Souderton Community Leaders Condemn Public Screening of Anti-Trans Film ‘Dysconnected’

Both the Respect Life Committee of Saint Peter Catholic Church in Coatesville and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have endorsed and promoted the event.
protect trans kids
A handmade poster reads: "Protect trans kids! Let them play; love and support them." | Photo by Sky Mandel.

The Broad Theater in Souderton will be showing “Dysconnected – The Real Story Behind the Transgender Explosion” on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., and many in the community are unhappy about it. 

Laced with fear mongering, the 90-minute “documentary” is neither truthful nor factual, and serves only to disparage an already marginalized sector of youth and teens within the community. While the box office will not be open, tickets will be sold at the door according to advertisements for the film.

“Parents are terrified to take their children to the doctor,” claims Maria Keffler in the film. Keffler is the co-founder of Advocates Protecting Children and author of Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult. Keffler’s book “advises parents to lie to their children about why they cannot see an affirming therapist or do an afterschool activity,” writes Brody Levesque in the Los Angeles Blade.

“We are heartbroken that such a film is being screened in our community and want to send a clear message that we love and support our LGBTQ+ community members and their affirming family and friends,” said Stephanie Barnett Jamison, Chair of Souderton Area For All, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit working toward achieving inclusivity for all.

The group will be hosting a silent vigil, beginning at 8:30 a.m., on Saturday, outside the theater and also issued a statement:

“This film greatly mischaracterizes the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official position on gender affirming care. The AAP’s comprehensive policy on gender affirming care outlines the need for holistic, developmentally appropriate interventions and support without any particular end goal – other than the overall health and wellness of the child.”

Also appearing in the film is Ryan T. Anderson, author of “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.”

Amazon, the retail giant that sells just about anything, has refused to carry Anderson’s book because it violates their hate speech policy.

Anderson is also President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a right-wing Washington, D.C. think tank whose board includes Leo Leonard of the Federalist Society. Leonard was instrumental in the confirmation of SCOTUS justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett who all but guaranteed the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Information sourced by The Beacon reveals the Respect Life Committee of Saint Peter Catholic Church in Coatesville to be the local promoter of the anti-LGBTQ+ event being hosted at three privately rented venues in Montgomery and Chester counties.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also promoted the film in an online monthly newsletter advertising “$10 per ticket – payment by cash or check at the door.”
“I have not seen the movie, and had not previously even heard of it,” Souderton Mayor Dan Yocum commented. “But from what I can tell, this film does not represent the warm and accepting nature of this community.”

Yocum referred to the Broad Theater as a treasured asset in the community, noting how the once-beleaguered building now serves as a gathering place for people from all walks of life. 

“Souderton is a place where all people are welcome. As mayor, I strongly rebuke any homophobic or transphobic rhetoric that this film contains and want people to hear loud and clear that it has no place here in Souderton Borough,” he added.

Dysconnected provides a distorted assessment that public schools are brimming with trans kids when nothing could be further from the truth.Approximately 300,000 youth, ages 13-17, identify as transgender in the United States, according to UCLA’s Law Center Williams Institute. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the country to have 42 million adolescents making the transgender community a mere percentage, 0.714 percent to be precise, of that population and a far cry from what Catholic scholar Mary Rice Hasson calls the “tsunami” of the “transgender phenomenon.”

Kyle Hoff, co-owner of The Broad Theater, was unaware of the film’s showing advising that theater staff handle the booking of private events. “We always have a policy, you know, like as long as it’s legal to play and it’s not against the law,” he added.

The theater, which was renovated and opened during and immediately following the Covid pandemic, has garnered favor and criticism from the community pursuant to its selection of films.

After the showing of 2,000 Mules, a film about voter fraud that was completely debunked by an array of credible news sources, the theater caught flak from locals.

“We will never do any politically sensitive movie that we promote or that we exhibit or show,” Hoff said. “At the end… it wasn’t worth it.”

Other films have included Kinky Boots, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Disney’s Strange World that produced negative commentary from yet a different group within the community.

When asked whether the theater has a responsibility to screen films in advance to determine if they will help or hurt a community, Hoff said “Well, that’s where we’re probably a little lacking. We probably should have a better policy on that.”

Alan Miles, Associate Pastor at Zwingli United Church of Christ in Souderton, weighed in with concerns about the film’s message.

“We’re called to love those we disagree with,” Miles said. “We should be living this out loud and being people that want to see people thrive, not diminishing who they are.”

When it comes to combating false and bigoted messages such as the ones presented in the film, Miles advised that if you hear hatred or disinformation out in the community, to speak up.

“The only way we can fight this is to call it out when we see it happening,” he said. “People think the message of love is just too simple. It really is that simple.”

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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