‘Former trans kid’ speaks out after Utah House committee, addresses transgender legislation

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This is the Utah State Capital Building. Here is where bills 16 and 132 were heard and where Chloe Cole shared her story. (Derek VanBuskirk)

Chloe Cole, a former transgender individual, spoke out about the bills addressed in a Utah House committee on transgender legislation in the Utah State Capital Building on Jan. 24.

Cole, who refers to herself as a “former trans kid,” began taking testosterone and hormone blockers at the age of 13. She later had a double mastectomy at 15 and then de-transitioned at the age of 16.

Now, at the age of 18, she decided to fly from California to Utah to share her experience with Utah State Senators on Jan. 18. After getting Senate Bill 16 through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, she returned to the House to help push that and other bills onto the floor.

The Utah House Health and Human Services Committee planned on hearing and voting for three bills on Tuesday. They were House Bill 132, Senate Bill 16 and Senate Bill 100.

House Bill 132 aimed to prohibit the medical transitioning of minors; however, after a public hearing, this bill was voted down with five votes for and nine against.

The next bill addressed in the committee was Senate Bill 16. This bill, introduced in the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee last week, aimed to outlaw gender-confirming surgeries and a hold on prescribing puberty blockers to minors. This bill passed the House committee with an 11-3 vote.

Representative Rex P. Shipp, the sponsor for HB 132 and who worked on SB 16, said that the bill needs some changes after the House committee meeting on Tuesday. He said that he fears that if the bill is passed that there would be a “mad rush” to begin the medical transitioning process for minors, as the bill does not take effect until 60 days after the bill is passed and because it allows children who are already beginning the transition process to continue.

The last bill scheduled for that hearing was Senate Bill 100. Although this bill had been postponed due to the hearing going over schedule, if passed, this bill would enact “provisions ensuring a parent’s access to information related to a parent’s child, including gender identity” within schools.

After the committee hearing, dozens of people visited the main hall of the Utah Capitol Building to listen to Cole give her story.

She said between being on the autism spectrum and hitting puberty early, she never really fit in growing up. Social media played a significant role in her initial transition as it pushed an unrealistic beauty standard and propagated many stories about the downsides of being a woman, she said.

Before transitioning, Cole asked herself, “What girl would want to live in a world where they are told that they’re treated differently, or treated poorly, or being oppressed or losing their rights?”

She said the LGBTQ community taught her “there is a way out.”

Her parents were told that if they did not let her go forward with this transition, she would have been at a high risk of suicide, however, she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in high school.

“They thought that once I was transgender that I would get better, but I didn’t. I got worse,” Cole said.

Cole said she missed aspects about being a girl, like expressing herself more emotionally and putting on makeup, dresses and skirts.

While taking a psychology class, Cole learned about the importance of breastfeeding for the health and growth of a child. Before her surgery, she was told that she would lose her ability to breastfeed, but she said that that did not mean anything to her at the time as she was only 15 years old.

However, in that psychology class, she said she realized that she would never be able to have the experience of breastfeeding her children, and that there was a possibility that she may never be able to bear her own.

“I never really heard about, I mean, the real blessings that come with being a woman,” Cole said.

She stopped taking testosterone and said she was told that by speaking up, she was causing problems “for the community of real transgender people.”

She said that the problem is not that people regret going through transitioning, but that “informed consent is not possible with the model as it is now.”

After Cole finished her speech, she took several questions from the audience. One such questioner, Leisa Lingwall, a support assistant at Brighton High School, shared some of what she had experienced concerning this topic in her school.

“That’s just what I’m seeing that everybody is just affirming, affirming, affirming, instead of just trying to get to the root of the problem and help the child,” Lingwall said.

“Even if that is what their end goal is going to be, let’s hold off on this you know?” Lingwall said.

The support assistant said that bills like SB 100 are a step in the right direction, but it does not fully address the issue.

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