This week, IWF’s own Kelsey Bolar joins High Noon to discuss her documentary series Identity Crisis, which tells the stories of minors struggling with their identities in the age of gender ideology, their parents, and their later struggles as they “detransition.” Kelsey and Inez talk about the betrayal institutional actors inflict on vulnerable kids and families, and the difficult line between the personal and political.

High Noon is an intellectual download featuring conversations that make possible a free society. The podcast features interesting thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum to discuss the most controversial subjects of the day in a way that hopes to advance our common American future. Hosted by Inez Stepman of Independent Women’s Forum.


TRANSCRIPT

 Inez Stepman:

Welcome to High Noon, where we talk about controversial subjects with interesting people. I’m so glad to finally have on a good friend of mine, Kelsey Bolar. She’s a colleague of mine at IWF where she is a senior policy analyst, where she has written for virtually every outlet you might have thought about, including Fox News, Washington Examiner, The Daily Signal, the Federalist, USA Today, National Review, I’ve already said that one, I think. All kinds of places, but you’ve also seen her on Fox News, on Fox Business, all kinds of TV programs as well.

Most recently, and the reason that I wanted to have her on this week, you might have seen one of her amazing documentarian-style videos. She’s done a series called Identity Crisis for us over at IWF, where she’s interviewed detransitioners, also their parents, oftentimes. So she’s interviewed mothers, some of whom have lost custody of their kids over this gender-ideology issue, some of which whom have just struggled with their children over this. So she has really done a … She’s doing the reporting that I think is so missing today, really doing a deep dive into the actual personal stories and how these ideologies interact, and these institutions interact with real families, real kids, real people. Kelsey, welcome to High Noon. I’m so glad to have you back here.

Kelsey Bolar:

Yeah, I’m honored. This is actually my first appearance on your podcast that I love, so thank you for having me.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. The reason I said back, is Kelsey and I also used to share six other overlapping institutional titles. We were both at The Federalist at the same time, we wrote a newsletter called BRIGHT at the same time, and then she worked for my husband over at the Heritage Foundation, Daily Signal for a long time. Kelsey and I have been interacting for quite some time.

Kelsey Bolar:

We go back.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. But this documentary series is really a remarkable achievement on your behalf. And actually, I’d like to kick it off by maybe asking you to talk through a couple of the stories, have you start out with Jeannette. Jeannette is a mother who actually, through a family court, she’s a divorced mom, and she’s actually lost the ability to speak to her daughter, except I think, through letters that she can send through the post office.

Kelsey Bolar:

Postal mail.

Inez Stepman:

So could you tell us a little bit about what happened to Jeannette and where she turned to for help when her daughter was going through, as you’ve titled this series, an identity crisis?

Kelsey Bolar:

Absolutely. Jeannette is one of the more extreme cases of what I guess are the variety of repercussions of this gender-ideology movement. This movement is branded in tolerance and compassion, and in the case of Jeannette Cooper, it actually physically separated a mother from her child. A mother who loves her daughter to no ends. The family courts essentially said, because you are not, “affirming your daughter’s identity,” affirming the lie that your daughter is a boy, you are no longer safe to be around her, and you cannot see her, you cannot call her, you cannot speak with her. The only way you can communicate with her is by postal mail. Jeannette’s daughter was only 12 years old when this all began. It’s been going on for over three years now. Jeannette previously, after getting divorced, had custody of her daughter six nights, seven days a week.

So prior to this, courts clearly had no concerns about Jeannette’s ability to parent her child. They shared a very close and loving relationship. You can see that through pictures that we show in the documentary, going back from her daughter’s childhood. But when her daughter suddenly declared that she was a boy, she told her mother that she wanted to stay at her father and new stepmother’s house, and that she felt “unsafe” around her mother. And this is what we’re seeing this movement enable, the weaponization of terms such as unsafe, which previously had deep consequential meanings, certainly in family court, anything involving children. If a child claims he or she is unsafe, a court has a duty to investigate that claim. That’s exactly what the court did. And initially, as hard as it was for Jeannette, she supported that investigation.

