As the father of three girls, California filmmaker and author Don Johnson set out in his latest documentary to uncover the truth about the transgenderism movement, what’s behind it, and why it’s affecting so many young people, especially girls.
The film, “Dysconnected: The Real Story Behind the Transgender Explosion,” tells the story of three detransitioners—those who began to transition to the opposite sex but changed their minds—and explores the opinions of medical experts, a teacher, a parent, and a spiritual leader. The 86-minute documentary premiered in Garden Grove, California, on Oct. 8.
“I am a father of four kids, three of whom are girls—all right in that teenage area—so that was probably my prime motivator. It’s a tough time to be a teenage girl,” Johnson told The Epoch Times.
The transgender movement isn’t just a passing fad affecting only the young people who transition, he said. Rather, it affects everyone—their friends, families, communities, and society in general.
“It affects everyone around them that now have to live as if you can just change sexes willy-nilly and that gender fluid is actually a thing,” Johnson said.
Not only are medical professionals, teachers, and school children expected to accept transgenderism as real, but many people now feel obliged to announce their pronouns in the workplace, according to Johnson.
In California, the government is passing laws that appear to be usurping parental authority and putting their power in the hands of the state, he said.
“So, it’s just an all-encompassing movement that I felt I needed to get a better handle on—what’s going on? What’s behind this? What's really driving this whole thing?” Johnson said.
Johnson claims that pharmaceutical companies, big businesses, government agencies, and activists are driving the phenomenon.
“This is a top-down movement driven by ideological people with a lot of money that are pushing this on institutions, that are then pushing it on caregivers of kids, who are then pushing it on kids,” he said. “This is a sociological phenomenon that has redefined psychological conditions [into the belief] that kids have to be a new gender.”
Depression and ConfusionDaisy Strongin, 24, one of the detransitioners featured in the film, told The Epoch Times that she was depressed as a teenager and confused about her gender. She had both of her healthy breasts removed when she was 20.
During bouts of sadness as a teenager, Strongin said she spent “hours and hours” on social media following transgender influencers. Convinced at 17 that she “must be trans,” Strongin cut her hair short and began dressing as a boy, but she couldn’t pass for a male because of her breasts and female voice.
When she turned 18, she began taking testosterone, and two years later, in 2018, she had a double mastectomy. Although she was fully aware at the time of the physical effects of “top surgery” and what her scarred chest would look like, she now deeply regrets her decision.
Strongin has since reembraced womanhood and is now married with a young son.
She said she hopes that sharing her story will help to restore “ethically mindful practices” in medicine, including mental health care.
“That’s all I want,” Strongin said. “I’m not trying to get all trans people to detransition. I just don’t think that we should be taking advantage of young people who are depressed, autistic, or going through mental health issues.”
The medical profession is “selling a product and ruining people’s lives and really not thinking about it from an ethical standpoint, and I think that needs to change,” she said.
Strongin traveled from her Chicago-area home to California to attend the premiere.
Brenda Lebsack, a teacher in Orange County, California, also appears in the film.
“My message is that schools are being used as a place of indoctrination about genders,” she told The Epoch Times. “We have books in our schools that teach kids that their gender changes like the weather based on their feelings, and this is in the primary grades: kindergarten, first, and second grades. And these are in our school libraries.”
Schools have left parents in the dark about how hard they’re pushing gender ideology, according to Lebsack.
“And then we have the medical side that's affirming this," she said. "We have the counseling—the American Psychological Association—that’s affirming this ... and our teachers union.”
Parents need to see how education policies are “influencing and incentivizing kids to identify as these nonconforming genders and how the medical side is really hurting them,” according to Lebsack.
She said children are being harmed through medical interventions such as the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and life-altering gender-transition surgeries.
“Our kids are being used as human experiments,” Lebsack said.
‘Social Contagion’Johnson supports the theories of Dr. Lisa Littman and “Irreversible Damage” author Abigail Shrier, who have called the “transgender craze” among girls a “social contagion.”
“It’s certainly partially a social contagion. It’s also partially a redefinition of conditions that have always been there,” Johnson said.
Today’s pseudoscience is conflating psychological disorders, such as body dysmorphia, autism, and trauma from sexual abuse, with gender theory and has failed to treat children for these specific conditions, he said.
In the past, these children were given the psychological, emotional, and spiritual support they needed to heal.
“Now, we don’t even explore that with those kids,” Johnson said. “We’re just taking that condition and labeling it not as a psychological condition but transgenderism, as this new biological thing, and then putting them on a path to medicalization and surgery.”
The transgender community’s offer of acceptance and celebration appeals to lonely and socially awkward children who spend a lot of time online, especially those who are autistic, according to Johnson.
These children can change their pronouns on Instagram profiles and suddenly gain thousands of followers, he said.
Girls who identify as transgender are often exposed to hardcore pornography before they even reach their teens, according to Johnson.
“It’s violent, misogynistic, and incredibly degrading,” especially to young women, he said, and many of those who are exposed to it want to “opt-out of being a girl.”
Johnson disagrees with the notion that gender is based on a social construct rather than biological reality.
Transgender philosophy embraces the idea that “the body is meaningless” insofar as one’s gender identity and authentic self, and “the real you” is “some sort of mystical thing” made up of a cluster of ideas and choices separate from one’s own flesh and blood, he said.
“I just reject that flatly. That’s not the nature of reality,” Johnson said. “It’s not just a fad, it is an implementation of what I consider to be an anti-God, anti-human, very dark, and insidious philosophy that’s now having terrible effects.”