The production of the short film, Limina, has recently come under attack by a transphobic right-wing petition originating in Europe.
The film, about a gender-fluid child, aims to start a conversation about the natural, but often oppressed, gender fluidity of children. Filmmakers Joshua M. Ferguson and Florian Halbedl had intended to film Limina in the magical and diverse villages of Switzerland. Having decided to film in Vancouver instead due to financial and logistical reasons, Limina is attracting top talent across Canada. Ferguson and Haldedl are preparing for production to start in October.
On September 8, an anonymous petition in German surfaced on the online platform "CitizenGO." It attacked the film for its binary-breaking message, labeling gender fluidity as a sickness and the film as propaganda for the "LGBT lobby." The petition now has 12,000 signatures from around the world. Certain supporters have spoken up publicly against the film such as professor and publicist Roberto de Mattei who stated that Limina is "an attack on childhood with disastrous psychological and social consequences."
The petition appealed to several governmental representatives in Switzerland asking them to not provide funding for the film in hopes to end the production process before it had begun. In reaction to this attack, the filmmakers said, "Religious dogma should never have the power to influence cultural production," marking the petition as a clear attempt at censorship.
The representatives, specifically Head of the Education and Culture Department Franz Enderli, stated that the petition will not affect the film's application for governmental funding and that decisions will be made solely on the quality of the application.
"We had very positive and supportive meetings with many people in Switzerland about Limina while we were there this past summer," said Ferguson. "The Transgender Network of Switzerland is in full support of Limina and denounces this petition."
Though there are many in support of the LGBTQ+ community, transphobic attacks like this petition can still have a detrimental effect on individuals. The petition uses a study by Cecilia Dehjne as support for their transphobic position.
However, Dehjne rejects this use of her work. "This petition incorrectly uses our research to attempt to prove that gender confirmation surgery increases the suicide rate for transpeople," she said. "I denounce this petition's dangerous and misguided use of our research.... This misuse is what actually could harm trans people and by that increase the risk of suicide."
Gillian Creese, acting director at UBC's Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice condemns the intolerance of the petitioners.
"The attack on the film and its producers is a clear example of transphobia," she said. "We should all condemn this kind of hateful intolerance and bigotry."
The filmmakers find it unfortunate that the petitioners are wielding religion as a weapon for intolerance against an already marginalized group of people. Ferguson and Halbedl have also seen people use religion for acceptance specifically when their previous film, Whispers of Life, was widely accepted by religious groups in the Philippines.
The filmmakers urge supporters to consider contributing to their film and help Limina to create a cinematic space for gender-fluid children.