This review of the Australian children’s TV mini-series ‘First Day’, now available on the BBC iPlayer, has been written by one of our supporters.
The latest Australian import currently being broadcast to our children, courtesy of CBBC, is ABC’s ‘First Day’, a mini-series about a 12- year old boy, Hannah Bradford, who unsuccessfully tries to hide his transgender status when he moves to a new school, but who nonetheless makes friends despite his palpable anxiety borne of previous bullying.
The series’ sole purpose is to manipulate young children into emotionally embracing a trans agenda. It does this by inducing such a feeling of pathos in the audience that any opposition to the narrative advanced is implicitly framed as hateful. To achieve compliance, ‘First Day’ is replete with rhetorical devices and dangerous lies whilst, ironically, assuming the moral high ground. The most egregiously cynical aspect though, is the use of a real trans child who has the passing privilege of prepubescence; this series wouldn’t work nearly as well if it were set in a High School and Hannah was a 17 year old, 6 feet tall beardy heterosexual teen.
In the opening scene of ‘First Day’, the first false premise emerges and is used as a foundation to build a house of cards which holds up a myriad of logical fallacies. Sitting in the Head’s office, the protagonist, Hannah, and his mother insist that he is, in fact, a girl. No evidence is offered for this circular assertion, either in this scene or subsequent scenes dealing with the subject of stereotypes. Many parents watching with their children will be concerned to see other adults, and a complicit BBC, confirming an impossible thing because doing so is a form of abuse.
The audience is clearly expected to equate sartorial stereotypes and personal presentation– a dress, long hair, make-up – with actually being female. Episode 1 depicts Hannah removing lipstick and scraping off nail varnish, as though these aspects of gender are essential in order to be properly identified as female. This emphasis on stereotypes is continuous and elaborated on in Episode 4 when Hannah shares his distraught feelings about being bought ‘boy toys’ such as a ‘box of trucks’. It is clear that the very idea of gender nonconformity for the sexes is frowned upon. Many children watching this series will have been brought up in households that eschew stereotypes, they will have been taught that they may wear and play with anything they like, and where the idea that they cannot is correctly identified as sexism. Thus, the trust children place in adults to tell them the truth is blatantly abused, and this is made worse because they are two of the most prominent adults represented in a child’s life.
But Hannah is not a girl, because being a ‘girl’ is an immutable biological category. He is a boy who prefers to wear skirts, play with toys which are considered, by society, to be ‘for girls’, and be friends with girls. There is nothing wrong with any of these things; conversely, strictly pairing gender stereotypes with biological sex is a terrible incursion. The evident attachment to gendered ideals is further underlined in Episode 4 when another child, also in Hannah’s year, confides in her that her mother will not accept she is a boy and was extremely upset when she cut her hair short – further perpetuating stereotypes.
It is wrong to refuse to teach children they have the right to express their personalities in non-gendered ways, and it is wrong to neglect to teach them that they must never bully anyone for the way they express themselves.
The untruth that Hannah is a girl is thereafter used as a basis for other decisions. Hannah says in the Head’s office “I just want to be treated like everyone else”. This is disingenuous linguistic trickery. It would be fine if ‘everyone’ meant the same one thing, but it does not. There are males and there are females and it is on this basis that facilities are separated. Acknowledging this objective fact is not ‘hateful’. Perhaps accepting gender non-conformity is too hard and it is simply easier to force girls to share their single sex spaces than it is for boys to accept that some of them like to wear skirts.
The Head raises the spectre of ‘other parents’ as an objection to Hannah using the girls’ toilets immediately, as though they have no right to safeguard their children’s dignity and privacy. This is dangerous as this rhetoric will cause alienation between children and their parents, encouraging children to keep secrets from them. Yet by Episode 4 of ‘First Day’ many children watching will have been persuaded by Hannah’s mother’s strawman arguments that she does not see what harm it will do for her daughter to use the girls’ facilities.
The point is not that Hannah will harm anyone, or even that she might be harmed, but that the girls who are not in Hannah’s friendship group and who have not been exposed to relentless trans propaganda will also have a view, and in this country, they are legally entitled to facilities separated by sex. Taking a wider view, schools are a microcosm of the wider world and this is propaganda which seeks nothing less than wholesale societal change.
This ideological coercion occurs throughout the series, but Isabella, who bullies Hannah, is on the receiving end of it. She is set up as an unsympathetic bully, so any valid arguments which may have had a hearing are shut down. This is intellectually dishonest and does a great disservice to children watching at home. Girls who perhaps need access to single sex spaces, are, as a result, entirely robbed of information and may feel inhibited about expressing their views. This is potentially dangerous, especially if they later find themselves in abusive relationships where they are told they must accept certain behaviours.
The reduction of Isabella’s character to a plot device is also a failure to investigate safeguarding concerns. Although she is also clearly subject to violence at home her vulnerabilities are only of interest in so far as they are useful in furthering the activists’ agenda, which is to portray Hannah as a ‘feeling’ character. The fact that Isabella’s boundaries have been compromised – we are never allowed to explore why it may be important for her to access single sex spaces – only serves to further dehumanise her.
Evidently, the opportunity for children to learn that one does not have to agree with another’s world view in order to be civil, is denied. This denial is concerning because of its authoritarian implications – the BBC, schools and parents should be in the business of teaching children to think for themselves, not force feeding them a diet of processed and pre-digested ideological matter.
By Episode 4 child viewers have been slowly boiled like a frog – so effectively that there is no mention of Hannah sleeping in the girls’ room, and the audience is only reminded he is a boy when one of his friends apologises to him for knowing that only girls have periods. Despite shushing another boy away when he enquires what is happening, Hannah is included in the girls’ gathering as they look at sanitary products. This is not only incredibly insensitive for the girls, but also Hannah, because if he is suffering from body dysmorphia, allowing him to see the changing bodies of his pubescent friends is incredibly cruel. The producers of ‘First Day’ are evidently intent on assiduously brainwashing children to the point that it is considered more important to be ‘nice’ (but to whom?) than it is to be kind – or biologically correct.
There are other notable issues with ‘First Day’, in particular there is a tentative effort to redefine heterosexuality as ‘people who are attracted to the same gender’, rather than the same sex. Although this is abandoned later – perhaps this was considered too much? – it also serves to validate the identity of the protagonist. This reframing of sexuality is reprehensible and is leading to an increase in homophobia and harassment of lesbians in particular.
It does not matter that ‘First Day’ is an Australian series, the fact is that the BBC spent our money on it and neglected to take English safeguarding rules and laws into account, is worthy of condemnation. It is not the BBC’s job to upend safeguarding policies or politically indoctrinate and manipulate children, especially when it involves teaching them to self-censor legitimate concerns. It should also be aware of the plethora of upcoming judicial reviews against the Tavistock clinic, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Government Equalities Office and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Just as the CPS was forced to remove its bullying Stonewall-influenced policy, CBBC should remove this.A supporter