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No, Disney not opening transgender clinics for kids

IN SHORT: The man announcing the opening of sex-assignment clinics in a viral video clip identifies himself as Alan Bergman, co-chair of Disney entertainment. But he’s actually the US YouTuber Mark Dice and the video is intended to be satire.

Disney, the family-friendly US entertainment company founded in 1929, is opening sex-reassignment clinics for kids.

At least, that’s the claim attached to a video on social media. It’s been circulating on WhatsApp in South Africa and on Facebook worldwide since late June 2023.

It opens with a man speaking at a podium in front of a panel of people.

 “I’m Alan Bergman, co-chair of the entertainment division at Disney,” he begins, in a US accent. “And we have a special announcement to make today.”

He talks about the “magic” of Disney movies, “where frogs turn into princes” and “orphans like Cinderella transform into beautiful princesses”. He then adds that Disney has been “covertly inserting queerness into our films and television shows”.

By “queerness” the man is referring to the LGBTQ+ community – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and other people who are not typically heterosexual.

A minute or so later he says: “We're proud to announce that this summer we're gonna be opening Disney-themed paediatric transgender clinics for the children across the country.”

Paediatric doctors specialise in the care of  babies, children and young people.

“As you know, there is still an enormous stigma against parents deciding to change the gender of their children,” the man says.

He adds: “We’re confident that our Disney-brand puberty blockers and our character-themed clinics we can help reduce this stigma. We can normalise these ideas and we can make them mainstream.”

Transgender is a broad term for people whose gender identity, or their sense of being male or female, is not the same as the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Children and teens can be transgender.

The video has been posted on Facebook with comments such as:

In 2022 Disney criticised the US state of Florida’s new “don’t say gay” law that banned discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in some schools. The company runs a massive resort in the state.

Alan Bergman is the co-chair of Disney entertainment. But did he really say the company would be rolling out “paediatric transgender clinics” for kids across the US?


Satire presented as fact is disinformation

The video has also been posted on two different Facebook pages named Mark Dice fans.

Both give the caption: “Disney’s Creepy New Plans for Kids Revealed in Shocking Meeting – Mark Dice”.

A Google search of the caption brought us to another instance of the video, uploaded on the channel of US YouTuber Mark Dice on 28 June.

Its description reads: “At a California city council meeting posing as Disney executive Alan Bergman, YouTuber Mark Dice gives a satirical speech about what the company is planning next. While it's ‘just’ satire, is it really that far from the actual truth?”

Satire can be defined as “the use of humour or exaggeration in order to show how foolish or wicked some people's behaviour or ideas are”.

The video shows Dice, not Bergman. But it’s being posted on social media as if it were real.

When satire is presented as fact, it becomes disinformation. Bergman did not announce new “Disney-themed paediatric transgender clinics for the children”.

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