The family at the center of a custody battle with Montana Child and Family Services over their 14-year-old “transgender” daughter is reportedly facing imminent arrest after speaking to media about their ordeal. Krista and Todd Kolstad had previously been ordered by a judge to remain silent on the case, but chose to speak out about their situation last week.
Reduxx was first to break the story after speaking to the Kolstads about their tragic situation on January 29. In the interview, the Kolstads revealed that their 14-year-old daughter, Jennifer*, had been removed from their custody after they declined to actively “affirm” her newfound gender identity. Montana Child and Family Services (CFS) argued to a court that it was in the child’s “therapeutic best interest” to have her gender identity “respected,” and a petition was presented for the child to be sent to a family member in Canada.
The removal was the culmination of a months-long battle between the Kolstads and CFS which started on August 18, 2023, after Jennifer claimed to a friend that she was suicidal and suffering from terminal cancer. The friend reported the claims to police, who reached out to the Kolstads to confirm that Jennifer was alright.
Later on that evening, a CFS case worker arrived at the Kolstad home for an inspection and private interview with Jennifer, at which point the child declared she had drank toilet bowl cleaner and overdosed on pain medication.
Though she showed no symptoms of illness and had no access to either substances, Jennifer was taken to the hospital on an emergency basis for bloodwork, which conclusively determined she had fabricated her claim of overdosing. She also does not have a medical history of cancer despite having claimed to her friend that she was terminal.
The Kolstads attempted to inform CFS that Jennifer had a tendency of attention-seeking behavior and fabricating wild claims, but throughout the incident, Jennifer’s “gender identity” was the main point of contention. The child told CFS she identified as a “boy” named Leo, and that her parents were abusive and not willing to facilitate her gender transition.
Jennifer spent two days in the hospital for suicide monitoring, at which point the Kolstads agreed with CFS that she would benefit from being sent to a residential treatment facility for counseling. While there were a number of Montana-based facilities floated as options, the possibility of Jennifer being sent to Wyoming was also mentioned as an unlikely alternative.
On August 22, the Kolstads were told that Jennifer was next in line for a bed in Billings. But, later on that same day, they received a call from the hospital informing them that she was instead being sent to an unnamed facility in Wyoming. Faced with a number of unanswered questions and a concern about Wyoming’s laws allowing children to transition, the Kolstads expressed a hesitancy to allow Jennifer to be sent across state lines.
Within 10 minutes of refusing to immediately sign paperwork releasing Jennifer to the facility, Montana Child and Family Services arrived at the Kolstad residence with police and served them with paperwork temporarily removing Jennifer from their custody.
Jennifer was eventually returned to Montana to enter a youth group home for additional counseling, but the Kolstad’s fight with CFS had only just begun.
Though initially told that Jennifer would be returned to their care after her time at the group home was finished, CFS petitioned the court to remove Jennifer from their custody completely and have her sent to her long-estranged biological mother in Canada.
“We were told that letting Jennifer transition and live as a boy was in her ‘therapeutic best interest’ and because we aren’t willing to follow that recommendation, the court gave CFS custody of Jennifer for six months,” Krista told Reduxx. “CFS is now going to place Jennifer in the care of her birth mother in Canada, who has never really been a part of her life. The judge said to us ‘you need to expect that reunification with your family may not be what you are expecting.’”
In response to the decision, the Kolstads released a video on social media pleading for help. The court demanded they remove it and issued a gag order restricting the Kolstads from speaking further on the case.
They voluntarily defied the order, re-uploaded the video, and spoke to press regardless out of concern over what was happening to their family. While a contempt of court hearing was set for January 29, the Kolstads had to file for a continuance in order to leave the state and attend to a severely ill family member in Ohio.
But the already-mind boggling story has only continued to grow in complexity after the Governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) siding with the decision of the state’s Child and Family Services.
While not directly accusing the Kolstads of abuse, Gianforte suggested that Jennifer was removed from the household for legitimate reasons.
While the CFS affidavit does extensively detail the child’s complaints of abuse for not being “affirmed” in her desire to live as a “boy,” the argument made by CFS that resulted in her being removed from her parent’s care was their hesitancy to immediately sign paperwork sending her to Wyoming.
