Last July, I published a piece here on the desperate plight of “detransitioners”—men and women who regret their sex-change surgeries and have boldly chosen to speak up for themselves in public. The piece was well-received, with the exception of people like Fr. James Martin, S.J., who accused me of accelerating the “demonization of transgender people.”
After the piece made the initial rounds, it got a second wind from an unexpected source: a high-profile trans Twitter activist who quote-tweeted me, inciting his peers and fans to go forth and fill my mentions with abusive bilge. They duly did so, and my productivity took a nose-dive for several days thereafter as I waded through the mess. A couple of the very detransitioners I had profiled were also pulled into the fray and proved themselves more than capable of dispatching their opponents in eloquently savage fashion. They appreciated my piece, meanwhile, which was all the justification I needed for writing it.
Then, one morning, I woke up to find that my account had been suspended for a week, for violating Twitter’s guidelines. Of course.
From one perspective, in a post-Elon Twitter world, my little censorship story is already dated. And yet, when understood in the broader landscape of media censorship, it is still relevant. Twitter underwent a regime shift, but even there, the balance of power may yet swing back. Meanwhile, the rest of Big Tech is just as censorious as ever.
Case in point, Vimeo’s recent disappearance of the new documentary Dead Name, which traces the harrowing stories of three parents whose children have been snatched away by the trans agenda. The fifty-minute project was released to the platform on December 20, 2022. It sold briskly, drawing a global viewership that spanned over sixteen countries. Then, just over a month later, without forewarning the filmmakers or the buyers, Vimeo deleted the film and replaced its page with the generic message, “Gone, baby, gone!”
“We can confirm that Vimeo removed the video in question for violating our Terms of Service prohibiting discriminatory or hateful content,” the company told Fox News. “We strive to enforce these policies objectively and consistently across our platform. Vimeo has notified the account owner and all purchases have been refunded.”
The abrupt censorship is reminiscent of Amazon’s February 2021 move to pull Ryan T. Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally in all formats. Those of us following along at the time will remember how “culture-warring” conservatives were assured that they were paranoid over nothing, and it was surely all a mundane technical glitch. Two years later, a search for the title continues to turn up zero Amazon results.
As with Anderson’s book, there is nothing in Dead Name that meets any remotely reasonable standard of “hateful content.” It is tightly focused on three families. Each parent is heartbroken, measured, and compelling. Amy tells the story of her teen daughter, who was provided with testosterone by Planned Parenthood. Bill grieves the death by cancer of his son, Sean, who began to “transition” in college after years of severe health and body image struggles. Then Helen tells the story of her very young son, Jonas, who became brainwashed into believing he was a girl at the suggestion of Helen’s lesbian ex-partner. These suggestions were reinforced by supervisors at his daycare, who matter-of-factly informed Helen of her son’s new “identity” as if she had no choice in the matter. (His is the only story ending with a faint glimmer of hope that he might yet make his way back to reality.)
Helen’s inclusion is especially striking, as she is far from a stereotypical participant in this dialogue. But filmmaker Taylor Reece was intent on demonstrating the terrifying scope of this new indoctrination, right down to the level of little Jonas’s daycare. Christian Post journalist Brandon Showalter, who contributed heavily to the project, told me Helen’s story is far from the only “atypical” case he has encountered. Her presence suggests an unexpected realignment, where Christians and conservatives come alongside all kinds of shattered parents and bring their stories to light, however widely their worldviews may otherwise diverge.
But Vimeo is uninterested in platforming this sort of daring, difficult, and even unifying work. It would rather we all pretend such stories didn’t exist. Fortunately, Reece tells me rentals and sales have “skyrocketed” since the film was re-homed to its own dedicated site. She is unsurprised by the censorship, despite the initial shock of the scrubbing. It’s only to be expected when activists hold the reins of power. Still, she hopes buzz around the project can remain focused on what drove her to make it in the first place: devastated families and their stories. “We can talk about censorship,” she says, “but it's more important to talk about how children are altering their bodies and are being led down a path of lifelong medicalization.”
We wish Reece, Showalter, and their dedicated colleagues every success in exposing this new face of the culture of death. May the truth shine in bright defiance of those who would keep parents and children in darkness.
Bethel McGrew is an essayist and social critic.
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