She understood that yes, when any child claims he or she is unsafe, the court has a duty to investigate. That was a seven-month investigation, brutally hard for Jeannette, very invasive. They investigated both Jeannette and her ex-husband, and I was able to review the final parenting agreement. It cited no evidence of abuse or neglect, no evidence of Jeannette being an unsafe parent. All it cited was Jeannette’s inability to understand her daughter’s gender identity. So essentially, she has been blocked from communicating with her daughter, physically separated, emotionally separated. It is devastating, and I can tell you as a mom of a little one, I cannot fathom what Jeannette has been through.

Inez Stepman:

I’m going to play a little bit of a trailer of your conversation and dive into Jeannette’s story. For those of you … this might be a good time to point out that in fact, this show is available as a video on YouTube, but even for those of you on audio, you should be able to hear the audio of a trailer of one of the documentaries that Kelsey has put together.

Jeannette Cooper:

My daughter’s name is Sophia. She’s amazing. On July 22nd, 2019, she went to her dad’s house and she never came back. I later found out that she had told her stepmom and her dad that she was trans and she didn’t want to live with me anymore, she felt unsafe. In no way should family court separate children from their biological parents without any evidence of abuse or neglect.

Inez Stepman:

There again, in this trailer, we hear the reference to abuse and neglect. And I think legally, we just submitted some Title IX comments, and a word that goes along with this is harm, the legal definition of harm, in terms of a parent. I think everyone acknowledges that child abuse laws exist for a reason, CPS exists for a reason. There is such a thing, obviously, as a parent crossing a line and going too far, and abusing your child. But the problem is, this definition of harm has now expanded and become ruthlessly ideological. I think that just speaks to the way that we talk about the sort of trump card that is always played in this discussion over gender transition of minors, which is suicide.

That is the trump card that is always played and said, “Well, you don’t want your kid to commit suicide, do you?” Or in the case the family courts, you don’t want to risk the kid committing suicide because the mother doesn’t “affirm” the male identity of her daughter, which is a nonsense sentence. Can you talk to us a little bit about how that definition of harm, either in this case or in other, either detransitioners or moms that you’ve talked to, how that word harm and its definition, or the word abuse and its definition, has really inserted itself into families that, under every definition until 30 seconds ago, would’ve been considered loving families?

Kelsey Bolar:

Yeah, it’s almost unfathomable to comprehend how far, I guess, this slippery slope has gone. Conservatives are often branded as fear mongers. If we talk about the slippery slope, well, if you start manipulating the terms, changing the definitions of women, of harm, this is where it will lead. Sadly, this is the natural conclusion. If all these institutions, the courts, our governments, from local governments all the way up to the federal government, are willing to change these basic definitions of what harm means and what biological sex means, of course a mother is going to easily be separated from the daughter she loves.

In this case, basically Jeannette, the mother, was told, “In order to see your daughter again, have a relationship with her, you have to attend certain therapy sessions, certain group sessions at the local gender identity clinic.” Despite her beliefs on this issue, she’s been willing to do that. She is willing to do anything to get her daughter back, but it almost seems like nothing is good enough for her.

What’s sad is it appears the courts don’t even understand what they’re asking her to do. They would send her to a certain therapist, for example, they name that therapist, you can see it in the court documents. That therapist’s waitlist was full. Some therapists have said, “Well, I’m not sure why the court is sending you to me. I don’t specialize in this issue. I don’t want to touch it.” And that is how a lot of the medical professionals are reacting to this. They’re scared to touch it, because they know there are consequences for engaging on this issue, and so much political correctness that can threaten their careers. So she’s been bounced around, been on waitlists and so forth, in an attempt to check these boxes, to be able to see her daughter again.

