By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Tick. Tick. Tick. The countdown to the Nov. 8 Midterm Elections is on. Just seven weeks until we find out if the repairable cracks in our democracy will hold or if the fissures burst, unleashing a tidal wave of MAGA Republican venom normalizing hate and anti-LGBTQ authoritarianism.
LGBTQs have been concerned about this since 1977 when Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority joined with singer Anita Bryant to repeal Dade County, Florida’s gay civil rights ordinance, a sign of progress toward equality after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. For one brief shining moment, the gay world unified, came out, and defeated a similar effort called the Briggs Initiative in California.
But soon after, gay icon San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated, Ronald Reagan was elected and brought his merry band of evangelical homophobes into the administration. They believed that the new fatal disease AIDS was “God’s punishment” for homosexuality so AIDS was allowed to flourish into a deadly worldwide pandemic.
Decades later, AIDS is now a chronic manageable disease with treatments advertised on TV. But many of us are still triggered by the trauma of losing a generation of gay men, friends just settling into the soul of their authenticity and young men who anguished over never having fallen in love.
It feels like something similar is happening today – as if Trump’s MAGA hate is the new Reagan/AIDS and LGBTQ people and anyone else who disavows white supremacy are targeted for erasure. We see it everywhere: “Don’t Say Gay” bills popping up in state legislatures; well-received Drag Queen reading treats for children in libraries labeled as “grooming” recruitment centers; and the cruel fixation on transgender and non-binary children and their parents during an unacknowledged epidemic of trans and non-binary murders in the past several years.
Last July, seven trans people died through fatal violence, including Kandii Redd (Dee Dee), a 29-year-old Black trans woman killed in in Kansas City, Missouri – the 25th trans or gender non-conforming person killed in the start of 2022.
Who’s the next to be murdered, injured or harmed in Trumpified America?
My friend Max Huskins and I have discussed this at length. Max is an ally who is concerned for the community, as well as the erosion and loss of rights his own generation and the entire country are seeing – from the devastating overturning of Roe v. Wade by Trump’s Supreme Court justices to the explicit threats of marriage equality, interracial marriage, immigration and even basic human rights of bodily autonomy, sexuality, participation in society and the pursuit of happiness through mere existence.
So, we decided to do something about it. Even though both of us have full time jobs, we are carving out time to produce a limited series of “shows” on a newly created YouTube channel featuring politicos and Congressional candidates to help inform the LGBTQ community before the Midterm Elections.
Since we are doing this in conjunction with the Los Angeles Blade, we are focusing on Congressional races in California. However, we hope to also interview experts and politicos who can give us a broader picture of races nationwide so we may be able to contribute time through remote phone banking or dollars for important campaigns being overwhelmed by MAGA Big Bucks.
We are hoping to inspire other regular people to do what they can to save our democracy, too.
Our first “show” goes up this Sunday, Sept. 18. After the show airs, LA Blade editor Brody Levesque will post highlights, with a link to the show. We hope to have eight other Sunday shows, with a special show on Monday, Nov. 7, the night before the Midterm Elections. We will conclude the series with a final show analyzing what happened and what happens next.
Our first show this Sunday features out gay Los Angeles Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez who reflects on how we got to this craziness through the Trump administration’s census that undercounted people in California, costing us one House seat in the southeast portion of Los Angeles. He also emphasized how women – especially women of color – are “constantly under attack” and the responsibility of men to stand up for them. We also touched on down-ballot races, including for LA County Sheriff, which some folks might not realize is an elected office.
Our first highlighted candidate is out gay former national security prosecutor Will Rollins who is running against longtime anti-LGBTQ Republican Rep. Ken Calvert in Congressional District 41. Will is incredibly impressive, smart and forthright. He also gets candid about being so stirred by patriotism, he wanted to sign up for the military after 9/11 — but he feared being outed under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He then unsuccessfully tried to be an Arabic linguist – finally finding his niche as a federal prosecutor specializing in national security, which is how he wound up prosecuting some of the January 6 Capitol insurrectionists. And that led to him challenging Calvert who voted to decertify the election, voted against the commission to even investigate the attack, and called for charges to be dropped against the insurrectionists.
