Don Johnson, a Catholic filmmaker based in Anaheim, California, will premiere Dysconnected: The Real Story Behind the Transgender Explosion, a new film on the transgender phenomenon sweeping the nation, on Saturday, October 8, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Freed Theater on the Christ Cathedral Campus of the Diocese of Orange, 13280 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, California. The event will include a panel discussion and opportunity to meet Johnson and some of those interviewed for the film, including “detransitioner” Daisy Strongin, billboard activist Chris Elston, therapist Pamela Garfield-Jaeger, teacher Brenda Lebsack and Erin Brewer of Advocates Protecting Children. The film also includes interviews with Daisy Strongin, Ryan T. Anderson, Abigail Favale, Christopher West, Carl Trueman, Margaret McCarthy, Michael Hanby, Benjamin Wiker, and others.
Dysconnected, which is executive produced and distributed by Ignatius Press, will be available for purchase after October 8th through Ignatius Press or available to be streamed online. For additional information about the film, including purchasing tickets for the October 8th premiere or to buy the film or stream it online, visit www.dysconnectedmovie.com.
Johnson is a former Evangelical Protestant and evangelist who converted to the Catholic Faith and entered the Catholic Church in 2015. “I read my way into the Church,” says Johnson, “Studying history and doing apologetics as a Protestant led me into the Catholic Church.” He is a public speaker and the author of the recently published book Twisted Unto Destruction: How ‘Bible Alone’ Theology Made the World a Worse Place (Catholic Answers, 2022); visit his website at www.donjohnsonministries.org.
CWR: What led you to make Dysconnected?
Don Johnson: I am the father of four children, including three girls who are either teens or close to that age. I have observed the teen girl world for the past 10 years, and it is a disaster. My wife and I are protective parents, but we know enough of that world to know it is horrendous. My last movie was entitled Unprotected: The Untold Story of the Sexual Revolution, which focused on the sexual revolution and effects of widespread use of the birth control pill. Although I didn’t plan it this way, Dysconnected has turned out to be a follow-up of that film; the transgender movement follows in a logical progression from the sexual revolution and is Satanic in nature. And, it is overwhelmingly girls who are transitioning.
CWR: How did you select the name “Dysconnected”?
Johnson: It is a play on the words disconnected and dysphoria, as in gender dysphoria. God made us for unity with our bodies, families and reality. The trans movement is a disconnect from that. Our God is a God of unity; Satan wants to tear apart that unity. It sums up the film.
CWR: What surprised you most in the making of this film?
Johnson: I was surprised how pervasive the transgender movement is. Just a few years ago, none of us had heard of it, but today it is quite a significant movement. I have a friend who is a fourth-grade teacher, who reports to me that something like 30 or 40 percent of her students are somewhere on the transgender spectrum, whether it be changing their names or pronouns, or something more involved. It involves a broad range of activities; being “non-binary” is the thing right now.
But I also came to see how dark the whole movement is at its roots. It is a fad, like Goth was in the 90s, but transgenderism is much darker, and more insidious at its core. I don’t blame the girls who are sucked into it, or even the teachers who go along with it to save their jobs. The real evil is being done by those who promote it at the higher levels. It is a dark, anti-family, anti-person movement.
CWR: In the opening of your film, we meet “detransitioner” Daisy Strongin. We see her years ago as a young teen revealing the scars of a recent double mastectomy.
Johnson: Yes, it is shocking. It is self-mutilation. I could have been more graphic in the film than that, but I chose not to. I could have shown images of surgeons ripping out portions of a person’s forearm, or taking chunks of a person’s thighs to be molded into a phallus.
CWR: Body parts that don’t work, they just appear like parts that do.
Johnson: Yes. That is the sad thing about gender reassignment surgery. Once you’re done, parts of your body no longer work to any degree. They instead may be forever medical patients, using drugs for the rest of their lives, as the body may not be able to produce the proper hormones to keep them going. At no point in the future will they be able to live lives like the rest of us.
CWR: I noticed that Daisy, after detransitioning, still has the deep voice of a man. Is that related to her taking of testosterone? Will her voice ever go back to its original feminine sound?
Johnson: It is related to her use of testosterone. Unfortunately, over the course of years the voice deepens, and it never changes back. She’ll have that deep voice the rest of her life. The regret of many of the people in this situation is immense.
CWR: Dysconnected talks about some of the factors leading girls with gender dysphoria into the transgender movement. The first one you mention is autism.
Johnson: Yes, about 30 percent of those transitioning are on the autistic spectrum, although some people think that number is higher. This is because people with autism are more susceptible to being sucked into cult-like behaviors. They don’t fit well into neuro-typical social situations, and being accepted into a transgender group is a way for them to feel better socially. They tend to get hyper-focused on one topic or a small number of topics, and then they make a decision and are locked into it. They think, “Yes, transitioning is the answer to my problems.” People with autism are often not comfortable in their bodies, and can’t control their bodies as they’d like, and then come to accept the lie that the reason they are uncomfortable is that they have been born into the wrong body and need to change.
CWR: The film also touches on widespread porn use as a factor leading girls to transgenderism.
Johnson: Yes, porn is the sexual objectification of women, and the reality is that women don’t like to be objectified, but hate it. They are treated like objects. Porn is also becoming increasingly violent and sadistic, and girls are being exposed to it at younger and younger ages. It leads some girls to decide, “I don’t want to be a girl anymore.”
CWR: Girls with gender dysphoria have psychological and emotional issues that need to be addressed, or so say those you interview, and are led to seek hormone treatments and surgery to improve their situation.
Johnson: Yes. It is similar to years past when we did lobotomies on overly emotional women. It was non-scientific, a quack medical approach to a problem that is a psychological, spiritual and personality-related condition.