Really, it appears that nobody really knows what they’re doing, what they’re asking of her. They all are just doing this to pat themselves on the backs and tell them, “We’re doing the right thing because this is what we need to do to protect this child, to save this child,” because of what you mentioned earlier, this false, disproven idea that if you do not “affirm” a child’s gender identity, then that child will commit suicide. That is not true, we’ve seen multiple studies debunking that. And if you look at what’s happening in countries such as Finland and Sweden and the UK, they’re actually backtracking on this. They’re realizing their own studies into this gender-affirmation model have shown they’re actually causing more harm than good in children. They’re walking them backwards. And yet, every institution in the United States is moving full steam ahead and patting themselves on their backs, telling themselves they are doing right by this child, in physically separating this child from the child parents whom they love. It’s devastating. It’s so backwards, but this is actually happening, and that’s important for people to understand.

The stories that we’ve featured in this series paint a broad picture. We tell you about some of the most extreme cases, and then we tell you about the very common cases of gender transitions happening in schools behind parents’ backs, which sadly are happening all across this country. In the case of Jeannette, I will say, it’s pretty extreme, but it’s really important to understand this is real and it could happen to anybody. This is, I guess, broadly speaking, a warning against divorce, because if you and your partner disagree ideologically on this issue, you are at risk of losing custody. Jeannette is not alone in losing custody of her child. There are multiple cases like this around the country.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, let’s talk about the multiple institutions involved here. What we have, in Jeannette’s story, and in many of the stories in this Identity Crisis series, is the collision between what is the intimate, the private problems, either of a family or of a child … One of the children whose mom you interview, her child has mild autism, for example. And then in many of the other cases, especially the cases of the detransitioners, you hear about what they were going through. Either they had some kind of trauma in their history, real trauma, not the way that we talk about trauma in the political discourse, or they were just going through the confusing, angsty time of adolescence, where they were trying to find out who they were and what their place was in the world.

So it’s the interaction of those private dramas that go on in everybody’s lives, and these institutions, that are supposed to be there to be supportive of parents, loving parents, trying to get their kids through this. Or in the case of medical institutions or therapists, supposed to be trying to help these kids, their families, with the goal of restoring them and making them a psychologically-healthy human beings. Schools, again, same thing. And what we’re seeing time and time again, is that the institutions are taking kids in a very vulnerable position, or families in a very vulnerable position, your warning against divorce is well taken, but sometimes that’s how families find themselves. That’s the position they find themselves, they find themselves vulnerable, for example, to family courts. Any family can find themselves vulnerable to the schools, therapists, medical institutions that people for so long have relied on, to actually be honest brokers, not to be ideological, to actually be there to provide medical advice and help.

I guess what I want to ask you is, what has happened to these parents when they have trusted these institutions and what does that say … excuse me, what does that say about our institutional trust in society, and two, whether we should have any kind of institutional trust? I mean, I don’t really want to live in a world where parents can’t trust their pediatricians, but that seems like the direction that we’re headed with all of this.

Kelsey Bolar:

The main theme of this series is betrayal, and I didn’t know that going into this. I didn’t know what to expect going into producing this series, but what I found is every parent and every child who got manipulated into mutilating their bodies under the false pretense that it would solve all their problems and make them feel better and whole again, was betrayed by all these different institutions that exist and were built to protect children. Instead, they are taking advantage of children and inflicting irreversible harms on children.

Let’s start with, I do want to get to schools, but let’s start with the medical professionals. This is a really difficult institution to engage with because, first off, as just a storyteller, as journalists, even you as a policy expert in a lot of these areas, they’ll easily brush you off and say, “Well, you’re not a doctor, you’re not a therapist. You have no right to be involved in this discussion.”

