One of the producers of the documentary, Rose Arce, made no secret that she sympathized with the subject of the film. During a panel discussion featuring Stanton at the 2008 Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention, Arce described the public hearings over Stanton's job as Largo city manager (which ultimately led to his dismissal from his job) as a "Salem witch trial environment."
Prior to its premiere on cable television, CNN screened "Her Name Was Steven" at several film festivals to "appreciative audiences," according to a Turner Broadcasting press release. One such screening took place at the 2009 Reel Affirmations: The Nation's LGBT Film Festival in Washington, DC. The film festival's website included a promotional text about the documentary apparently provided by CNN, which trumpeted how the film "explores the quiet moments as [Steven] Stanton remakes her body - all the time trying to keep her thoughts and feelings focused on what she knows she must do....CNN is with her through love, loss, sex and self, and the extraordinary journey of one woman whose name was Steven."
The pro-transgender aspect of "Her Name Was Steven" has been picked up by several movie reviewers. Brian Lowry of Variety lauded the film for being "thoughtful," and noted that the excerpts from Stanton's video diary that the documentary includes were "immensely helpful in fostering understanding regarding his emotional state and sense of discovery during the process." Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald also used the "thoughtful" label for the documentary. An earlier Miami Herald review noted that Stanton's son Travis "exhibits a remarkable ease with his father’s transformation...offering a ray of hope for tolerance."