By Jonathon Van Maren
As the trans movement goes mainstream, the entertainment industry has obediently stepped into the culture wars to provide the propaganda. The BBC released Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth to introduce us to the concept of pregnant men; Netflix gave us Disclosure, to discuss how transgender stories are portrayed in film; and now HBO has given us Transhood, on the growing phenomenon of transgender children.
As I noted in a recent review for First Things, Transhood follows the families of four gender-confused children in Kansas City over five years, and it is a powerful piece of professional storytelling designed to exploit the natural empathy of the viewer. We witness parents breaking down as they struggle to understand and respond to gender dysphoria; children struggling to cope. Social and medical transition are presented as the only ways to deal with the struggles these families face.
As I pointed out in my earlier review, this is simply not backed by the evidence. Despite that, this is affirmed time and again throughout the film as an incontrovertible fact. The false choice of transition or suicide is one of the foundational underlying premises of the trans movement. It is why “transphobia” can be presented as lethal hatred—because those who oppose puberty blockers and transition for teens and children are sentencing them to almost inevitable suicide.
Psychologists such as Dr. Wallace Wong of British Columbia have even been caught advising “trans kids” to threaten suicide in order to speed up transition. In an event hosted by the Vancouver Public Library, he stated that children with gender dysphoria discover quickly that threatening suicide will get them results. “They learn that very fast,” he noted. Wildly popular trans influencers online advise other kids on what to say to doctors, therapists, and parents in order to get diagnosed as trans. Emotional blackmail charged with fear is an incredibly powerful tool.
As is often the case with propaganda films, most disturbing is what the filmmakers clearly do not find disturbing.
There is Avery, for example, the boy who ends up on the cover of the famous 2017 National Geographic issue “The Gender Revolution.” His mother, a trans activist, admits that her parents—Avery’s grandparents—are concerned that she is using Avery for fame and attention. They’re worried that Avery will never be able to change his mind and live as a boy later on because he’s been put on such a public pedestal. “Do you think you’ll ever want to go back to just living like a boy?” Debi asks him as the cameras roll. Avery is unsure. “No. Because I’m a girl, I guess. I don’t really know how to answer that question.”
The story of Phoenix showcases all the dangers of trans ideology, but the filmmakers don’t see it. As a four-year-old boy, he enjoys dressing in girl’s clothes. His parents assume he’s a girl. At a service of the unitarian universalist church, a female clergyperson invites anyone LGBT to come up and give their testimony. Phoenix’s mother drags him to the front and hands him the mic. The little boy refuses it. She does the deed for him. “Phoenix would like you to know that she’s a girl and she prefers she and her pronouns.”
The congregation responds, droning in unison: “May you be well, safe and whole. We honor you exactly as you are.” There is no being born again in this church. There’s not even “born this way.” This is something else. This is transhood.
Both Leena, a biological male presenting as female, and Jay, a biological female presenting as male, move from social transition into medical transition. Jay, who is 17 by the end of the film, takes puberty blockers, and with the assistance of testosterone shots, begins to look thoroughly male—the facial structure has changed, the voice has dropped, the peach fuzz has begun to sprout. Jay’s mother and lesbian partner are supportive. Jay has identified as male since childhood; Leena has identified as male since age 11. Their parents struggle, but all the guidance they receive is the same: Affirm, and then transition.
Leena takes the final step, procuring “SRS” or sex reassignment surgery. (This terminology has now been abandoned in favor of “gender affirmation surgery” to affirm the tenets of gender ideology more precisely.) Dr. Marci Bowers, a San Francisco surgeon, assures Leena’s parents that this is all normal—she has delivered many babies with ambiguous genitals. “Even in nature, God does not get it divided into exactly two camps,” she says. “The penis is the same as the clitoris, really. Everything a boy has, a girl has, and everything a girl has, a boy has. I deconstruct genitals when I do my surgical work and build them back up. We’re just turning back the clock, basically.”
Transhood is intended to be the beautiful story of children exploring their gender identity in an evolving culture. Instead, it showcases a tragedy unfolding in homes across America as the rates of gender crises in children and teens skyrocket. A few years ago, .002-003% of girls identified as transgender—now, that number is 2% and rising fast. Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University calls it a “social contagion.” In the five short years since transhood went mainstream, adolescence has become a haze of puberty blockers, testosterone shots, sex change surgeries, and gender confusion for untold numbers of young people. Much of the damage being done is irreversible.
Children like Avery, Phoenix, and so many others will one day be able to tell us, in their own words, what it was like to be the guinea pigs in a massive social experiment. I suspect that they will not be kind.
For more information on this growing trend, check out my interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Abigail Shrier, the author of this year’s essential book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters: