- Montana Child Protective Services took custody of Jennifer, 14, this month
- ‘It’s been horrible. It’s torn our family apart,’ her step mother told DailyMail.com
- READ MORE: Woman, 20, sues AAP over claims she was rushed onto trans drugs
A Montana mom and dad who lost custody of their daughter after they refused to transition her gender have told DailyMail.com the ordeal ‘has torn their family apart.’
Krista Kolstad revealed the family’s nightmare began when they received a call that their 14-year-old daughter Jennifer told friends at school that she wanted to commit suicide in August 2023.
Later that night, Child Protective Services (CPS) went to the Kolstad’s home in Glasgow to inspect the house and interview Jennifer, later determining that she needed to transition to get better.
Krista, who is Jennifer’s step mother, and the girl’s biological father, Todd Kolstad, said Jennifer had a tough upbringing and several undiagnosed mental health concerns, including attention-seeking behavior and lying, which they believe caused the urge to transition and were overlooked by social serviecs.
Krista told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s been horrible… Our family unit will never be the same. Even if they returned our daughter to us now, you’re not going to have the same family unit… it’s created a lot of animosity on Jennifer’s part towards us, she doesn’t believe she has to listen to us as her parents anymore.’
Mr Kolstad said: ‘I love my daughter unconditionally, and only want her to refrain from making decisions until she has the maturity and life experiences to understand what the consequences are for her actions.
Jennifer with her step mother Krista (left) before any social transitioning took place. Jennifer (right) after medical staff had allowed her to be socially transitioned, against her parents’ wishes
Jennifer pictured with parents Todd and Krista Kolstad
It comes as a family in Indiana has asked the US Supreme Court to review their lost custody case. Jeremy and Mary Cox, who are evangelical Christians, lost custody of their son in June 2021 after they refused, for religious reasons, for him to start identifying as a girl.
California mom Abigail Martinez, has filed a document offering support of Mr and Mrs Cox. Ms Martinez lost custody of her teenage daughter, Yaeli, in 2016, who was put on testosterone and later died by suicide.
The Kolstads said Jennifer had a traumatizing upbringing. Her birth mother walked out when she was young and was only around sporadically.
Statements from Jennifer and her sister’s counselor showed the girls describing their biological mother as uncaring, abusive and ‘crazy.’
Jennifer has also been repeatedly bullied at school. Mr and Mrs Kolstad even moved districts to try and give their daughter a fresh start at a new school.
‘She’s always wanted to be the super pretty, super popular girl, and who doesn’t?’ said Krista. ‘But she’s always been the crazy smart kid who was in math club.’
When Child and Family Services arrived at the family home, the family let the case worker inspect their house and speak to their daughter alone, but warned her that she had a history of making up stories.
During the interview, Jennifer claimed to have drank toilet bowl cleaner and taken an overdose of painkillers in an attempted suicide.
Jennifer (left) pictured with parents Todd and Krista Kolstad and her sister
Jennifer with step mother Krista, who has brought her up since she was seven years old
Her parents said this seemed highly unlikely because Mrs Kolstad had been working at home all day, and Jennifer did not have access to either substance and had expressed no symptoms of illness.
Despite their doubts, Mr and Mrs Kolstad agreed to take Jennifer to the local hospital to be checked.
Blood work confirmed Jennifer had not consumed any toxic substances.
But medical notes mentioned that Jennifer identified as male and wanted to be called Leo.
‘Our daughter began demanding that she be called Leo, he and him. We explained that this is in her history but not something we would agree to as her parents. The hospital staff ignored our request,’ said Mr Kolstad.
Jennifer had first expressed her desire to change gender to her parents aged 13.
Her parents told her she was too young to make such as decision and sent her to counselling to explore why she felt that way.
Mrs Kolstad said: ‘It wasn’t new, but she hadn’t brought it up in a year. She never came to us and said, “You need to call me this, you need to call me that.” That was never an issue.’
Mr and Mrs Kolstad let the hospital staff know of their objections, and asked that Jennifer be called by her birth name.
‘The hospital continued to call our daughter Leo, even though she’s a minor and after I stated it’s against our wishes, our religion and our core family values.
‘The hospital told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them,’ Mrs Kolstad said.
While medical transitioning of minors is banned in Montana, Mrs Kolstad said the hospital told her that ‘social transition’ was a ‘gray area of the law.’
Jennifer was placed under 24 hour supervision due to her threats of suicide, but Mrs Kolstad said an aide was placed outside her door who would regularly speak to Jennifer about having top surgery and how she was non binary.
Along with CPS, Mr and Mrs Kolstad agreed that Jennifer would benefit from specialized in-patient treatment and counseling at a mental health hospital.
There were six facilities in Montana, as well as one in Wyoming. Mr and Mrs Kolstad raised concerns about Wyoming, as the state allows minors to have gender-affirming care such as hormone blockers and surgical procedures.
They were worried this may happen without their consent.
But just hours later, Mr and Mrs Kolstad were informed there was a bed available in Wyoming Behavioral Institute and that Jennifer must go immediately.
They stated they reiterated their concerns and said they had questions that needed answering before they agreed.
Ten minutes later, CPS showed up at the Kolstad’s house with police and papers removing their daughter from their care, stating they were refusing treatment.
While Jennifer was in Wyoming, she was given men’s hygiene products such as body wash and deodorant.
After a month in the Wyoming facility, Jennifer was moved to a Youth Dynamics group home in Montana where she has remained ever since.
Here, Jennifer has been allowed to wear a chest binder along with only men’s clothes, shave her head and attend all-boys groups.
Jennifer also wanted to be put on birth control in order to stop her menstrual cycle, which Mr and Mrs Kolstad said they were not okay with this.
They were told that Jennifer needs to ‘advocate for herself’ and so an appointment was made with a doctor. Mrs Kolstad told DailyMail.com she has still not been informed of the outcome of the appointment.
The Kolstads were assigned a public defender, who advised them to ‘play nice’ and go along with CPS’s recommendations.
‘We have followed their advice for the last few months and now our rights are being completely stripped away,’ Mrs Kolstad said.
Jeremy and Mary Cox, from Indiana, have also lost custody of their daughter
On January 19, the couple lost custody of their daughter to CPS, who said that allowing Jennifer to be transgender is ‘in her therapeutic interest’ and that her parents are ‘not following recommended therapy.’
CPS was given custody of Jennifer for six months. After that, the plan is to place Jennifer in the care of her birth mother, who now lives in Canada but has never really been a part of her life.
Mr and Mrs Kolstad have chosen to defy a judge’s order to remain silent on the case.
They were due to appear in court yesterday to respond to charges of contempt of court as well as hear the proposed treatment plan for Jennifer going forward, but the hearing has been delayed due Mrs Kolstad’s very sick father in Ohio needing care.
CPS in Glasgow, Montana, told DailyMail.com it had no comment to make.
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Cox’s son was taken from their home after the Indiana Department of Child Services warned a county court the teen was in physical and emotional danger.
According to court records, their son had developed an eating disorder and was at risk of self-harm.
A county judge ordered he was put in a foster home that supported the teen’s chosen gender identity, and banned the Coxes from talking about their faith with their teens during visits.
The Indiana Court of Appeals admitted that a parent-child disagreement usually does not warrant a child’s removal but said this was an ‘extreme case.’
Their son is now a legal adult and cannot be made to return home, but the Coxes said they are worried their other children will meet the same fate.