Part of the re-drawn CD 41 includes Palm Springs. Electing Will Rollins is virtually an LGBTQ patriotic responsibility.
Please tune into the show and then read my commentary about it on the LA Blade starting this Sunday September 18.
The Time is Now… with Karen Ocamb (Trailer):
Race to the Midterms: Christy Smith & Tony Hoang
Karen Ocamb & Max Huskins along with the Los Angeles Blade present a limited YouTube series “The Time is Now: Race to the Midterms”
By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The unimaginable is happening. Two years ago, Marc Elias, founder of the voting rights and elections-watcher Democracy Docket, warned that “we are one or two elections from losing our democracy.”
Complete and comprehensive voting rights legislation was needed to prevent that. Nothing happened and now several states are running slates of Trump cultist election deniers and MAGA Republican are “flooding the system” with anti-voting lawsuits. “It’s getting worse. It’s not getting better,” Elias told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace on Friday.
“The real threat to America’s electoral system is not posed by ineligible voters trying to cast ballots. It is coming from inside the system,” the New York Times Editorial Board wrote Friday, Sept. 23.
“All those who value democracy have a role to play in strengthening and supporting the electoral system that powers it, whatever their party. This involves, first, taking the threat posed by election deniers seriously and talking to friends and neighbors about it. It means paying attention to local elections — not just national ones — and supporting candidates who reject conspiracy theories and unfounded claims of fraud. It means getting involved in elections as canvassers or poll watchers or precinct officers….And it means voting, in every race on the ballot and in every election.”
A warranted panic is slowly moving through minority communities across the country — but there is still little concerted national outreach to LGBTQ voters who have our very lives, rights and future at stake in the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections. Not that LGBTQ organizations and candidates don’t want to reach out – it’s just incredibly hard to break through all the news noise.
That’s why we — Karen Ocamb and (ally) Max Huskins — have teamed up with the Los Angeles Blade to produce a limited YouTube series “The Time is Now: Race to the Midterms.” Our intention is to bring visibility to candidates and organization leaders and encourage LGBTQ people to get engaged, donate, do whatever they can to ensure a huge turnout for both local and statewide candidates and ballot measures, as well as electing candidates who will keep the US House of Representatives and the US Senate in Democratic hands.
If MAGA Republicans win, Trump wins and we can kiss our democracy and our freedom goodbye. Think this is an exaggeration? No one really thought the US Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and put politicians in charge of women’s bodies – but they did. The unthinkable is happening.
Meet Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California. During the height of the AIDS crisis, the disease was perceived to be isolated to the gay community and gay meant “white.” The result was that many people of color avoided seeking prevention and help. Today, California is a minority-majority state and EQCA has a rainbow staff that reflects that. “We really want to make sure that we reflect the diverse communities that we serve, whether that’s around gender, gender identity, race and ethnicity,” Tony says during the Zoom interview.
Equality California Votes, their new 501.C4 political action committee, just posted their first ad for out gay candidate Will Rollins (see our interview with Will in Episode 1). “Obviously, this is one of the most consequential election cycles in our lifetimes. And if we want to protect the pro-equality majority that we have in the House, that road runs through California. And so, CA-41, the district where Will Rollins is in, is one of the most important congressional flip opportunities in California. His opponent, Congressman Ken Calvert, for 30 years has voted against things like lowering prescription drug costs for seniors, against abortion rights and reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality.”
It would be a “sweet irony” for LGBTQ voters to turn this red seat blue.
Tony also talks about working with Planned Parenthood to explain why abortion rights is an LGBTQ issue and the importance of voting for Proposition One on the California ballot.
Tony is our first interview in tomorrow’s show.