But what all of these parents are experiencing, and what even these detransitioners have experienced, is the therapists, the mental health professionals, the doctors, are who the parents first turn to for help. They see their child is struggling with serious mental health issues, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, autism. These are very common themes you hear in all of these videos. Instead of counselors and therapists and doctors working with children to address these underlying conditions, to find out what is causing them to reject their bodies, to reject their biological sex, these medical professionals are telling children, “Well yes, if you take these drugs and people start calling you a different name, and you start using different pronouns, all these issues will go away.” And of course that’s not true. What other area of medicine is that true, where you can just affirm a lie to cure what are actual diagnosable medical issues that are plaguing these children and young adults?

So that is why it is so wrong and horrifying what’s happening to these children and to these parents, that when they think they can turn to these institutions for help, to these medical professionals for help, they’re turning around and then, most of these cases, actually making the situations worse.

In the most recent video we published on Cat Cattinson, who is a detransitioner, she, from a young age, felt like a boy. Her parents did not let her medically transition as a child. She went on to do it herself as an adult. All it took was a 30-minute phone call with Planned Parenthood to get prescribed testosterone. She was a semi-professional singer, expressed concerns about losing her voice. She was told this would be a low dose, her voice would be okay. Of course, it wasn’t. She later found out it was a much higher dose than many other “transitioners” were going on. And from there, when she wanted to surgically remove her breasts, again, all it took was another 30-minute phone call with a different doctor from Planned Parenthood to get a recommendation letter for her to remove her breasts. Irreversible surgery. In what world is this normal?

And yet, this is what these medical professionals are telling children and young adults: that if you mutilate your body, your mind will be cured. The most devastating aspect of all this is that all along, the actual mental illnesses, the actual emotional issues that these children and young adults are genuinely struggling with, go unaddressed, and in many cases actually get worse.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, it seems like an insertion again, into the private sphere. I’ve been thinking about this distinction between the public and private sphere. And in some level, of course, the feminist activists and so on, who said that the private is political, or the personal is political of course, they’re in some sense, correct, in the sense that culture is built out of what private decisions society endorses, which it discourages, up to the point of actually punishing. There’s some level this is true. But it does seem to be a feature of a free society that there is this private sphere, particularly in the family, that cannot be penetrated by any organ of the state or even of society. That there is this firewall around the family that we only breach in very, very severe and specific circumstances, and those narrow circumstances have been basically, severe abuse. If you are starving your children, if you’re chaining them to a radiator, then the state does breach this firewall around the family.

What do you think about the ideological shift here, not just over biological sex and gender identity … But it seems to me that we’re breaching something even scarier here, which is that that firewall between the family and the state is coming down in name of this ideology. Because in many cases, these are parents who have had to fight, some of them successfully, and some of them unfortunately, unsuccessfully, have had to fight the state or their school or their medical professionals, to have the kind of power in their own family that seems to be necessary for parenting at all.

Kelsey Bolar:

Yeah, I think the overarching cause of that is political correctness and a culture of fear. The medical community has been captured by this ideology. I wish I could be on this podcast with a solution. I have talked to medical experts, and I don’t see an easy answer to uncapturing all these medical professionals who are going along with the lie, that if you affirm a child’s identity, that child would be better. I think the greatest hope is, again, what we’re seeing over in Europe, with countries reversing.

But we live in a society and … As you know me well and we go back and forth on this, where I would say I’m, despite being someone who is willing to engage in debate publicly, I’m not someone who wants to hurt people’s feelings. I want to be nice. And I think for so many people, they think they’re being nice by going along with gender ideology, and this greater idea of political correctness and being nice. And the culture of fear of not being nice and the consequences you might face, is what’s driven so many people to sit idly by, as children are being manipulated and mutilated.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that perhaps the only way to snap a great portion of society out of this, is to get graphic and actually show the physical harms that are being done to children. Because I have to think, having looked at some of these images where children are cutting off healthy body parts … Don’t even want to get into the “sex reassignment surgeries” where they’re creating fake body parts, removing real body parts that are essential to functioning as a human being to create fake body parts. I think if parents see those images, nobody would want their child to experience that. And perhaps getting graphic is the only way to break through the political correctness and make society realize this is not compassionate, this is not nice. Nobody would wish that image on any healthy child.

