Sunday, March 05, 2023

Lawsuit by 'willing patsy' is latest attempt by conservatives to undermine trans health and safety

Chloe Cole is the anti-LGBTQ industry's latest willing patsy against LGBTQ equality and safety.

 Earlier last week, I posted about the now refuted claim of "whistleblower" Jamie Reed against a St. Louis transgender center. On the heels of that comes a "lawsuit" whose goal seems to be not winning but creating an incentive to justify more anti-trans laws across the country. 

From The Los Angeles Times:

California teenager Chloe Cole has become something of a star in the movement to deny treatments to transgender youth. She has given testimony or made public statements in support of anti-treatment bills in Florida, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Idaho and North Dakota; appeared on Fox News; and shared a Washington platform with right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). That’s useful for you to know in assessing Cole’s latest moment in the spotlight: her filing of a lawsuit against the giant Kaiser Permanente healthcare system. 

 . . .The context of Cole’s lawsuit bears close scrutiny. It’s part of a concerted right-wing attack on LGBTQ rights, in which the health of transgender youth is exploited as a pretext for bans on gender-affirming care. It resembles the right-wing attack on abortion rights, another movement that cynically masquerades as an effort to improve healthcare but actually exposes millions of Americans to injury and death for strictly partisan purposes. 

 . . . Cole is one of a handful of self-described detransitioners who have been flown around the country by anti-transgender activists to speak in favor of treatment bans. Their presentations aim to convince legislators that second thoughts are common among transgender patients, as though to suggest that gender-affirming treatment is a sham. 

 The Los Angeles Times piece further points out how Cole aligns herself with anti-trans groups while going from state to state giving lawmakers the false impression that 'destransitioning' is a large facet of the trans community when it is only one to two percent motivated by discrimination and societal pressures. The piece also points several errors in her complaint: 

 Cole’s legal complaint incorporates what seem to be misleading or inaccurate descriptions of developments in the gender dysphoria treatment field. The complaint states that “negative results” from the use of puberty blockers and hormones “caused” the shutdowns of a transgender clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1979 and Britain’s Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service more recently. 

Neither assertion is quite accurate. 

 The Johns Hopkins clinic was closed by the hospital’s chief of psychiatry, Paul R. McHugh, on ideological and religious grounds; a devout Catholic, McHugh opposed gender reassignment treatments in principle and maintained, as he put it in a 2016 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, that “‘sex change’ is biologically impossible.” Johns Hopkins shed McHugh’s four-decades-old judgments and reestablished its gender identity clinic in 2017. 

 Tavistock has not been shut down, though it is slated for closure by Britain’s National Health Service later this year. Its problems were not related to the medical issues with the treatments themselves, but rather with its being overwhemed, as Britain’s lone treatment center, by a torrent of new gender dysphoria cases. The NHS plans to replace Tavistock with several regional centers to improve access for all such patients. 

 Cole’s complaint also describes the conclusion of a 2011 Swedish study it cites as having found that “transition treatment does not improve long-term mental health for transgender individuals.” That’s not what the study concluded, however. 

 In propping up Cole, the anti-LGBTQ industry is following the same playbook used when it propped up the "ex-gay" movement and the narratives against marriage equality and LGBTQ people raising children.  They manufacture false theories and then use a willing patsy give those theories credibility when they don't stand up under scrutiny. Instead of having spokesperson spew cherry-picked and false data which demonizes LGBTQ people, it's easier to prop up a willing patsy to give "personal narratives" supposedly proving the accuracy of this data. 

That person will then be taken on speaking tours in front of conservative groups and particularly in front of legislative bodies looking to justify their anti-LGBTQ bills. And while that person gets praise, scrutiny seems to always be missing when it comes to their story. Cole is no different. To this day, there are several holes in  her story (such as the actions of her parents when the situation was alleged to have happened) which have not been sufficiently addressed.

This use of a willing patsy is a consistently successful endeavor for the anti-LGBTQ industry because there seems to always be one ready to jump into the spotlight.  In the past, there was Michael Johnston, Dawn Stefanowicz, Robert Oscar Lopez, as well as so many others.

This time, it's Chloe Cole's turn.