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A Montana family is sharing their heart ache after the state of Montana removed their daughter from their custody for refusing to transition her. Speaking to The Daily Mail, Krista Kolstad of Glasgow, MT revealed their trouble began when her 14-year-old stepdaughter, referred to as “Jennifer,” told peers that she wanted to commit suicide in August. Krista and Jennifer’s biological father, Todd, said their daughter had a history of mental health issues, including attention-seeking behavior and lying. They had previously moved her from one school to another in order to escape bullying. The day of the incident in August, a caseworker from Child and Family Services (CFS) showed up at the Kolstad house as they were preparing dinner. They let the worker in for an inspection. Jennifer told the worker that she had consumed toxic chemicals, including toilet bowl cleaner and painkillers in order to attempt suicide. Krista, however, told Reduxx that it was highly unlikely as she had no symptoms of feeling unwell.

In order to appease the caseworker despite their doubts, the Kolstads agreed to take Jennifer to the emergency room. According to Reduxx, records provided to them by the Kolstads showed no abnormal substances in Jennifer’s system but did note her desire to be male and called “Leo.” Hospital staff referred to Jennifer by Leo, despite the Kolstads’ objections. “We were very clear to the emergency room staff as well as [CFS] that this goes against our values, morals, and our religious beliefs. They told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them,” said Krista. Medical transitioning of minors is prohibited in the state of Montana, however, social transitioning, where a student dresses and identifies as the opposite sex, is described as a “gray area.” The Kolstads state medical staff continued to speak with Jennifer about “gender-affirming care” and top surgery, and that they were chastised for not respecting Jennifer’s wishes.

After it was agreed that Jennifer should be sent somewhere for residential care, the hospital began to look up facilities to send her, with six available facilities in Montana and one in Wyoming. After looking up laws in Wyoming, the Kolstads found that the state permits minors to medically transition without parental consent. They expressed their desire to keep Jennifer in Montana and on August 22, they were told she would be placed in Billings, MT. However, according to Krista, hours later they were informed by the hospital that Jennifer would be sent to Wyoming. When they refused to have her sent there after staff would not answer their questions, police showed up at their home to take Jennifer. “They showed up at our home to serve us with papers to take Jennifer out of our care. They told me the reason was that we were ‘unable or refusing to provide medical care.’ That’s just not true,” said Krista.

The Kolstads were not allowed to say goodbye to Jennifer, despite her being allowed to say goodbye to friends, and while she was in Wyoming, they could not communicate with her directly, only through her counselor. Jennifer was returned to Montana on September 25 and remains in a Youth Dynamics group home. “They called it ‘temporary legal custody,’ which means they have the say over where she is at, but we are supposed to be able to have the say over everything else. But that was not upheld. There were incidents of her getting vaccines we did not consent to, we were not told the name of the Doctors involved, and she was allowed to shave her head,” said Krista. Jennifer also reportedly wore a chest binder. On January 19, 2024, a court ruled to hand over custody of Jennifer to CFS, determining Jennifer’s transition was “therapeutically necessary.” CFS has determined to place Jennifer with her birth mother, who lives in Canada and has not been a substantial part of her life, according to the Kolstads. Krista also stated a former counselor of Jennifer’s cited that her birth mother, Christine, has been called abusive by her children.

Montana governor, Greg Gianforte, a Republican, defended Montana CFS. “Upon hearing recent allegations related to a child welfare case, I asked Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras – an experienced attorney, constitutional conservative, mother, and grandmother – to review it. Consulting with the director of DPHHS and personally examining case documents, Lieutenant Governor Juras has concluded that DPHHS and the court have followed state policy and law in their handling of this tragic case,” he said. The Kolstad’s legal options are limited, and they have limited contact with their daughter. They have defied a judge’s order to remain silent on the case by speaking out. They are also pursuing legal avenues against CFS and the group home.

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