CBC pulls controversial transgender documentary because of viewer feedback
Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best is the name of a BBC documentary focusing on transgender children that was scheduled to air on CBC on Tuesday night but a few hours before the film was supposed to be shown the station pulled it and replaced it with Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas.
According to CBC, they received a lot of negative comments on their social media channels pertaining to the film, that many feel is not only inappropriate, but is full of mistruths and has the potential to be quite harmful.
Transgender activists referred to the film as “transphobic” and “harmful,” and in a statement, the CBC said that they decided to not show the film based on the response that they were getting pertaining to it.
“We felt that we were not in a position to adequately support the conversation and debate that would be sparked by the airing of the doc and so, made a decision to pull it from the schedule,” said CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson in a statement to the National Post.
If CBC felt that way, then why on earth would they plan to show the “controversial” film in the first place?
The more obvious reason why they cancelled the film, is because they did not expect such reaction from Canadians, and were simply looking to blame viewer reaction for why they did not air the film.
Taking to Twitter, CBC wrote: “In light of our own further review of the doc, coupled with audience reaction, we have decided not to air Transgender Kids. We think there are other docs that better offer insight into the realities of the transgender community and we look forward to airing those in the future.”
Well, if they, the CBC thought that there were other, better documentaries out there that deal with issues surrounding transgender children, why would they opt to show this one?
The film was first shown in the UK in January, and was actually shot in Canada.
Canadian sexologist Kenneth Zucker, has a prominent part in the film, a fact that does not sit well with activists as he is a vocal critic of the gender affirmative approach.
Zucker actually used to be the head of Toronto’s Gender Identity Clinic, which is a facility run by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and back in 2015, the clinic underwent an external review after alligations were made that Zucker and his colleagues were actually attempting to cure people who identified as transgender.
The review did not find any evidence to substantiate alligations, but Zucker was fired anyway and the clinic disbanded.
“Little kids can present with extreme gender dysphoria, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to grow up to continue to have gender dysphoria,” he says in the film.
The BBC state that they conducted a prior investigation into the film and determined that it was impartial.
They received similar calls from transgender activists to not show the controversial documentary, but showed it anyway.
Following the showing of the documentary in the UK, a UK charity, Trans Info called the film “violent and one-sided.
Transgender Activists call the film “transphobic and “harmful”
So what about the film do activists feel is “transphobic” and “harmful?”
The film in large part discusses the role of parents who have children who show signs of gender dysphoria – a condition in which a person does not identify with their physical gender, and instead identifies with the opposite gender.
One of the take home messages from the film, implies that gender dysphoria is not a condition, but is simply a sign of mental health issues, a fact that is very upsetting to activists who denounce the film.
One such activist is Joshua M. Ferguson, an Ontario film maker who does not identify as neither male or female.
Tweeting at CBC, he writes: “Please do not air this documentary. It disseminates inaccurate information about trans youth and gender dysphoria, and will feed transphobia.”
“The documentary spreads misinformation and includes problematic ‘experts.’ CBC should NOT be broadcasting this harmful film,” added Ferguson.
“Join me & appeal to @CBC @cbcdocs to pull tonight’s broadcast of this harmful documentary. The film has been widely discredited by experts & will feed transphobia with its unbalanced representation,” he continues.
Cindy Holmes tweets: “This documentary is very harmful. Disturbing that CBC is airing this. The film does not represent best practices in health & social work. @CBC @cbcdocs should interview gender affirmative providers & supportive parents of trans children.”
A synopsis of the film reads: “Increasingly, parents are encouraged to adopt a ‘gender affirmative’ approach … but is this approach right?”
A petition has already received more than 11,000 signitures on Change.Org to not show the film in Canada, and an online letter of complaint from Trans Media Watch has already been submitted.
The documentary was supposed to air at 10 P.M. on Tuesday.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca