The Matchmaking ‘Cult’ That Coerced Women Into Gender Transitioning

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If a guru forces you to watch HBO’s The Vow in order to prove that he’s not a cult leader, he most definitely is—one of many lessons that can be gleaned from Escaping Twin Flames, a three-part docuseries about the online self-help outfit that promises to provide the lonely with their one true love. Arriving mere weeks after Prime Video’s own non-fiction exposé Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe, Cecilia Peck’s Netflix investigation damningly dissects the ugliness perpetrated by Jeff and Shaleia Divine, two online hucksters following a standard-issue cult playbook—save, that is, for their business’s modern twists, the most galling of which is its practice of coercing women into gender transitioning.

Confirming that there’s no shortage of people looking for mystical mentors who’ll afford answers to life’s problems, as well as exploitative phonies willing to assume those roles, Escaping Twin Flames (Nov. 8) is a brutal takedown of Jeff and Shaleia, who’ve made a mint by guaranteeing to pair individuals with their Twin Flames (i.e. soulmates). By paying for Twin Flames Universe (TFU) classes, coaching sessions, and other instructional materials (most of which revolve around a self-recrimination technique known as “The Mirror Exercise”), members are told that they’ll meet their divinely chosen partner and enter into a Harmonious Union. How will this come about? Initially, Jeff and Shaleia said that acolytes would recognize their True Flames courtesy of an instant, irresistible attraction. Before long, though, they were proclaiming that, because of their own “magical” union, they had the unique power to identify a person’s True Flame—and thus their word was to be unquestionably followed.

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