December 9, 2023

‘Only the Beginning’: Lawsuits From Detransitioners Are on the Rise

Gender transition procedures do not appear to be resolving the mental health issues of those struggling with their gender identity.

By Dan Hart

As the number of people who have chosen to detransition out of a transgender identity continues to grow, a parallel increase in lawsuits filed by detransitioners against gender clinics and medical professionals is also occurring.

In November of last year, 18-year-old Chloe Cole became the first detransitioner to file a medical malpractice suit against Kaiser Permanente as well as the doctors who advised her to undergo gender transition procedures and performed them over a five-year period beginning when she was 13. The lawsuit noted that as a result of undergoing “puberty blockers, off-label cross-sex hormone treatment, and a double mastectomy,” Cole experienced “deep emotional wounds, severe regrets, and distrust for the medical system” and has “suffered physically, socially, neurologically, and psychologically.”

In June, Kaiser was sued by a second detransitioner in California. At the advice of her doctors, Kayla Lovdahl began taking puberty blockers at age 12 and underwent a double mastectomy at age 13. Lovdahl’s doctors “did not question, elicit, or attempt to understand the psychological events that led Kayla to the mistaken belief that she was transgender, nor did they evaluate, appreciate, or treat her multi-faceted presentation of co-morbid symptoms,” the lawsuit stated.

It appears that Cole and Lovdahl’s cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this year, a new law firm was launched in Dallas that specifically serves detransitioners who are seeking recompense for being victims of what they say is medical malpractice. So far, Campbell Miller Payne has filed lawsuits on behalf of four clients, and the firm says that they are currently in discussions with 40 more potential clients. According to founding partner Jordan Campbell, it is “only the beginning.”

The firm’s clients include Prisha Mosley, who began testosterone injections at age 17 and had both breasts removed just one year later. Soren Aldaco was also prescribed cross-sex hormones at 17 — without her parents’ knowledge — and also underwent a double mastectomy only two years later. A third client named Isabelle Ayala was prescribed testosterone at age 14, with her doctors keeping her on the drug despite a subsequent suicide attempt.

Lawsuits against medical practitioners who carry out gender transition procedures are likely to continue surging due to the explosive growth in demand for the procedures and in facilities that carry them out. In 2022, the U.S. market size for gender transition surgery was estimated to be $2.1 billion and is estimated to grow to over $3.1 billion by 2032.

The lawsuits come as new studies reveal that gender transition procedures do not appear to be resolving the mental health issues of those struggling with their gender identity. A Finnish study published last month found that those with gender dysphoria “present with many more common psychiatric needs” than the general population, “even when medical GR [gender reassignment] interventions are carried out.”

Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, a licensed therapist and clinical researcher who has studied the effects of trauma on children, was encouraged by the increasing number of detransitioners who are stepping forward to file lawsuits.

“This is good news,” she told The Washington Stand. “We need to fight this from every direction. This whole ideology was introduced from multiple directions, so we need to fight it multiple ways. We’re fighting it legislatively, but now we’re fighting it through these individual lawsuits, and hopefully those will just continue to grow.”

Bauwens continued, “The other great thing about this is it really opens up a discussion and the impact that these individuals have experienced as a result of this so-called ‘gender-affirming care.’ When you’re giving testimony to a legislative body, you’re just given a few minutes, but through these lawsuits we’re going to hear more of what these people have gone through and the tragedy that they have faced. A lot of the transgender activists say that there are so few minors that are undergoing ‘gender-affirming care,’ yet we are seeing these lawsuits from very young women. This is not an anomaly. The fact that there have been at least 40 people that have contacted this law firm should be raising alarm bells. We know that there have to be so many more. This is not just some one-off, one person who was pushed through these types of procedures.”

“I also appreciate how they are bringing out the physiological harms that have happened to them,” she added. “They’re also bringing out the fact that when they went for help to the therapeutic and medical community, instead of getting an accurate assessment, they were just onboarded to these so-called ‘treatments.’ I think that’s a really important thing that we will hear more about through these lawsuits, and I hope they get a lot of money for what they went through.”

Bauwens, who serves as director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, went on to observe that the lawsuits could serve as a caution to institutions and medical professionals that push gender ideology.

“The good thing with these lawsuits is for those activists who are motivated primarily by money, this hits them where it hurts,” she noted. “I do believe that there are some people who are so ideologically driven that they will push forward regardless of how it hits their bank account, but I think that so much of this practice is tied up to money. When hospitals and universities and the profession itself starts losing money, they’re going to back away from this faster than even any legislation that’s put forward. It’s a good attack strategy.”

Chloe Cole, the first detransitioner to file suit, has in many ways become the face of the growing movement. At an event at the University of Utah last week, Cole was labeled “transphobic” by a professor, a label that has become a consistent line of attack against detransitioners from the Left. Bauwens remained unconvinced that the strategy will be effective going forward.

“I think the more the public learns about what’s involved with ‘gender-affirming care’ and what the long-term ramifications are, I think people are beginning to move away from it,” she said. “The line of ‘transphobia’ is going to carry less weight the more that people see the faces of those who have fallen prey to the ideology.”

As to the question of how those struggling with gender identity can achieve authentic healing, Bauwens highlighted the importance of homing in on underlying causes.

“Healing is going to need to take place where the original problem started,” she underscored. “It’s too bad that they were put on this other track that veered them away from dealing with whatever the root cause was to the distress. There’s going to be a layering of issues to deal with because now, they’re going to have to face the fact that those in authority — and those who were supposed to be experts and healers — have completely led them astray and actually were (perhaps unwittingly) part of re-victimizing them, their bodies as well as their minds. But it’s not all hopeless, by any stretch.”

Bauwens further emphasized how those who have detransitioned are in a unique position to become peerless witnesses and role models for those wrestling with gender confusion.

“When someone who has been through a situation where the authority has so clearly violated them, as they heal, they can be a tremendous voice, they can be tremendously clear about what they believe and how they view the world,” she pointed out. “The potential for raising up other Walt Heyers and people who are able to help others and be a clear voice on this issue and many others is phenomenal.”

“People like KathyGrace Duncan and Laura Perry have developed relational depth through their experience and have a clear understanding of their authentic self. They would have done some of the identity work that maybe others haven’t been forced to do. They have the opportunity to have a richer authentic connection with themselves and with others once they’ve actually treaded that hard road of grappling with their identity.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

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