘detransitioner’ existed, and yet I knew that I was one,” she said. “This community picks me up when the gender industry kicks me down.”
Last month, Ms. Cole went to Tennessee to advocate for a proposed “detransition bill of rights” and to Arizona to support similar legislation to make health insurers pay for or provide detransition treatments.
“We’ve finally been given the megaphone to help individuals out of their mistakes, to help other people from falling into the same trauma and hardships that we have endured,” she said.
Arizona is considering Senate Bill 1511, authored by state Sen. Janae Shamp, which would require health insurers that cover gender transition procedures to also cover detransition treatments.
“These bills are an opportunity for unification. Blue and red states are beginning to unite and help all of us,” Ms. Cole said.
Despite making inroads, detransitioners still face steep challenges, she said.
The detransition process remains “a mystery,” as far as how to wean patients off cross-sex hormones, reverse gender surgeries, and treat “the complex mental trauma” that detransitioners face, Ms. Cole said.
Chloe Cole sits at the California state capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Chloe Cole sits at the California state capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The treatments that do exist are “largely experimental and exploratory,” and the same doctors who prescribe so-called “gender-affirming” drugs and surgeries may ignore the post-transition health issues that detransitioners experience, dismissing them as part of the “gender journey,” she said.
“They have no sensitivity to how that inflammatory language would affect people like me. Their ideology clouds their judgment,” Ms. Cole said. “We need real help. We have no insurance codes, which means that the difference between transition and detransition isn’t even medically recognized.”
This “lack of care” makes the process of detransitioning, or “returning back to reality,” as she called it, incredibly difficult and perpetuates the “false promise of being able to change your sex,” she said.
But, Ms. Cole said that she is hopeful that a ballot initiative, called Protect Kids California, could “put the final nail in the coffin for the gender industry.”

