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The detransitioners offer devastating testimony

But the LGBTQ movement still controls most policies


Chloe Cole speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Sept. 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Getty Images/Photo by Drew Angerer

The detransitioners offer devastating testimony

Last month’s congressional hearing on so-called “gender-affirming care” included testimonies that amount to a massive warning against the prevailing approach to transgender claims.

Among those offering testimony was Paula Scanlan, a UPenn athlete forced to undress in front of her biologically male teammate despite her objection and past sexual trauma. She reported the school offered psychological services to “reeducate” her to become comfortable with their “non-negotiable” policy. Dr. Jennifer Bauwens also testified. Her research focuses on the effects of psychological trauma, and she described how gender-affirming care is practiced according to different standards than other psychological maladies, how the professional literature does not support the effectiveness of gender-affirming care, and how some 45 percent of trans-identifying people report a history of sexual abuse. Chloe Cole, a “detransitioner” forever changed by testosterone injections and a double mastectomy before graduating from high school, shared how she felt like a monster following her treatments, and that she needed therapy to address her social anxiety and the self-consciousness of puberty.

The hearing also included testimonies of those in favor of hormonal and surgical gender interventions. These included a licensed professional counselor and mother of a transgender teen, who offered as proof of her biologically female child’s gender identity a preference to play football and aversion to the color pink.

But one moment seemed to epitomize, perhaps even foreshadow, the future of this debate, one that signaled just how politically partisan the stalemate over gender transition methods for minors will continue to be.

Following Chole Cole’s testimony, a Democratic congresswoman from Vermont, Becca Balint, claimed her mission was to back “basic humanity and dignity” in conversations around gender affirming care. Then, turning to Chloe, she offered the following: “I’m very sorry you feel like you didn’t get the care that you needed and deserved.”

Gender dysphoric teens and young adults deserve to know the whole truth, including the stories of detransitioners.

It was a brief pause for personal connection, an unscripted interlude of empathy in a topic that so typically devolves into political talking points. But, underneath the compassion, was a familiar script.

While the congresswoman empathized that Cole’s experience left her with regret, she stopped short of acknowledging that her feelings represented anything beyond her own experience. For Rep. Balint, girls like Chloe are the anomalies, departures from the norm. Chloe’s feelings may be sincere, but since they deviate from the collective experience gender activists insist on presenting, they are invalid. Only the experiences and feelings of those who affirm or support the pre-existing narrative are given credence. A detransitioner rendered infertile before she could legally drive can be the object of passing sympathy, but she must never be a source of insight, much less a warning to others—all in the name of protecting “basic humanity and dignity.”

To borrow from Orwell, every woman’s experience matters, but some matter more than others.

The logic is hardly new. Our cultural psyche has been formed by similar logic for decades. Some 50 years ago, Second Wave feminism convinced women that they all, by virtue of being female, were oppressed by men. Heterosexual men held all the social power, aided by other socio-political institutions like capitalism and Christianity. The woman who claimed she hadn’t experienced such oppression was either unaware of her true subjugated state, a condition overcome by the practice of feminist consciousness-raising, or she was a knowing co-conspirator of patriarchal control, effectively a traitor to her sex.

Essentially, only the “collective experience” of women mattered. And that collective experience adhered to the political narrative that women as a demographic category were de facto subjugated, disenfranchised, and victims of patriarchal power. Any experience failing to conform to that political narrative was invalid.

Fast forward to 2023, and the oppressed have become the oppressors. The same logic is at work, but with a new gender minority as its beneficiary. Today, biological women objecting to gender-affirming care and its effects are either objects of public scorn or private sympathy. Former transgender persons who contradict the collective experiences of trans ideologies may elicit pity, but they are seen to have no bearing on whether those ideologies are true or false.

Gender dysphoric teens and young adults deserve to know the whole truth, including the stories of detransitioners whose experiences may well predict their own, whether they defend or deny the political narrative. As long as some experiences are considered “more equal” than others and only those who affirm trans ideology are considered authoritative, public policy and prevailing medical practice will continue to fail us all.


Katie J. McCoy

Katie J. McCoy is director of women’s ministry at Texas Baptists.


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