Montana Child and Family Services (CFS) has removed a 14-year-old daughter, who goes by the pseudonym “Jennifer,” from the custody of her father and stepmother. Todd and Krista Kolstad refused to affirm Jennifer’s self-professed transgender identity. Like many adolescents, Jennifer struggled with this difficult age, but there were no indications of suicidality or distress over her gender. For example, she had experienced some bullying in school, but her parents transferred her to another district.
The trouble with CFS began when the school notified Krista and Todd that Jennifer had expressed suicidal thoughts at school. That same day, CFS showed up at the family’s house and asked to do an inspection. Krista and Todd agreed to the inspection. Afterward, when the family sat down with the case worker, Jennifer claimed to have attempted suicide earlier that day by ingesting toilet bowl cleaner and painkillers. They rushed Jennifer to the emergency room, but, thankfully, all tests indicated that she had, in fact, not ingested any toxic substances and was given a clean bill of health.
However, things got worse from there. While admitted at the hospital, Jennifer told nurses that she identified as male and preferred to go by the name “Leo.” Hospital staff called her by this new name, despite the protests of her parents. After two days at the hospital, the Kolstads agreed to have Jennifer spend some time at an in-state residential treatment facility. When they learned that Jennifer would instead be sent to an out-of-state facility, they refused to sign the paperwork to release her. Within minutes, CFS was at the Kolstads’ home with papers notifying them that their daughter was being temporarily removed from their custody.
Fast-forward six months later when Jennifer was placed into the custody of her birth mother in Canada, with whom she has never had a relationship. When Todd and Krista publicly protested this series of events, they were placed under a gag order, which they ignored. They appealed to the Montana Supreme Court for the gag order to be released and to be given “supervisory control” of Jennifer’s case. Earlier this week, the court rejected their appeal.
Though the Kolstads had demonstrated a commitment to Jennifer’s health, the CFS affidavit cited that the reason for her removal was “Physical Neglect — the Youth was suicidal and needed acute psychiatric care and … [her parents] refused to sign paperwork for the Youth to receive the care that was recommended by the medical professionals.” A common strategy of “gender-affirming” doctors, therapists, and state workers is to predict suicide if a child is not allowed to transition, citing their own expertise. Often, the power play is accompanied by the coercive saying, “You can either have a living son or a dead daughter.”
In fact, the opposite is true. Transitioning does not lead to less suicide. Rather, it leads to more. The best research shows that those who undergo chemical and surgical “transition” are over 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person. When it comes to youth, the vast majority—88-98%—of adolescents who are allowed to go through puberty will reconcile with their God-given sex. So-called “transitioning” harms—it does not help—teens struggling with distress over their gender.
Despite these facts, gender ideology has poisoned necessary institutions like hospitals and CFS, which are designed to protect the health and wellbeing of children. When these institutions are poisoned, the welfare of the vulnerable children they are designed to serve comes under threat. Even worse, the authority and ability of the family, the most important and statistically reliable institution for the protection and wellbeing of children, is severely compromised.
Parents need the support and help, not the disdain and opposition, of communities, educators, politicians, doctors, and case workers. Together, they should be standing up against harmful ideas. In fact, in 2023, Montana passed the “Youth Health Protection Act,” whose stated purpose is “to enhance the protection of minors and their families … from any form of pressure to receive harmful, experimental puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and to undergo irreversible, life-altering surgical procedures prior to attaining the age of majority.” However, a judge issued an injunction against it, preventing the law from becoming active. As the appeal against this injunction plays out, Montana’s state actors can still overstep the family because of false and harmful ideas about identity, especially sex and gender.
To learn more about helping children develop a secure identity, and to learn more about the wrong ideas that are victimizing so many young people, go to identityproject.tv. The Identity Project is the most comprehensive library available of on-demand videos and resources addressing issues of identity, humanness, and sexuality, all from a Judeo-Christian worldview. For a special discount this month, go to identityproject.tv and enter BREAKPOINT at checkout.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Jared Hayden. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
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