CWR: Many therapists today are not attempting to help girls with these problems, but affirming their desire to transition.
Johnson: As Ryan Anderson points out, there is a new movement in therapy that is the opposite of the way things should be. Therapists today are supposed to affirm a decision of your choice to be someone other than you are. Rather than affirm to a girl that she is a girl, if she expresses an interest in being a boy, we’re going to try to convert them into being a boy by giving them a body more like that of a boy. In many states, it is illegal for therapists to do anything else; therapists have to engage in affirmation therapy, which may include converting girls into something else than what they are.
If someone comes to a therapist with anorexia, would we want the therapist to say, “You’re right, you are overweight, let’s get you some liposuction”? In the same way, if a girl comes to a therapist and says, “I feel like I’m a boy,” do we want the therapist to say, “Okay, let’s make you into a boy”? Affirmation care is a misnomer. It is actually the opposite. Not long ago, what some deride as conversion therapy would just be considered therapy, and would not be outlawed.
CWR: Some transgender activists like to say, “Better to have a trans kid than a dead kid.”
Johnson: This is what parents often hear from trans activists: if you don’t allow your child to transition, he or she will commit suicide. As our therapist says in the movie, it is emotional blackmail. You’re not supposed to use a suicide threat to get what you want, but that is what they are doing now.
But it is a lie. If you look at countries that have good data on those who have transitioned, such as Sweden, you see that suicide rates for those who transition go up, not down. Transitioning does not fix anything; people are not being healed. They may have a brief reprieve—Daisy said she felt better for three weeks—but eventually suicide rates go up.
CWR: The debate over transgenderism ultimately comes down to competing views of anthropology and human life.
Johnson: It does. It is a debate about the meaning of life and what it means to be a person. The traditional view of Western Civilization is that God made man in His image and likeness, to love Him and others, and with a purpose in life. The trans movement views the person’s body as disconnected from his identity. The real us is an ethereal thing, a ball of ideas and emotions, which has nothing to do with the body. It is gnostic dualism; the body is a tool we can use but can be discarded. It is not the real us. This is an ancient heresy, a resurgence of the ideas of thinkers like René Descartes, who told us, “I think, therefore I am.”
The so-called “transhumanists” see this very clearly. They see us as a ball of ideas which can be downloaded into a computer so that we can live forever as robots.
While the average teenage girl struggling to make it through life is typically unaware of this, what is really being pushed is a dualist view of the body, a revolt against reality, and ultimately, a revolt against God. That is what makes this movement so dark, it says, “I will not submit to being a creature of God.” It is anti-God and anti-family at its root.
But, fighting against nature and reality is a losing proposition. In the end, all it does is cause pain and suffering.
CWR: Some of those you interview assert that a contraceptive society leads it to become a society that embraces transgenderism.
Johnson: Widespread acceptance of “the Pill” in the 1960s was key to our separating our personhood from our bodies. It was a disconnection of who we are as people and from the inherent meaning of our bodies. When the feminist says a woman should sterilize herself through the use of contraception, what does it mean to be a woman? It means she is separating herself from her reproductive capacity, which is intimately tied up in her being a woman.
As humans, we are made in the image and likeness of God, and as a part of that, we procreate. When we intentionally eliminate our ability to procreate, sex distinction is no more. The sexes are interchangeable; why not change our gender if we want? If we start with contraception, transgenderism is a logical follow-up. If you accept that womanhood is not connected intimately to a woman’s body, then there is no reason to exclude transgenderism.
It is important to note, however, that there are many feminists who oppose the transgender movement. They are derided as “TERFs,” or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.
CWR: The trans movement is also anti-parent, some of those you interview say, and try to keep parents in the dark about what they are saying to their children.
Absolutely. I didn’t see this as clearly before I made the movie. Why is it so anti-parent? Because transgenderism is anti-body, and does not see the body as part of one’s identity, and the body is intimately tied to your parents and is how you came into the world. If you fight against reality, you are going to fight against the body, and therefore the nuclear family, which is tied into your bodily existence.
CWR: You also describe transgenderism as a cult.
Johnson: It is a cult. They do all the things that cults typically do. They cut you off from other sources of authority, tie you into charismatic leaders and a group into which you are endeared, and if you ever dare to step away, you are entirely excluded. As detransitioners will tell you: I was a star, then I began asking questions, and I was out. The love and acceptance were gone.
The trans movement also uses its own language. They refer to your pre-transition name as your “dead name,” for example. Once you transition, that name and your former identity are dead to you. That is total cult behavior. Your new identity now is with this group.
CWR: There is also a great deal of money some can make on the trans movement.
Johnson: Yes. It used to be that the medical profession would have to wait for sick people to show up for treatment before they could make any money. But in the trans movement, you take healthy people, make them sick and dependent on the drugs you give them for the rest of their lives. You’re talking some real money here, and you can treat anyone, marketing your services to the healthy and creating a new class of patients.
CWR: Your film also notes that the real evil is not in the confused teen who transitions, but in those higher up in the movement who promote it and should know better.
Johnson: Yes. It is not the kids’ fault. We should be very accepting of them and their struggles. We want them to be whole and happy, and are sorry they are being mistreated by this industry. It is destroying lives. There is a Reddit group of destransitioners who, I believe, are 40,000 members strong. They are angry at the ideologues who are pushing this agenda.
CWR: Without giving away the ending of the film, there is a surprise that happens in Daisy’s life that shows her overcoming to some degree the effects of her time in the transgender movement.
Johnson: Yes, it is a hopeful story. I hope more trapped in this movement can move towards a more joyful, fulfilled life as she has.
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