Gender Revolution: Katie Couric Earns Her Ph.D. in Propaganda

It’s probably the most dishonest documentary I’ve ever seen.

By Tom Gilson Published on June 22, 2017

It’s probably the most dishonest documentary I’ve ever seen. But don’t worry: there’s a reason.

It comes from Katie Couric, in cooperation with National Geographic, under the title “Gender Revolution.” (You might be able to catch it on cable, on demand, until July 1.)

At the end of the film, she says she’d gotten a real education.

Sure. My guess is the piece came about because she’s studying for a Ph.D. in Propaganda, and this was her dissertation project. It has all the elements: the tugging at emotions, the slanted science; the token but ineffectual balancing perspective, and overall, a callous disregard for telling the whole truth.

I’m sure her dissertation committee gave her high marks for it. Good job, Katie!

The Feelings

It’s got all the emotion required of any decent Propaganda piece. High marks from the committee on this count!

The elderly man’s wife and son are totally happy over his recent feminine transition. Their son sheds loving tears over it.

The young father’s eyes well up in joy over the “phenomenal” support others gave his family over their four-year-old son’s transition into dresses.

It has all the elements: the tugging at emotions, the slanted science, and a callous disregard for the whole truth.

The teenaged girl-boy Gavin Grimm, the young woman in Gloucester, Virginia, whose bathroom access case is going to the Supreme Court, comes off as a profile in courage worthy of a new chapter in Kennedy’s classic book. What a bright, brave young man he is!

Throughout the piece there’s so much cheery music, and Katie Couric’s unbeatable smile brightening it all, and the happy laughter of trans kids sitting in classrooms or roasting marshmallows over campfires, and the envy of the one teen toward the other who’s just so lucky she’s already been started on hormone treatments, and the happy anticipation of the boy-girl who’s about to be wheeled in for “gender confirmation surgery,” and all the hope for a world that’s going to become more tolerant and open and loving! Oh, it’s all so wonderful!

The Slanted Science

No Ph.D. project in Propaganda could even get out of the gates without some science. It doesn’t have to be good science. It doesn’t even have to be relevant science. It just has to look science-y. Science-y feels true. Science-y makes for good propaganda. Points to Couric for this, too.

She kicks things off talking about the “serious medical condition” that produces ambiguous genitalia at birth. The conclusion: sometimes it’s hard for parents and doctors to get gender right at birth.

And she’s right. Sometimes it is. She doesn’t add that those hard cases total about 1 in 4,500 births. But what does that have to do with the typical trans-person, whose biology isn’t up for question? Doesn’t matter; she milks it for all it’s worth anyway.

There’s got to be some brain science in there, too; it’s required of these sorts of projects. So she covers it quite dutifully: “We know that scientists believe that something happens to the trans brain in utero.” Post-mortem studies show there’s something is different in trans-persons’ hypothalamuses, too, she informs us.

Stereotypes aside, the overall story tends to be much darker than what she tells.

She neglects to tell us (her Propaganda Ph.D. committee would have dinged her badly for including this much truth) that we really don’t know whether those changes are causes or effects of the trans experience. We don’t know yet what causes gender dysphoria. But forget that. It’s too true.

The rubric requires a psychologist, too. So she found an expert who told her, “For [young] kids who are consistent, insistent, persistent, almost none of them change their minds” about their gender when they grow up. What he doesn’t say (or what got edited out) is how rare that persistent experience is. Very few children fall into that category, even among those who question their gender identity for a while. The vast majority of them grow out of it later in life.

Fortunately for her degree aspirations, Couric was smart enough not to mention that.

Token Appearance of a Balanced Perspective

Also on the rubric: you must sell the illusion that your project takes a balanced perspective. Frankly, I’m surprised to see the committee passed her on that part of the project. There’s no hint of balance to it anywhere.

Who in this documentary disagrees even slightly with her bright smiling pro-trans perspective? Just three or four angry people telling a school board how the Gavin Grimm situation has upset them. That, plus three on-the-street sound bites she dismissively introduced with, “For some people it’s too much to handle.”

That’s it. That’s all. Which experts were there representing the other side of the story? Don’t make me laugh! Those six or seven sound bites mentioned were the most expert dissenting opinions.

I’d have thought her dissertation committee would have made her put at least one contrary expert on screen at least momentarily, edited appropriately to make him look like a proper idiot.

But hey, it’s Propaganda anyway, with or without that feature.

The Distorted Other Side of the Story

The whole piece comes out very dishonestly distant from the truth. I’m sure her Propaganda Ph.D. committee gave her high marks for that.

And maybe her committee let her get away with it because she hints at the contrary side of the story herself, letting us know that a staggering 40 percent of trans-identified people attempt or actually commit suicide. Their unemployment rate is double the national average. Some of the dark truth sneaks out here.

But the problem, of course, is others’ intolerance. Couric visits an El Pollo Loco restaurant where all is well for a change, since the manager makes it a point to hire trans people. Everyone is just so happy! (There’s that feelings thing again. Extra points for that!)

Ironically, that segment closes with the bright word that many states are making it illegal to discriminate against gender identity on the job. That’s rather odd. You can’t have trans persons making up one-third of your employees without discriminating against people on the basis of their non-trans gender identity. This manager was probably breaking the law. But smile, Katie, smile! You can sell it anyway!

Dishonesty: The Sine Qua Non of Propaganda

Overall, the whole piece comes out very distant from the truth. I’m sure her Propaganda Ph.D. committee gave her high marks for that.

The real truth is, there are about as many “transgender experiences” as there are transgender people. No stereotype can tell the whole story. That includes the cheery, one-sided picture Couric conveys.

Stereotypes aside, the overall story tends to be much darker than the story she tells. Transgender people are on the whole less happy, more emotionally distressed, less satisfied with life, less likely to be gainfully employed, and much more likely to attempt and succeed in committing suicide than the population at large.

“Transitioning” is little help, as today’s companion piece from Liberty McArtor tells us. McArtor spoke with transgender expert Walt Heyer earlier this week about why promoting transgenderism is “incredibly destructive.” And Heyer knows firsthand: he formerly identified as a transgender woman. Read the full interview and story “They’re Not Fine” here.


Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

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