Right now it feels like we’re up against so much, because all these institutions are working against parents and are working against children and confused young adults, who are being told the lie, that they’re going to feel better if they change their identity. That’s also why we named this series Identity Crisis. I actually thought of that name pretty quickly, and at first, I didn’t think too deeply into it because I was like, “This is all this is, this is just normal teenagers going through an identity crisis.” Who didn’t go through an identity crisis and want to be somebody else while they were growing up? Your adolescence is a very difficult and awkward time of finding yourself, of figuring out your true identity. And instead of giving children space to explore and try on different identities, we have all these different institutions telling them, “No, this is your identity, and you need to change your body in order to fix it.” It’s so backwards and wrong.

Inez Stepman:

Obviously, if we applied this to any other wishes of children, it becomes immediately ridiculous, although I would’ve thought that this would be immediately ridiculous. So I’m not sure I share the optimism of the graphicness because first of all, the plastic surgery will improve over time. The more of these the doctors do, the better the superficial results will be. But they don’t change-

Kelsey Bolar:

Well, and the puberty blockers are a challenge, because what the puberty blockers do is prevent the child from going through puberty, which actually enables the child to look much more like the opposite sex, and then they go on the hormones. But what a lot of [inaudible 00:27:13] parents and children don’t realize is, these are having lifelong consequences, medical consequences. These puberty blockers are sewing them into the industrial-medical complex. They’re going to have doctor’s appointments for a lifetime to come. There’s a very high chance they are going to be sterilized. I know this is difficult to talk about, but we’ve also learned there’s a very high chance that, if you take these medications for prolonged periods of times, these children and young adults will never be able to experience an orgasm. Why we would ever want to strip a child of that ability … In any other context, we refer to it as FGM, but in this case, we’re being told this is the compassionate thing to do.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, and just to be clear about some of these things, the puberty blockers are also making the actual “sex transition” or whatever, now they have a new term for it, but they’re making the surgery itself more difficult because these children’s genitals never develop into an adult’s genitals. As you say, they don’t have the sexual response of an adult. And they don’t have the amount of tissue to actually form … to the extent even they can cobble together this Frankenstein-version of the genitals of the opposite sex, they don’t have enough tissue with which to do it, which causes its own problems. But yeah, I think getting graphic about this is really important, but there’s also this underlying truth that, even if the surgery was much better than it is, and perhaps in 10 or 15 years it may be, you can’t change your sex. You can only have a facsimile of the opposite sex. And as you say, it’s being sold to people as a solution for what are real identity crises, I guess, to use your term.

I wanted to point to one more institution here that is engaging in this betrayal. One outside of this system, or in an indirect way, but something that you as a filmmaker have now experienced directly, and that is the censorship from Big Tech. You just said that you think one of the only ways to punch through this issue is to talk about it in a very direct, and sometimes graphic, way. You haven’t actually shown a lot of the graphics in your films yet, I think you are intending to, going forward. But already you have experienced censorship from Big Tech, of these videos that you’re putting out, on the basis of ideology or “misinformation”. Can you say a little bit about how the various companies are throttling your videos, and how they’re making it more difficult to access the information, and the stories that you are trying to tell?

Kelsey Bolar:

Absolutely. Most of the censorship and suppression that IWF has experienced with this Identity Crisis series has come from Google and YouTube. Essentially, they’re not letting us advertise our videos, promote them to a wide audience, for ridiculous claims, such as sensitive content, health reasons, discrimination, and so forth.

