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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU College Republicans hosts “detransitioned” activist Chloe Cole

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Micah Sandy/The Daily Northwestern
Conservative activist Chloe Cole speaking behind a lectern at Louis Hall at Norris University Center. Cole spoke about her experience “detransitioning” as part of Northwestern College Republicans’ speaker event Tuesday.

Content Warning: This story includes mentions of suicide.

Activist Chloe Cole gave a talk opposing gender-affirming care for minors at an event hosted by the Northwestern College Republicans Tuesday night.

The event was titled “Transition and Detransition.” Cole, 19, began transitioning at 13 and finished “detransitioning” at 16. She now supports bans on gender-affirming care for minors, and testified to Congress about her experience in July. She is a “patient advocate” for Do No Harm, a political advocacy group which opposes gender-affirming care for children.

Gender-affirming care has been approved by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization and other major medical associations as an effective form of treatment for those facing gender dysphoria, including minors. 

Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association also show that access to gender-affirming care is linked to improved mental health outcomes and lower rates of self-harming behavior. An Associated Press review of 27 studies found that about 1% of adults who receive gender-affirming surgeries express regret.

Representatives from NU’s Society of Transgender and Non-Binary Students and other individuals handed out informational brochures and flyers and waved pride flags at the event.

The brochure distributed by STANS disputed some of Cole’s main points and highlighted the positive results of gender-affirming care, arguing social and medical transition is “the only scientifically-supported method of addressing gender dysphoria.” It also featured resources like the Trans Lifeline and Trevor Project Suicide Hotline.

Members of conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom were also present at Tuesday’s event. NUCR worked with the national branch, Young America’s Foundation, to organize it.

Weinberg junior Mattie Poelsterl, head of advocacy and education for STANS, said the group protested the event because Cole’s experience is not representative of all transgender youth. The group disagreed with her position that no child should be allowed to transition.

“We believe the College Republicans and YAF are using this event mostly to feed into transphobia here on campus,” Poelsterl said.

During her speech, Cole criticized her doctors for “manipulating” her parents into believing she would commit suicide if her parents prevented her from transitioning. She said children should not be permitted to make decisions that will govern the rest of their lives. 

Cole said she experienced “gender euphoria” after her transition, but then became depressed and realized she wanted to grow up as a woman.

Cole said her identity does not come from pronouns or self-identification.

“I wish someone had told me that I was perfect just the way that I was,” she said.

Cole also repeated a common idea used to oppose gender-affirming care — that gender dysphoria is a phase, or a part of adolescence that passes.

Weinberg senior and NUCR former President Agustin Bayer said the purpose of the event was to bring light to “an issue others seek to obscure.”

“When we put up posters to publicize this event, as we were approved by the University and everything, there were students here at Northwestern that tore them down,” Bayer said. “And that is something that I have never seen in all my four years here.”

In May, NUCR hosted anti-LGBTQ+ activist and conspiracy theorist James Lindsay, who helped popularize the rhetoric that members of the LGBTQ+ community are “groomers.” The following night, NU’s Associated Student Government froze the College Republicans’ funding for posting flyers violating NU’s Policy on Discrimination & Harassment.

ASG has since reinstated NUCR’s funding, according to Bayer.

Bayer said the event is not hate speech and that people should not be offended by “divergent opinions” on controversial issues.

“I think that for some students who identify as members of the LGBTQ community or as allies, if they care about living fulfilled lives, they should be prepared to listen to voices that disagree with the path they’re currently taking,” Bayer said.

Poelsterl said the event may have made transgender students feel unsafe on campus.

Weinberg junior and STANS Treasurer Misty Roe added that gender-affirming care is lifesaving and follows standards set by the medical community.

“We will advocate for our right to exist as trans people on this campus,” Poelsterl said. “We will advocate for our trans brothers and sisters who around the country are being harmed by the rhetoric that Chloe Cole is spreading and the bills that her rhetoric is being used to pass.”

Email: [email protected]

X: @IsaiahStei27

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