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'The Lost Boys' on grisly hellscape of trans surgery (movie review)

Courtesy of the Center for Bioethics & Culture
Courtesy of the Center for Bioethics & Culture

Not long after the contemporary transgender revolution besieged the Western world, the alarm that subsequently arose mostly centered around dysphoric teen girls and young women, often to the exclusion of boys and hurting young men.

While there is reason for greater concern for the girls given the dizzying statistics — over 4400% increase in referrals of females to gender identity services in the UK from 2009-2018, for example — males are suffering too. A new documentary film highlights several of these boys and young men and examines why and how they wound up traveling down the road of gender medicalization.

Last month, The Center for Bioethics and Culture released “The Lost Boys: Searching for Manhood,” an earnest 49-minute glimpse into the journeys of five detransitioner men who were medically harmed by the drugs and surgeries they were led to believe would alleviate their distress. But being “transgender” didn’t solve their problems, and the film is a continuation of the CBC’s excellent work on these thorny issues. 

Similar to their previous film “The Detransition Diaries: Saving Our Sisters,” which profiles three formerly trans-identified women, “The Lost Boys” provides a window into the psychological struggles these young men faced. Another similarity between the two films is how the medical system hastily funneled them into these hormonal and surgical interventions without adequate exploration of their underlying issues. The breakdown in ethics that has enabled catastrophic medical harm to these vulnerable people is nothing short of appalling.

All five confused young men struggled to find a healthy sense of manhood they could inhabit. Their testimonies are raw and their transparency moving. From start to finish, “The Lost Boys” is a heartrending watch. These intimate matters are not easy to discuss but Alexander, Brian, Njada, Ritchie, and Torren do so with sobering candor. Each man opens up about the anguish that precipitated their decision to undergo measures that, for some, left them with irreparably damaged bodies.

None of the harms of trans procedures are pleasant to hear about, and the aftermath is gruesome. The cross-sex hormones the men took hijacked their endocrine systems and psychological well-being, despite being told the drugs would help them. And there is simply no polite way to address the grisly hellscape of transgender surgery but it must be confronted. The documentary does not gratuitously wallow in the horror of these procedures, but neither does it shrink back from shining a necessary light on them.

Ritchie, a British man whose X (formerly Twitter) thread went viral in June 2022 detailing his postoperative regret and terrible medical complications, was especially frank about this in the film.

“It literally looked like an animal had bit at the flesh and all the blood had drained out and there was no more to bleed — it was just hacked flesh and it didn’t look good at all,” he says ruefully while describing his maimed genitals. 

“The agony was levels of pain I’ve never felt in my life,” he noted. 

Alexander, a Polish-born man who lives in Norway, traveled to Thailand for a so-called “bottom surgery” and, like Ricthie’s horrible experience, the operation left him with deep regret. No word even exists for “detransitioner” in the Norwegian language, he explains. The closest term in Norwegian is translated as “regretter.” 

Delirious from the fading anesthesia from his surgery, he experienced a disorienting “ghost limb feeling” in his crotch area. The aggravated nerves made him think his penis was still there even though it had been mostly destroyed to fashion a crude “neovagina.” Further accentuating his regret, the nurses in the room held up a plastic bag and showed him his amputated testicles. 

Interspersed with the stories of these lost boys trying to find their way into manhood are insights from contributors Joe Burgo and Az Hakeem, therapists who have helped many gender-distressed young men process their pain. Irish comedian Graham Linehan, creator of the Father Ted sitcom and whose career was upended due to his objections to gender ideology, also provides commentary.

Poignantly punctuating the film is Steven, a father of a trans-identified son. His heartache is palpable as he spells out the layers of lonely confusion he navigated while watching his struggling son mentally disintegrate. His presence in the documentary represents countless fathers caught in this maw as they do their best to guide their sons amid the gender chaos they struggle to understand. 

Filmmaker Jennifer Lahl said in an email last week to The Christian Post that parents “came to us after ‘The Detransition Diaries’ and begged us to ‘tell the story about our boys’ because ‘boys get little attention or are labeled autogynephilic perverts.’”

One such mom of a gender-distressed young man shared with CP on condition of anonymity that she could see her son in the stories the five men tell about themselves.  

And yet, she added: “Will my son have to travel the same path home, or can we find a way to reach him and all the others before it's too late?”

Two of the young men who appear in the film, Njada and Torren, are also profiled in a book that Lahl and CBC executive director Kallie Fell co-authored that Ignatius Press just released called “The Detransition Diaries.” 

The book, for which I was honored to write the foreword, tells their stories in even more depth alongside the three women featured in “The Detransition Diaries” film and two other detransitioned women. The authors chronicle in the book some of the history of the trans movement and explain how gender ideology has eroded biomedical ethics. 

As the credits of “The Lost Boys” rolled, I found myself pondering the film’s subtitle, “searching for manhood.” 

This existential search is not limited to the boys and young men who tried to find meaning through a trans identity. A universal and spiritual yearning for masculinity – that is, to be seen and known as a man among men — animates and bedevils the heart of every boy. 

For a variety of reasons, many boys and young men today no longer believe that they can embody that which is most obvious about them, their male sex. A severe, intense confusion has beset a generation of men. It’s a brutal struggle grinding away at their minds. Tragically, some of them have been hormonally and surgically altered. And these lost boys have something profound to teach us. 

In his 1990 classic Iron John: A Book About Men, American author and poet Robert Bly observed that “where a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.” 

In my estimation, the male detransitioners featured in “The Lost Boys” and others like them are the apotheosis of a wounded man. Indeed, for a few of them, their bodies were quite literally wounded by way of an illicit surgery.

It’s the saddest of ironies. Though some of them no longer have the body parts signifying their maleness, the courage they exuded in telling their stories displayed an inspiring manliness. 

As it turns out, they had the masculine goods all along. They just didn’t know it. 

Perhaps therein lies their genius.

Brandon Showalter has a bachelor's degree from Bridgewater College in Virginia and a master's degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Listen to Showalter's Generation Indoctrination podcast at The Christian Post and edifi app Send news tips to: Follow on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter Follow on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

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