Full disclosure: since I am no longer a journalist, I get to express my own opinions and make endorsements. My first endorsement was for former EQCA executive director Rick Chavez Zbur, who I’ve known forever and who’s now running for the state Assembly. My second-ever endorsement was for Christy Smith.
Meet Christy Smith, candidate for the CA-27. Christy ran for Katie Hill’s seat after she resigned. That race against Mike Garcia was so nail-bitingly close, she ran again. That race was also heartbreakingly close. But Garcia has gone from a dullard Republican to a major Trump fanboy, hanging around with cultists like Marjorie Taylor Green. He was among the MAGA Republicans who signed the amicus brief to the US Supreme Court asking them specifically to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“Subsequent to that,” Christy says in our interview, “he’s one of the people who coauthored ‘The Life Begins at Conception Act, which — don’t let them fool you — is their roadmap for a national abortion ban. So, while my opponent now tries to hide in safe spaces and say, ‘Well, abortion is safe in California — why are you so upset?’ Really? They have clearly signaled — and Lindsey Graham the other day just doubled down on the fact that they plan to pursue a national abortion ban.
“But even aside from that,” she continues, “we should never live in the kind of dystopian country where any person’s rights vary from state to state. And you and I both know — we saw that for a very long time with gay marriage rights in this country, right? Where depending on where you live determines whether or not you can marry the person they love.”
Flipping this seat is a necessity.
But one of the aspects about Christy Smith that folks may not know is that she’s a policy nerd – and a policy nerd who likes to get things done.
Here’s a quick clip of Christ talking about how climate change is a paramount national security issue. Please check back here Sunday for our full Episode 2 show of “The Time is Now: Race to the Midterms.”
LGBTQs- reclaim patriotism in the Midterms or lose everything
We must seize our own power & help Democrats win so we have a chance to secure our fundamental Constitutional rights
By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – LGBTQ+ people – this is not a drill. Be afraid. Be very afraid of what will happen if MAGA Republicans win enough seats in Congress during the Nov. 8 midterm elections to not only block President Biden’s democratic agenda but fulfill their cruel Trumpian fantasies of what America should look like under Christian National white supremacy.
Already Trump Supreme Court justices have indicated that overturning Roe v Wade is just the beginning. MAGA Republicans want government control over decisions by women, transgender and nonbinary people regarding their own identity and bodily autonomy and they want the recriminalization of homosexuality, starting with striking down the fundamental right to marriage equality.
For people of color, MAGA Republicans have gone way beyond curtailing voting rights. Now just stepping out the door takes courage. This was published by Statista Research Department on Sep 12: “Sadly, the trend of fatal police shootings in the United States seems to only be increasing, with a total 730 civilians having been shot, 71 of whom were Black, as of September 8, 2022. In 2021, there were 1,055 fatal police shootings, and in 2020 there were 1,020 fatal shootings.” The rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity as of September 2022.
It is not hyperbolic to say our democracy — the promise of the Declaration of Independence, the very freedom to live authentic lives — is on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections as MAGA Republicans seek power for the sake of power alone – not to create a more perfect union.
The evidence? 2022 is on track to set a record for the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures. NBC News/NBC Out reported: “State lawmakers have proposed a record 238 bills that would limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans this year — or more than three per day — with about half of them targeting transgender people specifically. Nearly 670 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed since 2018, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the American Civil Liberties Union and LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans, with nearly all of the country’s 50 state legislatures all having weighed at least one bill.”
MAGA Republican Congressmembers often cite state and local data to propose federal action. Consider Republican Rep. Ken Calvert. According to Bloomberg.com, he supported a Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the 2020 election and he objected to the certification of Biden electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Calvert said: “Today I lent my voice to the millions of Americans and my constituents who are deeply concerned by the integrity of the election.”
