Talented TV documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux, has taken on some serious topics throughout his career, and now he turns his attention to gender dysphoria. This programme takes a slightly different and more serious approach, as opposed to Weird Weekends which aimed at making viewers chuckle.
Louis Theroux has not only made insightful and thought provoking television but, once again, has proven his skill in creating a great rapport with the people he interviews and getting information from them that they thought would never be shared. He maintains fluid conversation, somehow always keeping the situation natural. Through this, the programme opened up and presented the unspoken truth about a section of society largely ignored and misunderstood. The question raised is what decision parents should make when choosing whether or not their child is too young to know if they want to be a boy or a girl.
The programme covered three families; the first contained a five-year-old boy, originally called Sebastian. In the space of a month, Sebastian changed his name to Camille and wanted to be seen as a girl. She was very switched on and self-aware about whom she felt she was. Theroux did a great job talking to her, sweetly asking her for tea before getting poured pencils from Camille’s bucket. Camille moved on to performing a well-choreographed dance to a Lady Gaga song, before Theroux asked her, ‘Do you think you ever want to be called Sebastian again?’ She replied with a decisive and eye opening ‘Never. Always want to be a girl. Always.’
Then there was 14-year-old Nicki who was already going through a number of transformations and having a hard time due to school bullying and social alienation. Theroux shared a great moment with her when he said ‘When I was 14 and turning 15, that was probably the hardest year of my life, it really was’. It was clear he was becoming emotional himself over the hardships these individuals were facing. The final child involved in the documentary was Crystal, who used to be known as Cole. She provided the other side of the argument, that children may change their minds about what sex they identify as later in life, and that children are too young to fully know who they are. When Crystal was asked by Theroux whether she thought she’d want to be called Crystal or Cole when she becomes an adult, she said ‘I’ll go back to Cole, I think’.
The programme depicts an emotional and controversial rollercoaster for everyone involved, from parents to surgeons. When Theroux visited the sex transformation clinic, it appeared all the people he interviewed going through such surgery were very happy with their gender transformation. However, statistics show that there’s 20% rate of people who regret their surgery afterwards. I think it’s only right that the programme should have included interviewees that were in that 20% demographic to present a fairer picture to the viewers. The show didn’t come to any conclusions over the question on what parents should do. It only made it clear how difficult it is to deal with such a condition as gender dysphoria. Nevertheless, it’s important that the condition is getting this coverage, and the programme certainly opened up a platform for debate.