Your Opinion Matters


Get more

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

'Monster makers' are scaring our kids

Dane Giraud: I have a child struggling with gender-identity issues... how can I shield her from the disinformation, some promote, that people view her as less than human & want her to ‘cease existing’
Dane Giraud
Contributing Writer
May 20th, 2022

OPINION: A few months back, I was frittering away my precious short life on Twitter in a debate with an emerging gender non-conforming stand-up comedian and a successful Kiwi YouTube comic. My position was that gender-critical feminists had every right to table their concerns around the (at the time yet to be passed) Births, Deaths, and Marriages Bill.

My opponents considered this akin to defending the announcement of the final solution. The YouTuber tweeted @ me that people like the gender non-confirming stand-up just wanted to get through their day without people ‘questioning their existence’. I doubt my young friend had considered the true import of what he was saying, because it is a very well-worn trope from the progressive playbook and spoken almost reflexively now. But I took it as a rhetorical thermonuclear bomb. I mean, the Nazis had questioned my people’s right to exist before carrying out a genocide against us less than a century ago. This was where my mind was bound to travel. And considering gender-critical group ‘Speak Up For Women’ only opposed the elimination of safeguards proposed by the new changes, which meant they must have supported a path to recognizing trans people, how was this sort of talk applicable, let alone responsible?

In making a case for the suppression of what he considered harmful speech, the YouTuber was totally blind to the harm he was potentially doing, and not to gender-critical feminists either, but to the very people he thought he was defending.  

In the run up to the Free Speech Union’s recently cancelled AUT talk, a prominent transactivist stomped her virtual foot on one of our threads, stating that our talk would "question her existence".

"Our existence is not up for debate", wrote another.

To return to the Nazis, online activist Byron Clark reposted his truly inane theory that gender-critical feminists are carrying water for fascists. According to Clark, a campaign of dehumanisation had preceded the atrocity of March 15th, and local feminist groups were also engaging in similar dangerous dehumanization.

Except, they really weren’t.

I couldn’t help imagining how a survivor of the Christchurch massacre would’ve felt reading this, seeing the loss of family members and countless co-religionists so transparently politized to smear women that Clark just happens to disagree with.

I also couldn’t help imagining, while reading all this bunk, the reactions of many young and vulnerable people, currently struggling with their identities. What if they believed Clark? What if he was able to convince them that hatred towards them ran so deep, that a campaign was under way to visit a massacre upon them? 

And it’s at this point that I’d like to thicken the plot somewhat to say that I have a child who is currently struggling with gender-identity issues. Many are today. Why exactly remains a mystery, and one that needs attention and free and open debate to desperately decipher. Social media may well have unleashed a pandemic of confusion, especially on young teenage girls it seems, and a remedy for it is not forthcoming, short of breaking all their phones with a hammer. We would probably all benefit from that to be fair.

I am friends with a high-profile transwoman who I have gone to for advice on the matter. She told me to "wait" and just "love your child". Wise, wise words, I thought.

Loving a child means protecting them. But in the online age how can I hope to shield my child from the disinformation, that people like Clark promote, that armies of seemingly good people view her as less than human and want her to ‘cease existing’? If speech is harmful, why are we not collectively outraged about the propaganda being used to maximize anxiety and panic in already fragile teens and young adults, all so activists can claim veto rights over the speech of their political opponents?

I have named these activists the ‘monster makers’, and I really hope it catches on. They are creating monsters where none exist and placing them in the wardrobes and under the beds of kids who have enough challenges to cope with. The ‘monster makers’ are the real peddlers of harmful speech today, but we don’t need laws to combat them. We need to call them out. The wellbeing of our youth depends on it.


Dane Giraud is a South Auckland-raised TV and comedy writer and member of New Zealand's Jewish community.