Parents Krista and Todd Kolstad have accused the state of Montana of “kidnapping” their teenage daughter, Jennifer*, after she began identifying as a transgender boy named “Leo.”
The Kolstads’ ordeal began in August 2023 when Jennifer expressed suicidal ideations at school. Krista, Jennifer’s stepmother, noted that Jennifer had always faced challenges at school, including bullying, and had undiagnosed mental health concerns.
A case worker from Montana Child and Family Services (CFS) visited their home for an inspection. During this visit, Jennifer claimed to have ingested toxic substances in a suicide attempt, a claim that was later disproven by medical tests.
The situation escalated at the hospital, where Jennifer was admitted for her suicidal ideations. The hospital staff, acknowledging Jennifer’s preference to be identified as Leo, a male, clashed with the Kolstads’ request to refer to their daughter by her birth name.
Krista and Todd shared their experience with Reduxx, disclosing that their child had been taken from their custody and is now being relocated to Canada.
Krista Kolstad explained, “We were very clear to the emergency room staff as well as [CFS] that this goes against our values, morals, and our religious beliefs.” The hospital’s stance on social transitioning, which was a grey area in Montana law, further complicated matters.
“They told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them.”
“I came one day and she was talking about having top-surgery and being non-binary,” referring to the aide. When she brought her concerns to the on-duty Doctor, he was dismissive. “He told me, ‘why are not you more concerned that your daughter is trying to harm herself, then what [the aide] is talking about?’” Krista recalled.
The Kolstads agreed to Jennifer receiving specialized residential care for treatment and counseling. However, they were alarmed when Jennifer was unexpectedly moved to a facility in Wyoming, fearing the state’s more lenient laws on transitioning minors. Their concerns were dismissed, and shortly after, CFS arrived with police to serve papers removing Jennifer from their care, citing their refusal to provide medical care.
“They told us that there were 6 facilities in Montana, but that there was also a facility in Wyoming. And at that point, because we were already in such a state from the hospital disrespecting us and our wishes, we immediately looked up Wyoming’s laws on transitioning minors,” Krista explained.
“It looked to us like kids could go ahead and have procedures done and have hormones without parental consent.”
Jennifer was later returned to Montana but placed in a Youth Dynamics group home under temporary legal custody of CFS. The Kolstads faced challenges in maintaining their parental rights, with incidents of Jennifer receiving vaccines and undergoing changes like shaving her head without their consent.
“They called and told us that a bed had opened up in Wyoming and that Jennifer needed to go. [The Doctor] said ‘she has to go. she’s not doing any good here,’ and we were really blown away,” she continued. “No one talked to us about the the name of the facility — we had no one to answer our questions. We told them we wanted our questions answered before we accepted the bed.”
In January 2024, the court transferred custody of Jennifer to CFS for six months, planning to place her with her birth mother in Canada, who had been largely absent from her life. “She’s never called to see how [Jennifer] is. She’s never sent her anything. Nothing,” Krista said of her birth mother.
“We will continue to fight,” said Krista. “We will never give up on our daughter and for what we believe is morally right. We will continue to tell our story, even though we are currently in contempt of court, and try to keep other families from going through this. Our greatest fear is that our daughter is now going to become a victim of this system and eventually take her own life.”
*The child’s name has been changed at the request of her parents.