However, after redistricting, Calvert now represents Palm Springs, California which has an all-LGBTQ city council and is considered one of the LGBTQ-ist places on earth. They are probably more concerned that – while Calvert may not have the same violent stripes as the rioters who scaled the walls of the US Capitol on Jan. 6 — he’s still an insurrectionist propagandizing Trump’s Big Lie about a stolen election.
Enter Will Rollins, a brilliant gay former national security prosecutor who is challenging Calvert for that flip-able CA-41 congressional seat.
Will Rollins is the true patriot here.
“I was a federal prosecutor for five years in the central district of California, specialized in counterterrorism and counterintelligence and helped prosecute some of the people who attacked the Capitol,” Rollins tells me for a new limited YouTube series about the midterms. “As those of us in federal law enforcement were responding to that attack, my opponent Ken Calvert, was voting to decertify the election, voted against the commission to even investigate the attack. And then, even after it became clear that five police officers had died as a result of the attack, [he] called for dropping charges against the Capitol rioters. I didn’t want to look back on my life and regret not stepping up when our country needed people to challenge those who don’t believe in the rule of law and our Constitution, regardless of political party.”
Rollins has had a lifelong interest in national security, starting as a junior in high school watching the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001. He wanted to join the military but feared being outed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He wanted to join the CIA as an Arab linguist but was bad at learning the language.
Eventually, Rollins went to Dartmouth, worked in media relations in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, went to Columbia Law School, clerked for a couple of judges, and got hired as an Assistant Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office where he got to specialize in national security, including prosecuting a QAnon cultist who tried to attack a hospital ship in the Port of Los Angeles.
“As those rising threats from domestic extremism cropped up over the last five years, culminating in January 6, it became clear to me that I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines,” Rollin says.
Also interviewed in “The Time is Now: Racing to the Midterms” is Mark Gonzalez, the out chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party – which lists their endorsed candidates, including down-ballot candidates, on their LACDP.org website. Gonzalez talks about how the Trump census caused California to lose a congressional seat on the Eastside of LA – undercounting 100,000 people. He also talks about why it’s important for men to stand up for the rights of women who are a major target of MAGA Republicans, along with LGBTQ folks, people of color and migrants.
This is the first time down-ballot races include city races and local propositions that are usually on the ballot in March or June. Gonzalez exhibits his leadership by admitting that LACDP screwed up by endorsing LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in his first election. Villanueva recently displayed a very “Trumpian” move by having scores of deputies execute a questionable search warrant in the early hours at the home of out Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
“We made a mistake,” Gonzalez says. “I think what’s crucial to that is when we endorsed the current Sheriff, this was historic for us to endorse somebody who was a Democrat over a hundred and something years and that we made a pivotal change to put somebody in who was and is a Democrat and expressed those values in the Democratic Party, unlike the previous sheriff. Unfortunately, though, this particular sheriff — many of our membership, many Democrats across the county, feel that they’ve been duped…. [Now] he’s been on Republican platforms talking about his agenda.”
Gonzalez says LACDP now supports Villanueva’s challenger, former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna and calls for a ballot measure that gives the LA County Board of Supervisors the power and authority to remove a sheriff for violations of public trust.
“Election Day starts the first week of October,” he says. “Why is that important? It’s the sixth time that every single California registered voter in California will receive a ballot in the mail. That’s important because ads are going to ramp up. Folks are going to start to get their ballot in the box and they’re going to look at it and they have literally a month to return it.” The mail-in ballot must be postmarked by Election Day for it to count.
Despite the stakes, we really haven’t seen a big Get Out The Vote push yet. That’s what Max Huskins and I are producing this limited YouTube series.
We are tired of letting MAGA Republicans stake a claim to “patriotism” as they carry Confederate flags through the US Capitol, looking to “hang” Vice President Mike Pence and “get” Speaker Nancy Pelosi in order to stop the Constitutional peaceful transfer of power and install their fake prince as President. What the hell? Even in junior high school sports, opposing teams line up and shake hands, no matter who wins or loses the game.