If you just Google “child transitions” on YouTube, you will get dozens, probably hundreds of thousands of videos featuring puff pieces of children who “transitioned.” The overall tone of these pieces is applauding them. It’s very triumphant, it is celebrating these children’s new identities. Those videos have millions of views. We know Hollywood loves to feature these types of stories. We know it’s appearing in Disney content. I have to call it out; even Fox News ran a very flattering segment on a family who decided to “affirm” their young child’s identity. The second an alternative narrative exists, the second these videos published, these Big Tech companies tell us, “No, this content is harmful, this content is damaging, and we are not going to let you promote it. We are not going to let it reach a broad audience.”

The good news is, the videos still exist on YouTube, so people can still watch them. But I know people who aren’t involved with this don’t know, but most successful videos on YouTube will have ads promoting that video to people who might be interested. Removing that ability to do that is really tilting the scale of this conversation. It is warping the public debate over gender ideology. It is censoring one side of the conversation, a side that is essential to anyone who is engaging on this issue to understand because, look, you can watch our video series and disagree with the conclusions that these parents have drawn after watching their young daughters fall prey to this ideology. You can disagree with the conclusions that detransitioners have drawn, after permanently mutilating and manipulating their bodies, but you do not have a right to say these stories should not exist, that these individuals don’t have a right to share their stories and be a part of this conversation. I mean, what honest person wants to engage on this issue without acknowledging an entire side of the conversation, the medical harms that are being done by this ideology.

I would argue that Big Tech is worse than complicit in the harms of gender ideology. It is taking an active role by suppressing an entire side of this entire conversation. We see this in … I’m not the only one experiencing this, with the videos that I produce. We’ve seen this all over Twitter, Matt Walsh. The second they expose these supposed gender clinics at major children’s hospitals, who decided to put out their own content promoting these types of surgeries and medical treatments for children. All Matt Walsh and Bill [inaudible 00:34:13] and other [inaudible 00:34:15] are doing is posting their own content, and yet they’re getting slapped with these labels. They’re getting their Twitter accounts suspended or removed. And again, this is all an attempt to censor the conversation, to warp the conversation, so that only one approved perspective is heard.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, and obviously we’re seeing this with all kinds of topics, but this one is a particularly disturbing one. First of all, because it’s happening to children, and second of all, because it is so fundamental. Going back even 10, 15 years, you couldn’t find a truth more fundamental or universally acknowledged, to borrow from Jane Austin, than the reality of biological sex. Now, we’ve had our disagreements about how we got to a point where we could continue to not acknowledging biological sex differences. But 15 years ago, I feel like everybody would’ve said, “Yes, boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.” That was not a controversial or political statement.

Really, it is one of those prime examples where, ultimately, when there is a regime, and I mean that in the classical sense, when there is a regime, there has to be some kind of enshrinement of a certain set of truths at the heart of it. And once you pretend that those things don’t exist, they reassert themselves. That a society has to have some of these unquestioned statements, axiomatic-level statements, and that once those start to fall out, they’re replaced, whether …

There is no true neutrality, I guess, is what I’m saying, we have to make some positive, normative statements like, there are differences between men and women. It’s good that there are differences between men and women. That there’s a difference between children and adults, that families should be able to have the most important say over what happens to their children. That governance is not made up of experts alone, that there’s an element of judgment and morality in the decisions that we make as a society, and that “experts” have no more claim to a voice in that judgment than a citizen, or a mom. I do think that this issue does bring up some of these more fundamental questions of governance, and what truths we want to place at the heart of who we are as a society.

As a documentarian, do you have a couple moments, one or two, that really took you aback? Because you went into this knowing something about gender ideology, knowing that it was causing a lot of harm, and wanting to interview people to expose that harm. But were there a couple moments where you were really surprised by, either the level of this, or how institutions have treated these parents and these detransitioners? And then on the flip side, how has the reception been outside of Google? How has the reception to your videos been taken, and have you gotten feedback from the people who are the thousands and thousands of people who have watched these videos?

