By Jonathon Van Maren
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once memorably asked. The answer, according to a chilling new documentary titled Dead Name, is a lot.
For those who haven’t been following the transgender takeover of culture, “dead name” is a phrase trans activists use to refer to their given name at birth, a name that they usually reject when they decide to “transition” to a different gender. To call Bruce Jenner “Bruce” instead of “Caitlyn,”; or Ellen Page “Ellen” instead of “Elliot” would be to use their “dead name.” This, trans activists claim, is a form of violence—and until Elon Musk’s takeover, it could get you permanently banned from Twitter.
Dead Name explores the stories of a handful of parents who watched their children’s minds get captured by the transgender movement, and it is a film full of death. It begins with names flashing across the screen—on birth announcements, balloons, painstakingly printed on school assignments. What’s in a name? Memories; identity; relationship; life. That is precisely why children who get sucked in to the transgender phenomenon are advised to choose a new name, and to leave all of that behind.
Dead Name shows parents recounting the loss of their children, helpless with horror. A four-year-old “socially transitioned” at daycare. Children encountering gender ideology from wildly popular social media “influencers” who persuade them that their feelings of awkwardness or lack of belonging can be solved by cross-sex hormone and sex change surgeries. Children going to Planned Parenthood and getting hormones without parental knowledge or permission. These parents, when they try to speak out and warn their children of the possible consequences, are demonized by everyone as unsafe and unsupportive, and children are advised by peers and professionals to cut them out.
Most of these parents aren’t even opposed to gender ideology per se. They simply wanted to talk to their children; to discuss the irreversible implications of these treatments. Many thought therapists would be their allies; that educators would want the discussion. But institution after institution turned against them. They were told they were abusive; that they were contributing to the demise of their children, even as their children—one as young as four—announced that they wanted to begin carving up their bodies and changing their very physiology.
The sense of betrayal—of being gaslit—that these parents experience is acute and powerfully conveyed. This film is the story of their desperate scrabble to keep their kids while the cultural currents suck them away. Most feel as if they are trapped in a nightmare from which they cannot wake up; in which they are screaming but everyone who hears them mocks their cries or tells them that it is their fault. Dead Name could also be called Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, because that is how most parents feel. “This is a crime against humanity,” says one helpless mother. “Cutting off body parts!”
One mother talks about her daughter’s beautiful voice slowly disappearing as she takes drugs her parents are helpless to prevent. As journalist Brandon Showalter noted during the film, these parents are watching the slow-motion dis-association and disintegration—at times literally, chemically—of their children. To talk about these tragedies, parents are now connecting through underground networks, often using false names, to talk about what is being done to their children where nobody can report them as dangerous.
There are, however, two kinds of parents. There are those who urge caution, and there are also those who wish to live vicariously through their kids. They want their children to be noticed. Special. Affirmed. And that, for some of them, means transgender. They like the idea of it, which is why so many are so convinced when their children are so young that they might be transgender, and even give their toddlers language that the children can then obediently parrot back to them, creating a confirmation loop that allows them to celebrate their child’s new identity online, where legions of trans activists are eager to welcome another to the cult. (A transgender toddler, one wag once noted, is like a vegan cat: we all know who is making the decisions). When the parents are divorced, this often results in an ugly, awful tug-of-war with the child almost guaranteed to be collateral damage.
There have been many documentaries and films celebrating the transgender movement over the last several years. Dead Name, I hope, is the beginning of a trend in which those brutalized and scarred by this movement can at last speak out, be heard, and begin to tell the side of the story that is lost in the roar of affirmation and the flapping Pride flags that do so much to drown out the truth. Vimeo has already scrubbed the film at the behest of trans activists. They cannot silence the legions of men, women, and children damaged by their ideology forever.