Children with gender dysphoria not only are being offered puberty blockers but surgery to remove or alter their body parts.
No one, including doctors, “wants to be framed as a bigot,” says Jennifer Lahl, creator of the film “Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender?”
“That’s one of the reasons why doctors are feeling pushed into doing things that they know is not good medicine, because they don’t want to be shunned by their professional society,” says Lahl, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Kallie Fell.
Lahl, president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, has a background in pediatric nursing. She previously made films on the topic of surrogacy and women who sell their eggs to help other women have a baby.
Lahl says she was alarmed to learn that “children, young boys, young girls, before they medically and surgically transitioned to the opposite sex—which I would say that they can’t do—are offered fertility preservation.”
Little girls, she says she learned, are being given the opportunity “to freeze and bank their eggs so that when they transition to a man and they grow up … they can go to the egg bank and get their own eggs.”
Lahl began doing more research on the radical transgender agenda for children and ultimately decided to make a documentary highlighting the voices of experts, educators, parents, and activists. The result: “Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender?”
Lahl joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to talk about why she chose to make the film and what she learned about the transgender movement in the process.
Also on today’s show, we break down New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to resign amid allegations that he sexually harassed 11 female state employees. We also discuss the rise of woke books for children and, as always, we crown our “Problematic Women of the Week.”
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Lauren Evans: Welcome back. We have a treat for you today on “Problematic Women.” I have Jennifer Lahl from The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, and she has a new movie out called “Trans Mission.” Welcome, Jennifer.
Jennifer Lahl: Great. Thanks for letting me be on your show today. It’s really fun to be with you.
Evans: I want to take a quick moment and just play a quick clip from the trailer of your movie “Trans Mission.”
Evans: Jennifer, why did you decide to produce the documentary “Trans Mission”?
Lahl: I get asked that question a lot because most of my past films have been in the area of assisted reproduction, [which are] documentary films about young women who sold their eggs to help them have a baby or women who are surrogate mothers who had devastating complications of their surrogate pregnancies. And my background is in pediatric nursing. … I saw the trans issue creeping into my space on assisted reproduction. We started having men having babies, and then we had trans men and trans women having babies.
And then a new study came out that said trans women who were really biological males now want uterine transplants. And that’s all in my space of high-tech pregnancies. And then because of my background in pediatric nursing … I found out that children, young boys, young girls before they medically and surgically transitioned to the opposite sex—which I would say that they can’t do—are offered fertility preservation. Little girls, young girls, are offered to freeze and bank their eggs so that when they transition to a man and they grow up and want to have children, they can go to the egg bank and get their own eggs.
And similarly, the same thing for young boys, [they] are offered to bank and freeze their sperm. Once they become a woman in scare quotes, they can go back to the sperm bank and use their sperm to have their biological children. Sort of that collision of assisted reproduction and my background in pediatric nursing and the fact that this is harmful and dangerous to children, [that’s why] I had to make “Trans Mission.”
Evans: What stood out to me about the documentary was just the sheer number of voices that you were able to include. Can you just introduce us to a few that stick out to you, and tell us where they stand on our traditional political scale?
Lahl: We’re able to do sit-down interviews. Some, of course, because of the pandemic, were Zoom interviews with 17 people. Again, because of my background in nursing, clinical nursing, we of course interviewed doctors, and we interviewed doctors on both sides of the debate. A pediatrician, for example, was interviewed who supports this, and she runs the gender clinic at her university. And then we interviewed, of course, doctors who are on the opposite side and say that we should not be doing this, who are pediatric endocrinologists or general family practice doctors.
We had to interview parents. They’re the ones at front and center, are really dealing with this with their own children, their own schools, their neighborhood, their families. And then a good handful of activists. People are just out there speaking out against this for various reasons.
And then finally, the most probably important voice, which is really the rising voice in this debate is what we call the detransitioners, people who were told if you medically and surgically transitioned, that will fix your problems, your gender dysphoria, your feelings of being born in the wrong body. Only to find out after they had done that full medical and surgical transition, it didn’t solve their problems.
Evans: Wow. You mentioned that you were a nurse for over 20 years. And … not only did you produce this film and lots of other films, you run The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. What was that journey from becoming a nurse to where you are now as a public advocate?
Lahl: Well, nurses are often really motivated by education. I mean, we are educators. We are always educating our patients on how to take their medication, how to take better care of their health. And in the case of pediatrics, … the bulk of my nursing career was educating parents as well as children. Because you want children to—especially a newly diagnosed young kid has to learn how to test their blood glucose and give their own insulin and stuff like that.