Kelsey Bolar:

Yeah, I first off want to say, if there’s any chance that anyone from Big Tech is listening to this right now, I would really love to hear the justification for censoring and suppressing people’s stories. Because essentially, that is all that I did here. I released videos featuring different stories, taking the reporter out of it, just allowing parents and detransitioners to tell their stories. If Big Tech is saying, “In today’s society that is unacceptable. Individuals no longer have the right and the ability to tell their stories,” of course, that raises major free speech issues, but that just goes to show how threatened the institutions behind this decision to suppress these stories are.

Of course, Big Tech is being pressured to do this by the well-funded transgender movement, by the supposed medical experts who are pushing this ideology on children. Apologize if you hear my dog barking in the background. But I do think Big Tech needs to think long and hard about their decision to remove a piece of this conversation, simply individual stories, from this debate. I think it’s a new level of censorship, where they’re saying, “Your personal story is harmful to the public, so we’re not going to let everybody hear it.”

In regards to me personally, this has been certainly a difficult project to work on. I’ve been a, I guess, storyteller-producer for probably 10 years of my career. I’ve told a lot of emotionally captivating stories over the years. These have been probably the most difficult I’ve ever told. I have spent hours on the phone with these parents, with Jeannette Cooper, listening, asking her questions like, “There’s no way a family court actually hasn’t let you see your daughter in three years. There’s no way you live 10 minutes down the street, but can’t walk over and see her. You know where she goes to school, but you’re not allowed to go there?”

Right over there, I actually hear my daughter right outside my door, and I’m on the phone with these parents, listening to my barking dog, and looking at my now three-year-old daughter, just in fear. Like, “Could you ever be this manipulated by adults who are lying to you, claiming they’re doing this to protect you, but actually inflicting lifelong harms on you?” I started this project right after I returned from maternity leave with my second child, my son. And I’ll be honest, I experienced the range of emotions that any young mother experiences in returning back to work wondering, “Is this what I want to do, or do I belong at home with them?”

This project certainly has given me meaning and purpose, reminding me why I’m here. These stories need to be told. I’m so grateful to be able to tell them. To be honest, I was a little shocked that they hadn’t been told yet. They’ve certainly changed my perspective, I’ll say they’ve hardened my perspective on this issue. I used to probably be a little wishy-washy on the pronoun game, and now I very firmly believe that if you start playing the pronoun game at young ages, even kindergarten and preschool, as some institutions are doing now, you are putting that child on a direct path to lifelong doctor’s appointments, to irreversible … [inaudible 00:42:07] but irreversible substances that will inflict harm on their bodies, and surgeries that no parent would want their child to undergo.

So yeah, I’d say, Inez, I’ve been hardened by … I’ve been both softened and hardened by these stories. I just have so much compassion for the bravery of these parents who have decided to speak out and put a face to this issue. Because I think prior to them speaking out, it was so easy to say, “Well, that’s not really happening. That’s just conservatives fear mongering.” Well, you can’t deny it anymore. Their faces are out here and they’re telling their stories.

Inez Stepman:

What has been the reception to their stories, like I said, besides Google trying to make it so that they’re very difficult to be found, to the thousands of people who have watched these videos that you’ve so compassionately and beautifully put together to tell their stories. Have you heard from listeners, have you heard from … I know that you’re planning actually to do a bit of a film tour and actually screen these videos in cities around the country. What was the reception that you have gotten, and what’s the reception you hope to get with the further, I would say, pre-digital publicization of these videos, going ahead and doing an old-fashioned screening in flesh and blood around the country?

Kelsey Bolar:

Yeah, I’m pleased to say the reception from, I guess, the audience at large has been a lot different from the reception we received by Big Tech, which is to block and censor our stories. Overwhelmingly, these parents have received an outpouring of support. What’s especially amazing to see is the way these parents have been able to take the platform we’ve given them, we’ve started them off on, and then make it their own. A lot of them are choosing to engage further on this issue, to educate the public, to use their personal stories to help other parents and young girls understand what is happening, what is really happening behind closed doors in schools.

