NICOLE RUSSELL: America is in the throes of the gender wars

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

So opens Charles Dickens' classic novel "A Tale of Two Cities," but it might as well represent the two Americas warring over the gender identity issue that has become a full-fledged crisis.

In one America, in places like California, the concept of gender fluidity is thriving. Treatment is drastic and labeled gender and life-affirming. It includes hormone blockers, sex-change surgery, and anything in between, even for minors. California has passed multiple trans-friendly laws the last couple of years, including this year, when it made itself a sanctuary state for transgender minors who can't get care in their home state. In California, they'll be safe. 

California's message is clear: "Here, we're inclusive, diverse, accepting, and progressive. It's beautiful and euphoric — a transgender utopia."

It's also harming kids.

In real life, California's treatment plan of transgender minors isn't that rosy. America heard it first hand from Chloe Cole Thursday, during her testimony before the  House Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Dangers and Due Process Violations of 'Gender Affirming Care."

Cole said, in part: 

"Everything that I went through did nothing to address my underlying mental health issues that I had. My doctors, with their theories on gender, thought that all my problems would go away as soon as I was surgically transformed into something that vaguely resembled a boy…When my specialist first told my parents that they could have a dead daughter or a transgender son, I was not suicidal, I was a happy child who struggled because she was different. However, at 16, after my surgery, I did become suicidal….my doctors had almost created the very nightmare they said they were trying to avoid."

Cole hails from California, struggled with mental health as a young child, but was eagerly treated for gender dysphoria in San Francisco between ages 13 and 17. She is 19 now and her transgender care, which has permanently deformed her body, was a direct result of policies that allow transgender care for minors to thrive via California's progressive legislature.

There's another America, and it looks a lot like Florida. The Florida legislature has repeatedly passed measures that protect minors from life-altering hormone therapy and sex-change surgeries including SB 254, which permanently outlawed what DeSantis called "the permanent mutilation of minors." 

Policies there are so protective of children and parental rights that this CNN clip shows a family with a transgender child who claims they are forced to flee due to the political climate. 

Mom claims gender-affirming care for kids is "life-saving, essential medicine and treatment for our daughter." Further in the clip the mom says, "It's just so sad that our country and our society are in this place of denigrating people like that." At one point the child claims that Florida is "not a safe environment for queer people."

Imagine being so sensitive about politics and yet so sure of treatment that is experimental at best, permanent at worst, that you're willing to move your entire family out of Florida — one of the top five states people are moving to—to feel "safe." This is how different Florida is from California.

Both of these stories are anecdotal but they are representative of just how different the cultural climate is in these respective states, California and Florida, all because of their policies. Unlike other issues, this one has so gripped a fraction of young people, and promises to be so detrimental to the next generation, that it is imperative we view the entire concept of gender fluidity with caution — and the go-to treatment in states like California of cross-sex hormones and sex-change surgery, with far more concern than legislators there do.

Lawmakers and parents should be advocating that we follow states like Florida, whose lawmakers are approaching this subject with tentativeness and protection of minors — still acknowledging that little to no research supports drastic measures via hormones and surgery — instead of California, which appears to push minors into drastic, life-altering "treatment" which leaves children scarred and full of regret. Life is not a fiction, but this is a tale of two different states, two different Americans developing before our eyes: One that protects kids and one that doesn't. 


Image: Title: chloe cole
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