It was a natural move into the educational nonprofit world in a space that I already cared a lot about. I worked in academic university medical centers, UCLA, UC San Francisco, Children’s Hospital Oakland, where you’re dealing with the next wave of what’s the new technology that was coming down the pike.
I’m really interested in the ethics. We got to get it right. It’s not just “Can we do it?” The question [isn’t] can we do it, but should we do it? And in the case of parents, they have to make life-and-death, on-the-fly decisions for their children that they have to live with the rest of their lives. Making sure that parents can make good decisions for the well-being of their children.
Evans: I want to start with the journey of a child that comes out, let’s say in a liberal state, and says: “OK, Mom, Dad, I’m transgender.” Why do folks now advocate to rush to put them on puberty blockers? And then what are the dangers of those puberty blockers when they go on them?
Lahl: Well, I think one of the rushes is that it’s a really highly polarized ideology right now. It’s become very political and you’re either a bigot, a transphobe, a hater, or you’re tolerant. And so nobody wants to be framed as a bigot. That’s one of the reasons why doctors are feeling pushed into doing things that they know is not good medicine, because they don’t want to be shunned by their professional society. …
[The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society] support the transitioning of minors. You’re out of step. There’s that sort of ideological pressure. There’s societal, there’s social media pressures. How many times do you open up the newspaper and a new celebrity has said, “I’m, non-binary, I’m asexual.” … Governor Cuomo’s daughter just came out as this new demisexual. It’s sort of the new hip thing. And it’s trending on all the social media.
Kids are spending a lot of time on TikTok and Instagram and Snapchat, and this is all just blowing up there. I think that’s the rush. It’s now seen as this is the appropriate—rubber-stamped by the professional bodies—that this is the appropriate therapy and treatment of these young children.
Evans: Why not first try something like counseling rather than pushing these kids to alter their bodies forever?
Lahl: Yeah, because in the olden days, when I was working pediatric nursing, that was the rational. Let’s just wait. There is no rush. Let’s get good counseling. Let’s find out what’s going in in the home, in the school, in the community. How much time are these kids spending on social media? And get a really good assessment of what’s going on and treat those kinds of problems.
And that’s really unfortunate because some of my colleagues and my people that are … I watch on social media say much of this is driven by money. One of the physicians in the film says, “Once you have medicalized a child, you have a patient for life.”
… I’m from California, like Caitlyn Jenner. Caitlyn Jenner will forever have to be medicalized in order to present himself as a woman. And I say “himself” because he is a man. He is a biological man, and I refuse to call Caitlyn Jenner a woman.
Evans: One of the biggest arguments that someone who would want to put a child on puberty blockers is that if you don’t do it, they’re going to be at higher risk of suicide. That they’re going to struggle with depression. Have you found that to be the case?
Lahl: I found that that threat is very prevalent. And several of the parents we interviewed in “Trans Mission” say oftentimes … that a physician would say to a parent in front of the child, “If you don’t affirm your child’s desire to transition, they could take their own life.” And this data doesn’t bear that out, so it’s just a scare tactic.
Evans: And how old are these kids? Maybe you can make the argument that someone who’s 17, 18 is closer to being an adult. But how does the age of consent play in children who are making these decisions?
Lahl: Again, it’s scary to me that there’s children as young as 4 and 5 that are being allowed to at least socially transition. And by socially, I mean they are being allowed to dress in opposite-sex clothing. They’re being allowed to call themselves a boy name if they’re a little girl and use their preferred pronouns and stuff like that. It is becoming younger and younger, but again, it gets back to what is really going on with this new trend that we have all these young people that are born in the wrong body.
Evans: You mentioned the word “trend.” How is this playing out, not necessarily as a growing medical diagnosis, but a social contaminant within schools and friend groups with kids?
Lahl: What I’ve found in my research for this film, and then of course, just speaking with people in the making of the film, is that a lot of these children have been perhaps somewhere on the autism spectrum. One of the dads in the film, his son has been diagnosed as autistic. One little girl has struggled when her parents went through a nasty divorce.
And so that causes these stressors and trauma that they’re experiencing, and they’re reacting to their trauma. And today, a lot of times people just say, “Oh, well, you’re probably born in the wrong body and you should live your life and that will solve your … ”
It gets, again, back to the detransitioners. This was what will fix your problems. This is what will deal with your trauma. And kids that are normally bullied or on the spectrum, that are outcasts, are now celebrated. If they come out as trans, they’re like the cool kids, versus just that awkward little boy that nobody wants to pick to be on their sport team, like was the case when I was growing up.
Evans: You also had on the documentary a woman that has been on the show and I think is such a powerful voice, and that’s Natasha Chart. She’s some radical feminist. And it’s just amazing to me how these stories all play together, of showing how [we] as women—there’s such a history of women not being thought as good as, but this is just playing out in a different way.