We didn’t even get that deep into that, but a lot of public schools are socially transitioning children behind parents’ backs, actually lying to them. In the case of a mother from Alaska who we interviewed, the school was communicating with that mother, using her daughter’s real name and female pronouns, but the second her daughter walked through those doors at school, educators were treating her daughter as a boy. To cut the parents out from a decision as consequential as that, is [inaudible 00:45:09] to fathom as a parent. And it’s easy to write off as somebody who has not experienced it, to say, “Well, that would never happen to me. That must be just a really liberal-woke school out in Seattle.” But this isn’t just happening in very liberal areas. This is happening in schools across the country, and without these stories, I think the public doesn’t want to believe how far down this path we’ve gone.

So, despite Big Tech not letting us advertise those stories, they’ve still been incredibly successful. I’m very grateful to all the conservative outlets, have given them a platform and a voice, have helped us get their stories out there. Mainstream news, I can’t say so much the same, but I do hope the tide is shifting. That is part of the reason we are planning in-person screenings, because I do think it’s important for people to have face-to-face interactions with some of these individuals, the detransitioners, the mothers who are speaking out.

What these screenings will enable you to do is watch a couple of the videos and then ask questions directly of the parents. I think people have a lot of questions when it comes to this topic, and that’s okay. We want conversations, we want questions, we want debate. And since Big Tech is making that a little more difficult to do online, we’re going old school, taking it in person, having movie theater screenings, providing some popcorn, but getting ready to sit down for real, and probably emotional, conversation afterwards with some of these mothers and detransitioners.

The first in-person screening will be in Chicago on November 5th. I believe we’ll have a website live probably today, promoting that, where you can get tickets and join us. Hopefully from there, we’ll bring these to different cities across the country, just to educate and put a face to this issue. I hope that we can perhaps have a more productive conversation if we are in-person, engaging on this issue.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. Well, thank you, Kelsey for coming on High Noon, and thank you for this series. I really highly recommend it. You can find it under Identity Crisis at the IWF website, iwf.org. You can find all of Kelsey’s videos. They are up on YouTube still, even though they’re being throttled and not allowed to be advertised. But they do exist up on YouTube, so you can see all of them there. Kelsey is working on continuing this series with more stories.

Kelsey, you’ve really done such a remarkable job. I’m familiar with Kelsey’s previous work that she alluded to. She’s often done these kinds of really wonderful personal stories, telling people’s stories. But I think this one, this series is really your finest work yet, and your bravest work yet, in terms of what you’ve waded into. I know, as you said, Kelsey’s way nicer than I am. She’s just a peach of a lovely lady. But she has showed remarkable courage and wading into this, and being brave enough to be called, “Not nice.” And that’s the peak of the … the tiniest, tiniest bit of, yeah [inaudible 00:48:48].

Kelsey Bolar:

I’ll say I’m very nice when I tell people that they’re manipulating and mutilating children. I say it very nicely. Always with a smile on my face, “You know what you’re actually doing to children here, right?”

Inez Stepman:

But really, congratulations on this series. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the stories that you’re going to tell. And really do check out those Identity Crisis videos over at IWF. Kelsey Bolar, thank you so much for coming on High Noon.

Kelsey Bolar:

Thank you.

Inez Stepman:

And thank you to our listeners. High Noon with Inez Stepman is a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. There are other podcast productions to the Independent Women’s Forum, including the podcast She Thinks, that is run by Beverly Hallberg, our colleague, and At The Bar, which is a podcast about the intersection of law, politics, and culture that is put together by me and my colleague Jennifer Braceras over at the Independent Women’s Law Center. That’s where we’ll talk about some of these issues like Title IX. But, as always, you can send comments and questions about any of those things to [email protected] Please help us out by hitting the subscribe button and leaving us a comment or review on Apple Podcast, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. Be brave, and we’ll see you next time on High Noon.