Max and I are regular people with regular jobs — and we’re American patriots, too. That’s why we are reaching out to you, to stand up as an individual patriot who also cherishes this country and what it and you can become. We must all work hard to fight the Trumpification of America and save our democracy.
And, as an LGBTQ person, I am tired of always being afraid of making some straight person uncomfortable by my mere existence. I am 72 years old and I do not want to die as an official second-class citizen in this country I love.
We LGBTQs must seize our own power and help Democrats win so we, too, have a chance to secure our fundamental Constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Who is fighting for your LGBTQ+ rights in the midterms?
California ex-trans teen is national right-wing media’s darling
Cole has become the poster child for far-right politicians and religious conservatives working to ban these lifesaving medical treatments
LOS ANGELES – Lawmakers in Sacramento as well as Florida, Ohio and Louisiana have heard the heartbreaking testimony of a Central Valley, California teenager who says she regrets beginning a gender transition at age 12. And that regret has been seized upon by anti-trans forces all around the world, eager to retell and retweet her harrowing story.
Her name is Chloe Cole. After weeks of exchanging tweets with this reporter, she agreed to an interview, via email.
From trans teen to anti-trans activist
“I just want my tits back, Dawn,” Cole tweeted. “But that ain’t happening.”
I just want my tits back Dawn… but that ain’t happening. If wanting to end child castration is drinking the lemonade, then I’ll set up a stand. This is what it looks like when Dawn Ennis tries to “help me” https://t.co/IOJkkcxCmE pic.twitter.com/4I54b4gB2f— Chloe Cole ⭐️ (@ChoooCole) September 4, 2022
Cole says she sought and was prescribed puberty blockers at age 13. That was in February 2018. She kept getting those Lupron injections for about a year, she says. Then, a month later, she says she started testosterone injections, for about two years, followed by top surgery at age 15.
About a year post-op, Cole says she realized for the first-time that she may want to breast-feed someday, which was obviously impossible following her double mastectomy.
At 17, Cole says she stopped using the first name “Leo,” detransitioned, and resumed life as a girl.
Starting in May, Cole has been traveling the country to testify against medical transition. She’s been on Fox News, too, denouncing gender-affirming care, because for her, she says it was a mistake.
“I don’t feel like I understood all the ramifications that came with any of the medical decisions I was making,” Cole has said, over and over, in her testimony, claiming she wasn’t prepared for the difficult recovery or her inability to nurse a child. “I will never be able to do that as a mother.”
Now 18, Cole has become the poster child for far-right politicians and religious conservatives working to ban these lifesaving medical treatments and to prosecute the doctors and parents who support their children’s transitions, for child abuse. She calls herself a “former trans kid.”
“The gender dysphoria gets better every day through accepting the biological reality that while being a man may have its advantages, appropriating the stereotypes of men will never allow me to become one,” said Cole in an email Saturday. The Los Angeles Blade asked her if that means she does not consider trans men to be men. “Trans men are not biological males, so definitionally, they are not men. They still have XX chromosomes, they use hormones and surgery to approximate the experience. This does not mean that we shouldn’t treat these individuals with respect, but it does mean that there is a difference that we need to recognize as a society.”
Despite Cole’s choice of words, matching that of many anti-trans activists, federal judges, the ACLU and now the Associated Press have made it clear that the transphobic terms, “biological male,” “biological female” and “biological sex” are nonsense words, coined during the North Carolina bathroom bill days specifically to oppress trans people.
Chloe Cole and MTG
Republican Congresswoman and anti-trans activist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) retweeted one of Cole’s most popular social media posts Thursday, showing a trans boy before and after transition and top surgery. The boy’s name, age and plastic surgeon were not disclosed; Cole told The Blade the photo belonged to a surgeon who she said used it to advertise. Greene tweeted: “This child is not old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, or watch an R rated movie, but they let her choose to have them cut her breast off.”
