The Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine Joint Rules/Legislative Committee Rule Workshop held a hearing on Friday to determine a course of action for child sex changes in the state. state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued guidance that child sex changes, undertaken with drugs and sometimes with surgeries, should not be permitted in Florida.
As a result of the testimony given by parents of children who are being put through gender transition, parents who have lost children as a result of gender transition, as well as from adults who have gone through transition and come out the other side, the Board voted to disallow the use of puberty blockers, surgeries, and cross-sex hormones for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors. The committee's recommendation to prohibit medicalized gender transitions for minors will go to a vote before the full board next week.
The hearing heard testimony from parents who have pushed their children into medical gender transition after believing their children have "come out" to them at very young ages. If this rule goes into effect, they would not be able to continue using drugs to gender transition their children unless those children were part of a clinical trial, which was the caveat given by the Board in their recommendation.
Male and female adults who have detransitioned spoke on their experiences with both transitioning to the opposite gender, as well as transitioning back to their birth gender, and there were many. Adult males spoke about their experiences with drugs and surgeries, with one individual who presents as a female describing the lack of function the neo-vagina between his legs has. There is not enough depth for penetrative sex, the individual told the Board.
Many of those who testified against these procedures for minors stressed that adults are able to make these mistakes, and if adults can be so wrong about the taking of drugs and surgeries to present as the opposite sex, what hope do minors have of being able to truly to consent to a lifetime of sterility and sexual function simply to be able to appear as the opposite sex.
Speaking first was Zoe Hawes, a 23-year-old expecting mother who had transitioned as a teenager. She choked up as she spoke, saying that she "experienced a lot of trauma" in her childhood, noting that she was molested at the age of six, experienced her parents’ divorce at the age of eight, and her mother attempted suicide when she was 13.
She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in middle school, and "I couldn’t accept my body in puberty," she said. "I just wanted to escape."
Hawes said that by the age of 16 she was "unstable and suicidal," and that she began believing that she was a boy after reading a memoir about a transgender person.
She came out to her mother, who feared that "I might kill myself if she didn’t affirm me," Hawes said.
Her mother took her to see a gender therapist, who diagnosed Hawes with gender dysphoria and after just three months of therapy, recommended testosterone.
"I started T seven months after coming out at the age of 16," Hawes said. "I really thought transitioning was going to fix everything."
While Hawes body began exhibiting more masculine features, her mental health declined, becoming "more suicidal, more unstable, and the anxiety became debilitating."
While in and out of mental hospitals six times, doctors never questioned whether testosterone could be causing these symptoms, Hawes said.
"After a serious suicide attempt in February of 2018, I realized that just changing my appearance was not going to take away the pain," she said, noting that after this realization "I started working really hard in therapy."
"A year later in 2019, I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus and began to find deep healing and peace within myself."
After four years of taking testosterone, Hawes began to detransition, and her mental health "improved exponentially."
"I’m no longer in therapy, nor even on mental health medication. I have not been suicidal or hospitalized since stopping testosterone."
Hawes said that she is "truly grateful" that she never went through with surgeries, something that she couldn’t afford at the time, "because now I’m happily married and 28 weeks pregnant, but if I had gotten surgeries that I so desperately wanted as a teenager that would have stolen this future from me."
Hawes requested that the board ban hormone treatments for kids and teens under the age of 18, and ban surgeries under the age of 21.
Echoing a similar experience of transitioning as a minor was Chloe Cole, a notable name in the detransitioning community.
Cole said that she began transitioning shortly before her teenage years by cutting her hair, changing her clothes, and going by a new name.
At 13 she began taking puberty blockers and testosterone, and at the age of 15, she got a double mastectomy.
"And yet at 16, after years of medically transitioning, I came to realize I severely regretted my transition."
Cole noted the role that social media and the internet had on her decision to transition, saying that "I unknowingly gave my mind and eventually my body to an anti-science movement that reduces women to long hair, barbie dolls, dresses, and false self-perception."
As she continued with her transition, Cole said that she was becoming increasingly suicidal, and that some issues went undiagnosed for years until she had stopped transitioning, like autism and body dysmorphia.
"All the talk about mental health, self-perception, pronouns, and ideology leads me to the question, why is a mental health epidemic not being addressed with mental health treatment to get at the root causes for why female adolescents like me want to reject their bodies?" Cole asked.
Cole noted that years after her double mastectomy, she is still experiencing complications, saying that at that moment she was wearing bandages on her chest to stop the leaking.
"I have no breasts. I want to be a mother someday, and yet I can never naturally feed my future children. My breasts were beautiful, and now they have been incinerated for nothing."
Cat Cattison also transitioned at a young age, and said she only ceased transitioning because it was affecting her singing voice.
Cattison said that she had struggled with "finding my place in the world," and she "was subjected to both abuse and bullying beginning in toddlerhood."
Her mother had told her at the age of five that it wasn’t possible to change genders, but at the age of 13, she discovered an online community of transgender people.