Ballot Initiative

The initiative was launched by a coalition of parental rights groups, which aims to gather enough signatures to bypass the state legislature and let voters decide for themselves via referendum on the Nov. 5 election ballot.
A successful vote on the ballot measure in November would ban puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender transition surgeries for minors. It would also require schools to notify parents regarding their children’s mental health concerns, including gender identity issues, and prohibit boys who identify as girls from competing in girls’ sports and using girls’ locker rooms at schools.
At the rally, Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona), who has endorsed the ballot initiative and proposed legislation to mirror it, told supporters that “one way or another, we’re going to have this conversation,” in the state legislature or “out in the streets getting signatures.”
The legislation, Assembly Bill 3146, would prohibit health care providers from providing “sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” to patients younger than 18.
“We’re sterilizing our children. I don’t know who is OK with that but I’m not,” he said. “If we do not agree on protecting children, as a government, I don’t know what we’ll agree on.”
Erin Friday at the California state capital building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Erin Friday at the California state capital building in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Lawyer Erin Friday, co-leader for Our Duty—an international group that rejects gender ideology and opposes medical interventions on minors—and an executive board member of Protect Kids California, has also drafted legislation for two potential bills. One would require insurance companies to cover detransition treatments and surgery, and the other would extend the statute of limitations so detransitioners can hold doctors and medical providers accountable for malpractice, she said.
But so far, there haven’t been any takers among lawmakers.
Yet there are signs that detransitioners are gaining influence, Ms. Friday said. For example, the Detrans chat group on Reddit now has more than 50,000 members—although trans activists still dismiss detransitioners or even deny their existence, she said.
“Tell these young people that they don’t exist after you hear them. Tell them that they don’t deserve to get medical treatments. Tell them that they don’t deserve to hold the doctors accountable for what was done to them,” Ms. Friday said. “ I dare you.”
Gender ideologues claim that gender is fluid but deny gender fluidity applies to detransitioners, she said.
“If it’s fluid, then they are recognizing that someone can go back and forth from believing they are one sex to believing that they are their natal sex again,” Ms. Friday said.
But, she said, when a person decides that their “gender journey” is over and wants to return to their natural gender, the health insurance companies won’t pay for it.
There are “countless cases” of detransitioners who claim that they’re unable to find a doctor or a medical provider to help them, Ms. Friday said.
“The doctors don’t even know what to do with these people. That’s how nascent and experimental gender medicine is,” she said. “They just get cast aside as an experiment gone wrong.”
Citing the case of Richard Anumene, a detransitioner in San Francisco who is suing a Kaiser Permanente medical group after having his penis removed and undergoing vaginoplasty surgery. He is now constantly suffering from urinary infections and incontinence, Ms. Friday said, and medical professionals don’t know how to treat him.
“He is bounced from urgent care to the ER to gender clinics. They don’t even know how to control his bodily fluids. ... and at some point, antibiotics will stop working for him,” she said.
Harmeet Dhillon, a civil rights attorney, in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Harmeet Dhillon, a civil rights attorney, in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Harmeet Dhillon, a civil rights attorney and founder-CEO of the Center for American Liberty, has also launched separate lawsuits on behalf of clients Chloe Cole, Layla Jane, and Luka Hein against Kaiser Permanente for allegedly performing double mastectomies without proper informed consent when they were minors.
She told The Epoch Times in an interview preceding the rally that her organization calls attention to these cases to protect children—mainly girls—from being “mutilated” by U.S. doctors.
“This is the most important set of cases that I’ve handled in my career from a human rights perspective, and ... if successful, have the ability to save thousands of lives,” Ms. Dhillon said. “I’ve handled some big cases, but I haven’t had any cases involving human experimentation on vulnerable children, and that’s what’s going on here.”
Gender transition surgeries on children have been outlawed in half of the United States, but Ms. Dhillon said she wants to see them banned in all 50 states. She also hopes that states will extend their statutes of limitations, which are generally not more than three years, to five or 10 years so that more doctors and health providers can be held accountable in court.
Most people who’ve gone through gender transition surgery and regret it want to sue but can’t do so because the statute of limitations has already run out, she said.
By the time that they realize their complications will never resolve or they’re never going to be able to have children, have an orgasm, or live a normal life, “it’s too late,” Ms. Dhillon said.
California, she said, has a statute of limitations of three years from the date of surgery, which means that even if the patient was a child when the procedure was performed, in many cases that time has passed before a detransitioner has reached adulthood and is legally entitled to sue.
“They may not even be of age to be able to sue by the time they realize the horrible mistake,” Ms. Dhillon said.
Doctors are using parental consent forms as a defense, but she argues it wasn’t informed consent, because doctors allegedly “lied to the patients and parents” about the effectiveness and side effects of these procedures.
“They’re selling the lie that you can change your gender in the first place,” Ms. Dhillon said. “That’s a lie. You cannot.”
Doctors who told minor patients that gender transition surgeries can save their lives are turning their backs on those who feel they’ve made a mistake and want to detransition, she said.
“They actually gaslight them,” Ms. Dhillon said. “When each of our clients has gone to a doctor and said, ‘Hey, you know, this isn’t working out the way you said. What can I do?’ they’re like, ‘Don’t worry, regret is part of your gender transition.’”
Government-run health care programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance companies should have to cover detransition to the same degree and extent that they cover transition, she said.
If health insurers—private and public—are forced to pay for detransition costs, “you are suddenly going to see—just based on economics—an increased level of scrutiny,” Ms. Dhillon said. “If the profit motive evaporates, these ghoulish doctors—these butchers with MDs—are going to go find some other way to make their money.”
She commended detransitioners for their courage to speak out about their experiences.
“They’re sharing their stories, really, for the purposes of making sure it doesn’t happen to others, which is just incredibly brave,” Ms. Dhillon said.
Laura Becker in Milwaukee, Wis., on Nov. 2, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Laura Becker in Milwaukee, Wis., on Nov. 2, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Laura Becker of Wisconsin, who injected testosterone and had her healthy breasts removed at the age of 20 in 2017, said that five years ago, there were hardly any resources for people who regretted being trans, other than a couple of Facebook groups.
“Detransitioners were alone, turned away by doctors and shunned from our former communities,” she said. “But thanks to the first wave of survivors speaking out, we’ve seen monumental progress in understanding the harm of gender medicine, and how many victims there really are.”
Last year, a series of lawsuits forced Americans “to wake up and admit that harm resulting from transition is a devastating problem,” Ms. Becker said.
Since then, questions have been raised about the medical ethics of “gender-affirming” care, “or as I want to rebrand it, elective gender modification,” she said.
“What we’ve all gone through isn’t health care; it’s butchery in the name of therapy by progressives,” Ms. Becker said. “It isn’t compassionate to affirm an illusion. It’s experimental body modification.”
Abel Garcia, a California man who has moved to Texas, went from a trans female persona with breast implants back to his natural male gender. He told supporters at the rally that he was denied medical coverage for two years to have the implants removed.
“I tried getting help to detransition, and my therapist denied me saying that I just had surgery so I was barely recovering,” he said. “I had to fight my insurance company, my therapists, and a lot of people within the state to finally get approved.”
Attorney Erin Friday (L) with detransitioner Abel Garcia at the Detrans Awareness rally in Sacramento, Calif., on March 14, 2024. (Courtesy of Protect Kids California)

Attorney Erin Friday (L) with detransitioner Abel Garcia at the Detrans Awareness rally in Sacramento, Calif., on March 14, 2024. (Courtesy of Protect Kids California)

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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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