Waking up to see PragerU’s anti-trans propaganda ad Detrans trending on X/Twitter last Thursday was bad enough. But imagine discovering that, without your permission, the ad is using your image in promotion of its transphobic agenda.
Jessica Hutfless, a software engineer who documents her transition in her spare time, made this exact discovery. PragerU exploited footage from Hutfless’s TikTok page to allege that such content is “essentially grooming children.”
Replying to a Thread by journalist Erin Reed (which explains the background on the doc and its participants), Hutfless wrote, “This is the documentary that PragerU used my face, and the face of many other trans people (without any of our permission) to advertise. This thread from @erininthemorning is a great breakdown of what it is.”
PragerU spent $1 million on its ad campaign, including an X ad “takeover,” all in promotion for the 21-minute propaganda film, Detrans: The Dangers of Gender-Affirming Care. This meant that the hashtag for the film (DETRANS) was automatically trending, and most X users saw the film promoted on their feeds last Thursday.
Through interviews with two detransitioners, the film claims that transgender healthcare is harmful—and it does so without interviewing a single doctor. Although the film focuses on minors, both subjects were legal adults when they transitioned. The doc omits other details, including the religious motives behind at least one participant’s detransition, and research that has shown detransitioners account for less than 1% of those who undergo gender affirming care.
When friends alerted her to the unauthorized use of her image to promote such a film, Hutfless was understandably shocked. “They sent me a picture of the trending page on Twitter,” Hutfless recalled in a conversation with The Advocate. “And it had the hashtag ‘detransition’. And there’s my face right there in this screenshot.”
Worse was the specific context in which her image appears, linking her content to ‘grooming.’ “Us making videos — I mean trans people making videos — we’re just existing, everyone makes videos on the internet these days. But when we do it, suddenly it’s grooming children.”
The result was sadly predictable—Hutfless experienced a torrent of online hate messages. “I saw the uptick in hate happening, and I was like, ‘right, I’m just going to, you know, stronger comment filters,’” she explained.
Hutfless plans to continue posting videos about her transition in spite of the harassment. “I’m not going to let them intimidate me out of it,” she said. And she’s not letting PragerU off the hook either—she’s currently researching her options for legal action.