"I read that if one had gender dysphoria, it meant she was trans and that she was extremely likely to take her own life if she didn't transition. But back then in the mid-2000s, gender-affirming culture didn’t exist," she said, noting that her parents "did not affirm me for which I’m now grateful."
Cattison eventually transitioned, receiving testosterone "after just a 30-minute phone conversation" with Planned Parenthood.
She suffered liver and gallbladder damage, heart palpitations, and lost her singing voice, which was her tipping point in ceasing her transition.
Cattison told the board that medicalized gender transitions should not be executed on patients younger than 25, the age at which the brain fully forms.
Helena Kerschner also told her story as a young person who transitioned, outlining how online communities had also played a big role in her urge to transition.
Kerschner said that as a child, she had "no discomfort in being female," but that she had a history of "family issues, a difficulty fitting in with other girls, eating disorders, self-harm, and depression."
At the age of 17, after discovering online communities where the topic of being transgender was talked about, Kerschner began identifying as a boy.
She said she was "fully convinced that my only chance of living a happy life were to take hormones and undergo surgeries to change my body," and that her identity was affirmed by professionals around her, but that her mother wouldn’t allow her to take testosterone.
Shortly after turning 18, Kerschner said that she went to a Planned Parenthood, where they prescribed her a strong dose of testosterone at her request.
As a result of the high dosage, "I began experiencing uncontrollable episodes of rage and paranoia," and "I also became more suicidal and self harming. Due to this I was hospitalized twice," she said.
During this, medical providers prescribed "a litany of psychiatric drugs" to Kerschner, and they never mentioned that testosterone may be to blame for the new symptoms.
Kerschner eventually detransitioned, with these mental illnesses disappearing and coming out the other side without "any obvious physical detriments."
Other people told their detransition stories to the board, people who had transitioned later in life, and would not want that experience for young children and teens.
Rachel Foster, a 32-year-old woman who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder at the age of 21, spent five and a half years on testosterone.
She was prescribed testosterone, with her psychologist saying that if she didn’t take it, she would likely kill herself.
Foster said she was discouraged from seeing an endocrinologist, and that she was "told that all effects, except for hair growth and hair loss, were reversible."
She noted that her providers never assessed her medical history to see if she was a candidate, and that her therapist had lied about how long she had been seeing Foster.
"There are many compounding factors for why I felt wrong in my body. At 17, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia with major depression, now diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder. I also have a history of sexual abuse and trauma," she said. "I disclosed these things to my psychologist and prescribing physician but I was still told that I need to transition."
Foster experienced renal failure, and after coming off of testosterone at the age of 27 at a lower dose, experienced three Transient ischemic attacks, or mini strokes.
At the age of 28, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis, and received a hysterectomy. Her vaginal tissue was found to be "excessively thin," causing tears and infections, and her ovaries no longer functioned, forcing her to now use supplemental estrogen.
"Today, I implore you to consider the risks these medical experiments have and stop this method of treatment," she said.
Camille Kiefel revealed a similar story of a childhood of mental health issues, saying that at the age of 30 "I was at the end of my rope when I transitioned."
Kiefel recounted getting "top surgery" not long after requesting it, adding that due to complications, "there were many times I didn’t know if I would make it through the night."
"Today I am more grounded than I have been in my entire life. But I'm mutilated. Between my carved-up body and the physical complications, I often question if there's anything on the other side. Where my breasts were are hollow. I can never get them back. I can never fit a dress the same way again. I can never breastfeed. Who will love me?" She questioned.
"You know what keeps me going? Stopping this from happening to someone else," she added.
A person who went by the online persona of "Shapeshifter" recounted to the board the complications associated with having a sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
Shapeshifter said that at the age of 22 he began transitioning, soon after receiving facial feminization and breast augmentation surgeries.
Shortly after receiving SRS, Shapeshifter said that "I was super excited to start a new life," but this feeling wouldn’t last for long.
"My vagina started constricting," Shapeshifter revealed, which resulted in vaginal stenosis that left him unable to have penetrative sex.
He received multiple revisions, the last being performed by Dr. Christopher Salgado in 2018, leaving Shapeshifter with a colorectal fistula.
He has since begun detransitioning, and said that we will be "dependent on synthetic hormones" for his life.
Billy Burleigh also recounted complications associated with creating an artificial vagina.
As an adult, Burleigh went in for a penile inversion, where "the doctors and nurses had difficulty stopping the bleeding from my new vagina."
He said that his vagina was "packed with gauze," and eventually need to receive a blood and plasma transfusion. He spent three weeks in the hospital recovering, and eventually returned four months later for a labiaplasty.
Ted Halley said he did "everything you could do" for surgeries, including facial feminization and "bottom surgery."
He likened his feelings after to "buyers remorse." He said for eight to 10 years he felt "very happy," but started experiencing depression.
Halley urged the board to ban these procedures on minors, saying, "I was 50 years old when I transitioned. And it took me 60 to figure it out. So if a man at 60 can’t figure it out, how on God’s green earth is a minor to?"
Florida was among the first states to take legislative action against sex changes for minors and the implementation of gender identity indoctrination in schools.
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