Greene did so in support of her latest attempt to have even one bill she’s sponsored passed by the House of Representatives. Greene’s H.R. 8731, dubbed the “Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” would make it a felony to perform any gender-affirming care on a minor, gives minors an avenue to sue such providers, and prohibits the use of federal funds for gender-affirming care or for health insurance covering such care. And just for good measure, if someone undocumented is caught providing that care, they’d be deported.
“While I don’t agree with everything any politician says or does,” Cole told the Blade in an email, “I find her bill that protects children from the harm that I endured is a cause I can get behind.” Cole added that she would delete the post showing the post-op trans boy if their family requests it.
Greene’s brand of anti-trans animus is the kind of thing that prompted State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to introduce Senate Bill 107. As the Blade has reported, state senators sent Gov. Newsom that bill on Sept. 1, to make California a sanctuary state for children seeking gender-affirming healthcare. Before the vote, Cole was front and center to once again tell her story.
“I didn’t even know detransitioners existed until I was one,” Cole told state senators. “The worst part about my transition would be the long-term health effects that I didn’t knowingly consent to at the time. I developed urinary tract issues during my transition that seem to have gotten worse since my detransition. I have been getting blood clots in my urine and have an inability to fully empty my bladder. Because my reproductive system was still developing while I was on testosterone, the overall function of it is completely unknown. I have irreversible changes, and I may face complications for the rest of my life. I was failed by modern medicine.”
Cole has stuck to that script since May, with minor adjustments. The Blade asked her if she has someone else writing or helping her write her testimony.
“My own comments on my lived experience are more valuable than anything a PR rep could ever come up with,” said Cole. “The insinuation that a young woman can’t write a coherent testimony is extremely misogynistic.”
When informed her response was not a denial, Cole replied in a follow-up email: “My public comments are all my words, the insinuation apparent in that line of questioning (that I need someone to write for me or that I’m some sort of puppet) is ridiculously misogynistic.”
When she sat down with Florida’s anti-trans Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo in July, her story changed dramatically. She speculated that her four years on testosterone might endanger her ability to become a mother and medical transition might also put her at risk for cancer.
“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 video tweeted by Ladapo.
Florida doesn’t support the medicalization of minors with GD because the benefits are unproven, and the risks are extraordinarily high.— Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD (@FLSurgeonGen) July 10, 2022
Chloe was treated with puberty blockers and testosterone at the age of 13. @ChoooCole was courageous enough to share her story with us. pic.twitter.com/vL8SF5BH0o
She may be right: Two doctors at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary who studied trans men attempting to get pregnant last year determined that testosterone “can cause abnormal urogenital development in a female fetus,” which is why trans men are advised to stop injecting T prior to trying to conceive a child. But other researchers say they have insufficient data to determine the cervical cancer risk for people who transitioned from female to male.
Where are her parents?
If you’re reading this and wondering, where are Cole’s parents in all this? She says they’re staying out of the media spotlight on purpose. The Blade sought an interview with Cole’s parents, but she declined to make them available, citing fear of reprisal from advocates for transgender youth and their allies.
“My parents don’t want the spotlight due to the hostility and danger induced by many trans rights activists on the internet,” she told the Blade. “For an example: I received a threat from an unidentified nonbinary individual [Friday] via Twitter threatening to scrape out my eyes with bowls.”
Cole’s horrible encounter is certainly something trans people and their allies can understand, given the growing level of hate and violence visited upon them in increasing numbers each year. When the Blade asked her, “Why would your parents want to avoid the spotlight yet leave you unprotected?” and subsequently asked about her relationship with her mother and father, Cole declined to respond.
They would have had to consent to every step of her medical transition, including when she was 15 and underwent top surgery.
When asked if she blamed her parents, or holds them responsible for consenting to her treatments and surgery, she answered: No.
“My parents received intense social pressure and pressure from medical professionals,” she wrote. “They were told the classic among child transition stories, ‘Would you like a dead daughter or a live son?’ I don’t blame them for this, they were misinformed, like many parents put in this situation. None of us were aware of the word ‘detransition’ until it happened to me.”