Both the CFS affidavit and the accompanying report neglect to acknowledge that Jennifer had lied about having terminal cancer, drinking Clorox toilet cleaner, or overdosing on prescription medication — all statements that would lend weight to the parent’s initial warnings that Jennifer had a history of attention-seeking behavior.
All of the documents from CFS reviewed by Reduxx repeatedly state that the Kolstad’s reluctance to allow Jennifer to be transported to Wyoming on-demand was the sole reason for her removal from their custody.
Previous accusations of household instability detailed in the CFS report from 2016 and 2017, both of which involved Todd’s ex-wife, were noted “unsubstantiated,” and there has never been any history of Todd nor Krista physically harming or otherwise neglecting any of their children’s care.
But despite the clear indications that the “abuse” in the Kolstad residence was limited to not affirming Jennifer’s “gender identity” and expressing a hesitancy to sign paperwork allowing Jennifer to go to Wyoming, a push to paint the Kolstad’s as legitimately abusive has begun in an apparent effort to justify CFS’s actions. Disturbingly, many of those pushes appear to originate directly from the Governor’s office.
Travis Hall, Governor Gianforte’s senior advisor, has shared two posts to his social media account in which it is implied that the Kolstads were severely abusing Jennifer.
In one post shared by Hall, a user claims that even children living in “absolute filth, meth labs, with both parents being dealers and addicts” were not taken away from their parents in the way Jennifer was, implying what was happening in the household was far worse.
Another post shared by Hall features a link to an article from TownHall reporter Stephen Brown which appears to have been created with the input of the Governor’s office. In the article, Brown refers to Jennifer with “they/them” pronouns, and runs defense for Gianforte’s suggestion that the Kolstads were abusing Jennifer and that CFS acted appropriately.
On X, an individual claiming to be a lawyer who works to “protect trans kids” in Montana has been spreading the false accusation that Todd Kolstad, Jennifer’s father, was “convicted” of domestic abuse. In actuality, documents reviewed by Reduxx demonstrate the charges, which were unrelated to Jennifer, were dropped in 2021. The Kolstads are currently engaged in a lawsuit against the Glasgow Police Department for their alleged mismanagement of that case, and the officer at the center of the suit is also being pursued by other Glasgow residents for similar acts of misconduct.
But while the Kolstads have experienced an outpouring of support on an international level after taking their story public, Governor Gianforte appears to be doubling down once again.
This time, the Kolstads have been made aware through their lawyer that they may be arrested when they return to Montana from Ohio where they are still caring for a sick relative.
“We were very concerned, but not surprised, to learn from a credible source that the Governor of Montana plans to arrest us the moment we step foot back in Montana. We are also told that he has tasked his senior adviser and director of strategic communications to use the media to punish us for speaking out about the state’s medical kidnapping of our daughter,” Krista Kolstad said to Reduxx in an exclusive statement.
“It was an abuse of power for the state to revoke custody of our daughter because we wouldn’t affirm her ‘gender identity.’ It is an abuse of power to use tax-dollars to smear us as negligent in the press despite records that prove we have always proactively sought care for our daughter’s ongoing, unrelated mental health issues. We have also followed medical recommendations pertaining to these issues since she has been in state custody. The only thing we ever objected to is ‘transitioning’ our daughter.”
Krista continued: “Any accusation that she was taken from our home due to abuse or neglect secondary to this issue is a bald-faced lie with political foundations. Our daughter is not a political pawn. She is a child and she should be with her family – not the state. We are never going to stop fighting for our daughter.”
Since receiving the news of their possible arrest, the Kolstads have no plan to return to Montana at this time.
Mattie Watkins, the family’s media representative reiterated Krista’s sentiments, and slammed Gianforte’s office for participating in the “smear” campaign against the Kolstads.
“We anticipated Governor Gianforte’s next move would be to smear US Air Force veteran, Todd Kolstad and his wife, Krista, as abusive parents. It’s clear that his top priority is his political reputation – not the child at the center of this increasingly political fight,” Watkins said.
“Surely to defame parents as abusive, to take away their child, requires some standard of evidence. If not, where does this stop? Which family, in which state, is next? In my opinion, Gianforte is giving state agents a manual on how to sever the parent-child relationship and bypass all levels of law and government in order to put any minor they like on the affirmation to lifelong medicalization pipeline. Our children are not safe in government care.”
*The child’s name has been changed at the request of her parents.
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