“Transkids,” a documentary television miniseries featuring four transgender teenagers, is available for streaming via video on demand after airing in Israel last year.
The subject of a celebratory piece in The Times of Israel, the five-part TV documentary apparently aims to make a phenomenon that affects precious few into an acceptable, even noble, mainstream pursuit.
Medalia’s series is “a fascinating and sensitive window into the lives of these young people with gender dysphoria and their families,” The Times of Israel reports. “The teens are from different cities, and different religious and socio-economic backgrounds, but they all must deal with the common realities of Israeli life—including mandatory military service.”
“Transkids,” which Medalia filmed over the course of four years, profiles the transgender teens as they receive hormone treatments and sex-change surgeries forcing them to “transition” from females to males, or vice versa as the case may be.
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The procedures are brutal, but both the documentary and The Times of Israel’s piece about it make it all sound so normal, heroic even.
A good portion apparently focuses on the draft process for the Israeli Defense Force and the delicate matter of the four teens’ transgender status. National military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens over 18, although some exceptions are made.
Despite what looks like an obvious attempt to make these four individuals’ potential military service controversial, the Israeli Defense Force doesn’t appear to treat them all that differently.
“The only special consideration transgender soldiers receive is with regard to sleeping, showering and restroom arrangements,” The Times of Israel notes.
Two of the four teens featured by Medalia have been drafted so far.
In fact, despite the small ratio of transgender to cisgender teens in Israel, government officials already allow transgender individuals “to change their gender on their government-issued IDs without having undergone gender reassignment surgery,” the article says. “The government’s approval committee will also no longer require transgender individuals to undergo hormone therapy.”
I’m surprised and, frankly, saddened to see this documentary receive such traction and high praise in Israel. There is little evidence to show transgender teens are a widespread phenomenon there, or in the United States for that matter.
There is little scientific or medical information available to support treating gender dysphoria with hormone therapy or sex-change surgeries. In fact, any such information typically shows such drastic changes are harmful. But this documentary presents the four teens’ journeys as a war, even though the battles they’re fighting defy biological science or sound psychology.
Imagine a documentary showing how brave it is for anorexic patients to continue to refuse food, receive medical care that affirms their anorexia, and learn how to perpetuate their mental illness.
It’s one thing to highlight children who are suffering from gender dysphoria. One would hope these children would receive therapy, but ironically that appears to be the only medical care the teenagers featured in “Transkids” did not receive.
It’s quite another thing for Medalia, an adult, to make an entire documentary series about teenagers who suffer from dysphoria and treat it with such unconventional measures as removing breasts or penises in permanent surgeries, while heralding them as everyday, even normal, heroes.
This documentary serves to normalize and perpetuate a mindset that transgender children are common and their treatment—hormone therapy and sex-change surgeries—is obvious.
This is irresponsible on the part of the adults involved, especially Medalia, and an Israeli film industry that unabashedly celebrates “Transkids.”