The families destroyed by gender ideology

A new documentary, Dead Name, reveals the inhumanity of trans activism.

Jo Bartosch

Jo Bartosch

Topics Culture Identity Politics USA

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Trans is a hot topic in journalism at the moment. Whether the angle is personal or political, there’s always a juicy or outrageous story to be found. However, while this grisly cultural car crash can make for engaging reading, the families torn apart by trans ideology are often overlooked. Dead Name, an American indie documentary released at the end of last year, seeks to redress this, giving a voice to parents who are sceptical of their children’s trans identities. Their powerful, poignant testimonies deserve to be heard.

Not everyone agrees, it seems. With depressing predictability, video platform Vimeo removed Dead Name in January, just 34 days after it was first published on the site. Vimeo apparently does not trust audiences to make up their own minds on this issue.

Undeterred, the team behind Dead Name hastily ‘re-platformed’ the film within four hours, on The film’s director, Taylor Reece, told me that the attempt to suppress the film had in fact sparked a surge in interest, driving sales ‘through the roof’.

Dead Name is a raw, intimate portrait of three parents whose children were labelled ‘trans’. A ‘dead name’ refers to the birth name that is discarded when a person begins to identify as nonbinary or as the opposite sex. In polite dinner-party circles, it is considered both poor manners and potentially traumatising to ‘deadname’ a trans-identified person, by using their former name. Yet, to many parents, their child’s rejection of his or her birth name, often the first gift a baby is given, can be hard to bear. As Reece told the Christian Post last year: ‘It feels like a gut-punch to parents because it’s like the child saying, “I’m trying to cancel my childhood”.’

Those profiled in Dead Name are not campaigners. They are relatable people struggling to make sense of a nonsensical ideology. In Reece’s words, ‘they’re simply parents who’ve dared to raise questions, who have struggled with being marginalised and being silenced’.

The first to speak is Amy, a mother whose teen daughter began identifying as a boy at 15, following a break-up with her boyfriend. She went from being a youngster interested in performing arts to becoming introverted, increasingly distressed and ‘cloistering herself in her room’. What Amy describes of her child’s behaviour sounds like normal adolescent angst. Yet, after a single remote consultation with a clinic, she was prescribed testosterone. This mother will never again hear her daughter’s voice as it was before it was altered by hormones. She has not seen her daughter for years.

Then Helen tells her story. Helen is a lesbian whose ex-wife decided to socially transition their child, Jonas, when he was just four years old. The first Helen knew of this was when a letter from Jonas’ preschool informed her that ‘one of our students is now trans, and we would love for you all to celebrate and support her’. Jonas’ name was changed to Rosa on the register. Helen had to fight a legal battle for two years to prevent her son from being socially and medically transitioned, eventually winning custody. Initially, she struggled to find an attorney who would even take on the case.

Last is Bill. Bill’s son, Sean, began to identify as trans shortly after he enrolled at college. Just months later, he was dead. As a child, Sean suffered the loss of his mother from illness and his brother from a heroin overdose. He was diagnosed with cancer both as a toddler and then as an older teenager. Bill believes that Sean had been buying hormones online and that these interacted with his cancer medication, hastening his death. His request for a proper autopsy was refused.

This story is particularly haunting because of the chances that were missed to set Sean on a different path. Bill took Sean to a psychiatrist in the year before his death. Bill trusted that a medical professional would help Sean understand that his mental distress was caused by his childhood bereavement and his illness, not his gender identity. Instead, Bill was told that his son was ‘definitely trans’ – and that, for questioning this, he was an ‘unsupportive, abusive father’. But as Bill reflects with poignant directness, he ‘was just trying to keep him alive’.

Bill’s pain didn’t end there. When the police arrived to inform him about Sean’s death, he assumed they had made a mistake – they told him his ‘daughter’ had died. Bill then contacted his son’s friends on social media to tell them about memorial arrangements. But rather than offer condolences or support, they mobbed him for referring to Sean by his ‘dead name’. Today, Bill hopes that telling his story might at least stop other parents from going through what he has.

Ultimately, the only mistake made by any of these loving parents was to have faith that those in authority would do the right thing by their kids.

This quiet, intimate film reveals the inhumanity of transgender activism – how zealots who believe themselves unquestionably in the right can be both blinkered and cruel. Dead Name also reveals the extent to which US institutions have been captured by trans ideology. And it shows the terrible effects this has had on families.

In the current climate, it takes bravery to swim against the trans tide, especially in the US. Amy, Helen and Bill have done everyone a great service by adding their voices to the debate. Those behind Dead Name should be commended for ensuring that their stories were told – and for fighting back against the censorship that tried (and failed) to snuff this film out.

Jo Bartosch is a journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

Watch the trailer for Dead Name here:

Picture by: YouTube / Matt’s Movie Reviews.

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Topics Culture Identity Politics USA


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