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A California teen girl who once identified as transgender and took hormones and underwent surgery to affirm such an identity spoke out in favor of a Florida rule blocking Medicaid funds from paying for medical interventions for gender dysphoria.
“I really didn’t understand all of the ramifications of any of the medical decisions that I was making,” Chloe Cole, 17, said at a public hearing Friday. She said she was medically transitioned from ages 13 to 16, taking so-called puberty-blocking drugs and testosterone, and undergoing surgery to remove her breasts at age 15. “I was unknowingly physically cutting off my true self from my body, irreversibly and painfully.”
“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 separate private meeting with Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo Friday, footage of which Ladapo posted on Twitter Sunday. “And because I do not have my breasts, … I am not able to breastfeed whatever future children I have.”
“That realization, actually, was one of the biggest things that led to me realizing that this was not the path that I should have taken,” Cole added.
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“No child should have to experience what I have,” she concluded.
When asked what she would say to the public, Cole said, “Do not transition your kids.”
“If you are considering transitioning, please wait until you are a fully developed adult,” Cole, whose Twitter handle is @ChoooCole, told Fox News Digital. “Transitioning can damage your body and mind in ways that we may not fully understand.”
Ladapo also warned against transgender medical interventions for children.
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“Medicalization of minors with gender dysphoria might advance the political views of physicians involved in their care, but the data showing any benefits for the actual children is extraordinarily thin,” the surgeon general told Fox News Digital. “The affirmation model runs an unacceptably high risk of harm.”
“Parents are threatened with fears of suicide, but the treatments have not been shown to actually reduce this risk,” he added. “These patients need compassionate care of their emotional and mental well-being—not to be in embroiled in political views about sex/gender.”
Cole spoke in favor of Rule 59G-1.050, in which the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), would restrict Medicaid funding from transgender drugs and procedures. Under the rule, Florida Medicaid would not cover puberty blockers, hormones and hormone antagonists, sex reassignment surgeries, or “any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics” to treat gender dysphoria.
AHCA Communications Director Brock Juarez praised Cole’s testimony as “very thought-provoking.” He also noted AHCA’s recent report finding that several services for treating gender dysphoria “are not consistent with widely accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long term effects.”
Transgender activist groups, medical associations, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have supported medical interventions for minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria, condemning policies like the one Cole supports.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space,” the AAP wrote in a March 2021 statement condemning laws against transgender medical interventions for children.
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Neither the AAP nor the National Center for Transgender Equality responded to Fox News Media’s requests for comment by press time.
In May 2021, the Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Last month, Biden signed an executive order urging HHS to ensure minors’ access to transgender interventions.
Yet the medical community is divided on the issue.
Dr. Matthew Benson, a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist in Jacksonville, testified that he agrees with the AHCA’s rule. “I think the data on which the gender-affirmative model is based is not scientific,” he said. He cited studies from Sweden and Denmark showing extremely high rates of suicide among people who took transgender interventions, and concluded, “We need better data, we need long-term perspective trials where we can look at adverse effects. We need much more robust data to justify these kinds of very robust therapies.”
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Most hormone treatments “are only FDA approved as puberty blockers in children for the purpose of treating central precocious puberty and not for gender dysphoria,” Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an independent private practice endocrinologist in Rocklin, Calif., told Fox News in Dec. 2021. He faulted “the off-label use of these medications for gender dysphoria,” claiming that “blocking normal puberty has numerous unhealthy side effects including loss of normal bone development, interference with normal brain and social development, and importantly causes infertility and sexual dysfunction. Many of these effects will be irreversible.”