Lahl: Well, Natasha would be probably one of those women that may be called a problematic woman, because she doesn’t toe the politically correct narrative. And when you look at feminists, radical feminist groups, they have fought long and hard for safe places for women. And now we’ve got this gentleman who’s competing as a woman in the Olympics coming up soon. We’ve got in my state, California, we have way too many, over 100, several hundred men who have now identified as women so they can be incarcerated in female prisons.
And so women who have fought long and hard like Natasha Chart for protections of women and young girls, [they] see this being whitewashed by [President Joe] Biden and [Vice President] Kamala Harris’ Equality Act, and legislation that’s happening here on Capitol Hill that is trying to be inclusive and protective of people like transgender people, but at the expense of women and girls.
Evans: The parents in the documentary … when their kids told them, “I’m transgender,” they were like, “Wow, this is the end of the world.” They were just trying to find additional resources. And they were trying to find people to support them through their journey, who will give them fair answers and will tell them what they can and should do. What resources would you recommend for anybody, or especially any parent, in this situation?
Lahl: First, I would just agree with what you just said. And I was really saddened sitting down with a lot of these parents because they do feel like everybody’s against them. Their pediatrician is telling them, “You need to affirm this.” Their school is saying, “You need to affirm your child.” Oftentimes their own family [is], so it’s causing stress within families.
There are good therapists out there. There are good pediatricians out there. And when I say good, [these are] people that are going to look at what’s going on with this child and not rush them down on the transgender track of conversion to the opposite sex. People are welcome to contact me, but there’s a lot of parent support groups out there that are coming together.
We’ve seen that just since the critical race theory debates and … the shutting down of schools during the COVID pandemic. I mean, parents are a powerful bloc that can come together. And so there are several really good parent support groups out there that can instantly put people wherever you live [in touch] with perhaps somebody in your town or your community that would be a good resource.
Evans: Jennifer, why do you use tools like documentaries to get out your message?
Lahl: Well, stories are powerful, and like it or not, we’re a visual culture. I mean, we know people are less literate and less willing to read. I open up articles all the time and they’ll say, “Read time three minutes.” They’re trying to hook you. “It’s only going to take you three minutes. Please read this.”
But we’ve just found that telling people’s stories invites people in. And there’s a lot of noise around the trans debate, so there’s a lot of screaming and name-calling and viciousness out there. But through the power of storytelling, you can really get people to stop and listen and go, “Oh, I never thought about that side of this debate.”
Evans: What has the reception to “Trans Mission” been? I saw on YouTube, it was awesome, it [already] had almost 40,000 views. But what have folks who’ve seen the documentary been telling you about it?
Lahl: It’s had a lot of views, and it’s not even been out a month yet. It’s had over 40,000 views. Overwhelmingly, the comments are very positive. We thought immediately maybe YouTube would pull the film, because we know that books have been pulled, when you think of Ryan Anderson’s book or Abigail Shrier’s book.
… We’re just really pleased, with the reception, that YouTube hasn’t pulled the film. And we’d been told so many—immediately, I got emails from parents, these parents support groups, that said, “Thank you so much for making this film.”
And what we’ve noticed, though, even though a lot of people are watching it, there’s not a lot of … that thing that you measure, the “likes” and the “shares,” because people don’t want to be outed, we think. And if you like and share something, people go, “Oh, you’re one of them. You’re anti-trans. You’re a transphobe. You’re a …”
… And people are privately contacting me. Not to say that people aren’t liking or sharing it, but our social media team, this is their space, they’re like “This is really an interesting phenomenon here.” That a lot of people are watching it, but not a lot of people were saying, “Hey, I want you all to watch this film. It’s really great.”
But it gets back to just how polemic and how charged this topic is. And people don’t want to lose their job. People don’t want to have their kids go to school and go, “Oh, your mom and dad are haters and bigots.”
Evans: That is so interesting. And as someone who’s been … at The Heritage Foundation, we’ve had content taken down for very similar reasons. And so, wow. That is really interesting. But we appreciate your putting up the good fight and getting out really thoughtful and important information. If any of our listeners would like to watch the video, where can they find it? And where can they find your work?
Lahl: It’s on our YouTube channel, The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network channel. It’s free to watch. It’s also on Vimeo. We put it on a second platform.
Evans: Just in case.
Lahl: Yeah, just in case. Or they can go to our website, cbc-network.org, and find all of our films there. But yeah, please do watch it. And if you’re bold enough, like it and share it. Tell your friends to watch it.
Evans: Well, Jennifer, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Lahl: My pleasure. Thank you.
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