Cole’s LibsOfTikTok Connection
Another fan of Cole’s is the infamous LibsOfTikTok, aka Chaya Raichik, who wrote in a rant on her Substack that gender-affirming care is “mutilating the body.” Cole follows Raichik and she follows Cole, who tweeted last week that she hoped Raichik won’t “back down from exposing what happens at these ‘gender clinics.’” She called it “one of the most important issues of my generation.”
Last month, Raichik published and tweeted recordings and screenshots that she claimed proved surgeons were performing hysterectomies, double mastectomies and orchiectomies on children at The Center for Gender Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Both hospitals were subsequently targeted with a series of bomb threats, as recently as Friday. Children’s hospitals in other cities have also been targeted as a result of Raichik’s campaign, which has resulted in temporary bans on some of her social media platforms.
But it’s a campaign based on lies; The factchecking team at Politifact determined Raichik’s viral claim was false. While there have been exceptions for some 15, 16 and 17-year-olds, most surgeons won’t operate on anyone younger than 18.
The Blade asked Cole for her opinion on LibsOfTikTok, Kiwifarms, and the threats against hospitals providing gender-affirming care and their targeting of libraries hosting drag queen story hours. “I condemn any/all violence,” she said. “Reporting on Children’s Hospitals hurting children is not violence.”
Does Cole consider Raichik a journalist, since she used the word “reporting?”
“Chaya is a Twitter user that posts about many things,” she wrote. “One of the things she decides to post about is the atrocities that are committed in pediatric gender clinics. She just happens to do it better than most of the mainstream media. As far as incitement of violence? The only reliable metric for that would be SCOTUS precedent and based on precedent like Brandenberg v. Ohio, calling this an incitement of violence would get you laughed out of court.”
In citing Brandenberg, Cole is referencing a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969 that decided a state law violated the First Amendment right to free speech of a leader in the Ku Klux Klan.
Cole went on to say, “I condemn violence completely, I’ve condemned the violence against children’s hospitals numerous times via Twitter and I’ve condemned the violence that Boston Children’s Hospital perpetuates against gender confused kids like the administration of puberty blockers with common, awful side effects, the removal of healthy breast tissue, and castration.”
As the Blade has reported, both Boston Children’s and Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. have issued statements denying what Cole and Raichik are claiming, and explaining that the surgeries are only performed with consent and as part of a long-term gender transition evaluation that includes mental health professionals.
The Blade reached out to Raichik Saturday evening for comment, but did not receive a response as of press time. As for Kiwifarms, which as the Blade reported last week, is no longer hosted by Cloudflare after repeatedly encouraging followers to target trans women and even Rep. Greene with doxxing and swatting, Cole said: I know very little about Kiwifarms but if they’re doing stuff like that, they should stop.”
As for the protests against libraries that host drag queen story hours, Cole again said: “I condemn any/all violence,” But in her next sentence she echoed what LIbsofTikTok, The Proud Boys, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other anti-drag activists have said: “The hyper-sexualization innate in most drag performances is not age appropriate for children.”
Does she oppose drag kings, too? “I’ve never really seen much on drag kings,” she said. “However, I would suggest keeping children away from themes and events that originate in bars and nightclubs.”
Since her emergence on the public scene in April, trans adults have been digging into Cole’s claims. Some note the fact that surgery takes years of planning and preparation and is not done on a whim or under pressure. There is rampant speculation that her travel has been paid for by anti-LGBTQ activists; Cole denied that on Twitter, noting, “The only people who have bought and sold me—and my body—are the ‘gender specialists’ and surgeons that sold my family and I a lie.” The Blade asked her to elaborate on this question as part of our email exchange. “My trips are self-funded with help from crowdfunding via Twitter tips,” she said.
Some wonder about the total silence from and invisibility of her parents, while others question whether she is being coached, based on how she appears eloquent when reading her prepared testimony, but speaks haltingly and struggles to answer direct questions.
