This tweet from Christian philosopher James Anderson caught my eye. Anderson is reacting to a clip from an episode of a Netflix show called The Babysitter’s Club which addresses a transgender child. In the clip, the older girl reprimands the doctor and nurse for not recognizing that Bailey (a biological male) is, in fact, a girl. Anderson writes:
Christians, if this doesn't convince you to ditch Netflix, I wonder what would. Netflix is one of the leading propagandists for radical transgender ideology and it's targeting kids. The message being broadcast here isn't merely misguided: it's dangerous and destructive. https://t.co/azggMQXGtE
— James Anderson (@proginosko) July 29, 2020
The filmmakers clearly want to communicate a message which is listed right in the tweet: “Misgendering is traumatic.”
It seems to me that this is true: when people are gender dysphoric then they are already undergoing significant psychological and emotional stressors. The drive to identify with a gender distinct from one’s birth-sex is the primary way to ameliorate those psychological and emotional stressors. And stressors can be compounded when others do not recognize one’s identity. So if medical staff can decrease the stress of a physically ill biological male by referring to him with female pronouns, why not do so? Personally, I think it is advisable in the name of hospitality to accommodate the requests of transgender people. In fact, I debated this before with James here and here. (Also see my FCA Plenary Address “What would Jesus say to Caitlyn Jenner?“)
I understand that James disagrees. Fair enough, but that is an intramural Christian debate. What puzzles me about his tweet is that this program, of all things, is the one that James believes should persuade a Christian to “ditch Netflix.” Netflix has many programs that are directly opposed to a Christian worldview from The Golden Compass (which was admittedly less anti-Christian than the book) to Terrifier, a crass bit of torture porn which involves scenes of a psychotic clown amputating a woman’s breasts and then wearing them and dismembering her with a hacksaw, and 365 Days, an erotic thriller in which a crime boss kidnaps a woman leading to a number of erotic escapades.
Think about that. Netflix has Terrifier and 365 Days and yet an episode of The Babysitter’s Club is the final catalyst to “ditch Netflix”?
I’m guessing that James will say the difference is that this episode targets children (and no child should be watching those other films). Moreover, this will lead to children not simply extending hospitality to those who are gender dysphoric but to them accepting a harmful idea of gender identity as wholly detached from sex which could result in such tragedies as a prepubescent boy seeking gender reassignment surgery which he later regrets.
I agree that there are dangers here. But that’s why Christian parents can do one of two things:
- Not allow their children to watch this episode of The Babysitter’s Club.
- Allow their children to watch this episode of The Babysitter’s Club and then debrief it afterward, thereby enabling your child to become culturally informed, compassionate, and wise.
Personally, I’d go with 2. What I wouldn’t do is “ditch Netflix.”