A few years ago, filmmaker and former pediatric nurse Jennifer Lahl noticed a disturbing uptick in the push to allow children to medically and surgically transition.
“I was always very interested in medicine and the care and treatment of children,” Lahl, who also serves as the founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, told The Christian Post.
“I thought, we really need to make a film focused on whether we should allow children to do this very experimental ‘treatment’ that has significant short and long term consequences to their heath.”
Lahl’s new documentary, “Trans Mission: What’s the Rush To Reassign Gender?” examines the motives behind the push to transition children through life-altering medical and surgical procedures, including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and elective cosmetic surgeries, such as double mastectomies and the removal of testicles.
The documentary features interviews with parents, medical professionals and activists concerned by what they believe is the exploitation of children, teens and young adults — many of them special needs, struggling with gender dysphoria or dealing with family trauma.
Contrary to the ideas presented by proponents of gender identity affirmation on children, Lahl stressed that gender dysphoria — which she defined as the “state of confusion where, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in my body, I don’t like what’s happening to my body and the change as I enter puberty'" — is not a new phenomenon, nor does mean a child is born in the wrong body.
“We need to provide children that are experiencing gender dysphoria with a whole host of therapies to try to get an understanding of, what's going on in the home, what's going on in the community and what's going on at school? Is this a child being bullied? Is this child on the spectrum?" she said.
"To offer medical and surgical transition is not appropriate therapy for these kinds of feelings," Lahl stressed.
The transitioning of children is an issue that crosses political lines, with even members of the LGBT community speaking out against the phenomenon. But those who publicly disagree with the push to affirm gender identity in children are often silenced by the mainstream media or banned from social platforms.
“The kids that are struggling with gender dysphoria are not Christian or secular or Republican or liberal. This is affecting children from all kinds of families in the United States and certainly around the world as well,” Lahl said.
A recent study from the United Kingdom found a 5,000% increase among teenage girls going to gender clinics seeking help with the incongruence they experience between their internal sense of self and their biological sex.
While many factors are contributing to this surge, one clear reason behind it, Lahl said, is social contagion fueled by celebrities and social media. This idea is corroborated by a 2019 study from Brown University that found parents of children experiencing gender dysphoria saw their children experience pressure to fit in with their friend group.
“Kids are spending a lot of time on the internet or on Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube — you just have to follow the hashtag ‘transition' or 'transgender' and it’s everywhere. It’s being popularized by celebrities who come out as nonbinary, gender fluid, whatever,” Lahl explained.
“It seems to be more and more young girls that are hopping on this new fad. They think, ‘This will solve boys whistling at me if I don't look like a girl and I don't look pretty or have a nice shape,” she added.
“Trans Mission” also exposes the fear-mongering tactics used by some doctors: One mother shares how a medical professional scared her into thinking her teenage daughter would die by suicide unless she let them put her child on puberty blockers.
As Dr. Andre Van Mol, one of the physicians who scrutinizes transgender medical practices in the film, explains, it is often manipulatively posed to parents of trans-identifying children: “Would you rather have a live son or a dead daughter?" It is said in such bracing terms because if they do not allow their children to undergo the experimental practices they will likely die by suicide, despite no evidence for such a claim.
Parents opposed to their children’s desire to transition are also unable to rely on schools for support. One mother shared how, unbeknownst to her, her child’s teachers and school counselor “socially transitioned” her child by using her daughter's preferred pronouns.
Lahl called such methods “unconscionable” and “manipulative,” adding: “I have incredible sympathy for these parents because they feel like no one's in their corner. They feel like doctors are against them. The schools are against them and saying, ‘You should allow your child to change their pronouns.’”
In one particularly disturbing testimony, a de-transitioner recounts how a money-hungry doctor pushed him to undergo an unwanted gender-affirming surgery.
“These de-transitioners believed that fully medically and surgically transitioning to the opposite sex would fix their problems, when in fact they're left with bodies that have been mutilated and they have to live with these consequences forever,” Lahl said. “They’re left with realizing that it didn't fix anything.”
Through the documentary, Lahl says she hopes to provide parents with the tools necessary to combat the rush to transition children through life-altering experimental drugs and surgeries that remove their breasts and mutilate their genitals.
“When a doctor is rushing you to put your child on a path to medically and surgically transition or block puberty, parents need to be courageous and say, ‘No. We're not going to do that. Let's look at what other things we can do to help our child. We're going to find some other way to help our son or daughter. We're going to look at a really good assessment of what's going on in the family, how much time is spent on the internet, what's going on in school, what's going on in the community, what's going on with church or whatever it is.'”
By raising awareness about the push to transition children through experimental medical procedures, Lahl said she believes it’s possible to end what she believes is little more than the exploitation of young people struggling with gender dysphoria.
“There's a lot of really vulnerable people out there that don't even know that this is happening to children or they don’t know the level and frequency at which it’s happening,” she said. “But I believe this battle is totally winnable because most people are incredibly reasonable. When they watch this film and hear these stories, they will hopefully say, ‘This is not good, this is not proper, and we’re not going to do this.’”