A panel of activists on Saturday warned against the growing trend of transgender-style medical procedures being performed on minors in the U.S.—a forum that was so controversial that event planners originally did not reveal its location to attendees until just 48 hours before it occurred.
At the event, sponsored by the conservative group No Left Turn in Education, speaker Chloe Cole, 18, told of starting the medical “transition” from a girl to a boy at 13 and of having her breasts removed at 15, only to realize at 16 that she had made a mistake.
Cole, who in recent months has appeared at multiple events and protests around the country sharing her story, told attendees that she started “transitioning” in public around age 12, wearing boys’ clothing and cutting her hair short.
At 13, doctors put her on puberty blockers and testosterone. At 15, she said she had the mastectomy procedure. A year later she realized she was a in fact a girl and wanted to “de-transition.”
Cole recently sued the doctors and hospitals that treated her. She still has problems from the treatment, including skin grafts on her chest that haven’t healed properly, she said. Her growth has also been stunted.
Forensic nurse Tammy Hartlaub also spoke to the group about the dangers of transgender surgery and medications given to children to attempt to switch them from one sex to another.
She noted the brain’s frontal lobe, which controls judgment, is the last part to mature when people are in their 20s. And the drugs used to block puberty “have significant side effects in adults.”
As to their long-term effects on children and teenagers: “We don’t know,” Hartlaub said. “There is no research.”
About 100 people came to the event.
The forum itself almost did not happen. Its location was kept a secret until just two days before it was scheduled. During a radio interview on the Dom Giordano Show on Friday, it was revealed it would be held at the Sheraton Great Valley in Frazer. The hotel reportedly began getting threatening phone calls. By 5 p.m. the event was canceled.
The radio station employee who accidentally gave the location on the air called the Rev. William Devlin of Widows and Orphans to see if he might know another meeting venue. Devlin contacted Pastor William Covelens of New Life Community Church in the village of Huntingdon Valley, who said was willing to host the panel discussion.
Stressing the growing spread of transgender ideology throughout the country, No Left Turn founder Elana Fishbein noted there are now at least 100 clinics nationwide that perform transgender surgery.
“In the last five years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of minors who report some distress about their sex and the perception of their gender,” said Fishbein. “For minors between ages 6 and 17 between 2017 and 2020, there was an annual increase of 20 percent. Between 2020 and 2021, there was an 80 percent increase.”
“This is a substantial increase,” she said. “This is not just minor.”
At the event on Saturday, speaker Sara Higdon warned against transgender activists who seek to target children for ideological exploitation.
“They simply believe there is no such thing as absolute truth,” said Higdon, a spokesperson for the group Trans Against Groomers. Higdon was born a male but now identifies as a woman.
Higdon indicated that there are considerable social justice incentives for men to begin identifying as women. “What way can an oppressor maybe become part of an oppressed class? They can transition,” said Higdon.
“And there are (upper-middle-class White) parents who think if they have a trans child they can say, ‘Look what a good parent I am.’
“And there’s a lot of eugenics at play,” Higdon added. “You are sterilizing an entire group of people. …They want to make your kids wards of the state. You can’t usher in Marxism without kids being wards of the state.”
Multiple school districts in Pennsylvania, including many in the Delaware Valley, are teaching the educational doctrine known as “Queer Theory,” deploying curriculum on gender for students as young as kindergarten.
Some districts, including the Great Valley School District, also tell teachers to hide from parents any information related to their children’s claims about transgender identities.
Though Higdon claims to have discovered an internal transgender identity at a young age, the speaker nevertheless criticized and dismissed major popular assertions about gender ideology at it applies to children.
“No child is born in the wrong body,” Higdon said, “It’s not the body that’s wrong. It’s the mind that’s wrong. My gender dysphoria went all the way to adulthood. At the age of 28, I had to tell somebody.”
Cole said that doctors “failed to address the fact that I might have had underlying issues” connected to identifying as a woman.
Cole said she “wasn’t forced into transition by my parents,” as critics often accuse some parents of doing. They took her to a therapist, she said, who allegedly told her parents that she would commit suicide if she wasn’t allowed to begin identifying as a boy. “[It] wasn’t true,” she said.
Cole said social media also played a large role in transmitting transgender ideology to her at a young age, particularly after she got her first mobile phone that allowed her unrestricted access to the Internet.
“I felt I would be better off as a boy,” she said.