Another example can be seen following her May testimony before Ohio lawmakers: Cole alternates between being unable to answer questions coherently, then responding with apparently rehearsed answers posed by Republican lawmakers.
Still others have doubted her account because of medical inconsistencies in her treatment and subsequent health conditions. Endocrinologists generally do not prescribe puberty blockers and testosterone simultaneously; typically, someone would get puberty blockers prior to experiencing puberty, and testosterone would be prescribed thereafter. Cole tweeted that her doctor did not follow the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care.
Another question is whether the tweets sent from @choocole are even composed by Chloe Cole herself. The Twitter account she was using as recently as July, @puddingpandan, appears to be no longer active.
It’s pretty clear that C**loe Cole is not the person tweeting from her account. Won’t share the offensive posts as of late but they read more like an adult or adults with an agenda & not of something a 17 y/o would be talking about.— Kensi Michelle (@CiriAntares) July 23, 2022
Cole said that’s not the case. “I just changed my Twitter handle from @puddingpandan to @ChooCole because I thought it was irrelevant to my message,” she wrote. “I’ve used the same Twitter account from the start.”
She repurposed a familiar line when asked who composes her tweets: “The insinuation that a young woman can’t write a coherent tweet is extremely misogynistic.”
Post-transition regret is incredibly rare
“Regardless of what anyone’s perception of a double mastectomy is… Cosmetic surgery that rids a young female of her unique ability to feed her future children is not something a child is old enough to fully grasp the importance of,” Cole said. “It’s an unethical practice that must be stopped.”
There’s no denying Cole is suffering as a result of what she describes as her realization, two years ago, that she’d never breastfeed. But the facts, whatever they are in Cole’s case, aren’t as important as the reality, which is that hers is still just one case, heartbreaking as it may be; Cole is an outlier compared to the vast majority of positive outcomes, as cited by journalist Zack Ford.
Last year, Ford reported fewer than 5% of people who undergo a gender transition experience regret it later, and as NBC News has reported, detransitions occurred in 0.4% of respondents who said they realized, like Cole, that transition was not right for them. Of course, gender transition cannot fix underlying mental health or personality issues.
Cole maintains expecting a child to understand the real life consequences of gender surgeries is unconscionable.
“Justifying the idea that a minor can consent to something like this is akin to the idea that a minor can consent to sex, tobacco or alcohol consumption, or any legally binding documents,” she wrote. “It is not okay no matter what lens you view it through. In California, my home state, a minor can’t even enter a tanning booth. It’s unethical to perform these surgeries on minors.”
But that’s why parents are made responsible for signing consent decrees. She had this to say in response:
“Parents should not be able to consent for a minor in this situation, especially when they face extreme external pressures to consent,” said Cole. “Signing away the ability to have kids, feed kids, achieve orgasm when they are old enough to get into a sexual relationship, etc., is an extremely personal decision that needs to be made at the age of majority/fully developed mental faculties.”
Whatever their reasons, no matter their number, Cole and other detransitioners do deserve support, understanding and counseling, even as some become political pawns for anti-trans forces. For example, Cole frequently tweets at and is retweeted by staffers in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office. She tags Democratic opponents of their Republican boss and denounces Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, which the DeSantis administration has banned. Which is interesting, since her Kaiser medical coverage reportedly paid for her own medical transition, including her surgery.
But in being politically active and denouncing gender-affirming care, detransitioners and their supporters can cause deliberate harm to trans and nonbinary youth, something that may be rooted in the suffering they have experienced or are experiencing.
In mid-July, Cole started a GoFundMe called Imperfectly Me, aimed at providing a platform for detransitioners. As of press time, it is far short of its $15,000 goal, with a total of $5.00 donated by one anonymous person.
Cole requested The Blade not provide a link to this fund while she works to complete her website with the same name and same goal of supporting detransitioners.
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