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Three Who Were in Matt Walsh's Anti-Trans Film Say They Were Deceived

Three Who Were in Matt Walsh's Anti-Trans Film Say They Were Deceived

Dr. Marci Bowers

Walsh's team was not honest about the intentions behind What Is a Woman?, according to two doctors and a trans activist.

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Three people who participated in the anti-transgender documentary What Is a Woman? say they were deceived by the filmmakers.

They recently spoke to NBC News, saying those behind the production represented it as an exploration of the issues trans people face. They say “they were unwittingly inserted into ‘gotcha’ moments with right-wing provocateur Matt Walsh, who narrated and starred in the film,” NBC reports.

Dr. Marci Bowers, a surgeon who has trans patients, provided NBC with a copy of an email from producer Rebecca Dobkowitz, stating that the documentary would be about the “challenges [trans people] face in today’s culture,” adding, “Since you are a leading expert and professional in this field, we would love to interview and hear your insights.”

“I didn’t really know about Matt’s conservative credentials,” Bowers told NBC. “They sugarcoated it just a little bit. They didn’t give me an indication of what it would really be about, but they did give me the title of the video.”

In the end, she said, the video was edited “in a way that wasn’t fair, so it doesn’t leave people with any sort of knowledge or education. It just heightens their fears of trans people — to his and his viewers’ loss.” She called Walsh “a bully.”

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University, and Naia Ōkami, a trans woman from Washington State, also said the filmmakers were less than candid about their intentions. “In the movie, Forcier talks about the process children go through in learning about gender, and Ōkami talks about a different subject entirely — her affinity for wolves — as Walsh tries to make a link between animals and trans people,” NBC reports.

Forcier cut her interview with Walsh short when he called puberty blockers “chemical castration” and likened gender dysphoria to a belief in Santa Claus, she said. She concluded he was making a “gotcha” film, noting, “He was getting frustrated because I just wouldn’t say some of the things he wanted me to say.”

The movie also shows Walsh making fun of Ōkami’s love of wolves, even though that has nothing to do with her gender identity, playing into the debunked idea that the trans rights movement could result in humans identifying as other species. “He wanted to use me to make us look ridiculous, to make us look sensational,” she told NBC.

Trans activist Eli Erlick posted on Twitter in February 2022 that Walsh and his team trying to recruit her for a documentary by using a “whole front organization” called the Gender Unity Project. But Bowers, Forcier, and Ōkami had already been interviewed by then. Erlick told NBC that another far-right media figure, Robby Starbuck, employed deceptive tactics in an attempt to get her to be in an anti-trans documentary called It Takes a Village. Starbuck has denied that his film will be anti-trans.

“The style of Matt’s film is going to be replicated,” Erlick said. “I think they’re using it as a model for a new form of far-right disinformation masquerading as a documentary.”

The Daily Wire, a right-wing website that carries Walsh’s podcast and column, released What Is a Woman? to subscribers in June 2022. But a year later, Twitter owner Elon Musk allowed it to be put on that platform for free viewing for a limited time. It received 177 million views in a week and now has surpassed 187 million. Musk promoted it in a tweet of his own, saying, “Every parent should watch this.” Before Musk took over Twitter, the film had been on the site but with a content warning and other restrictions, which he removed.

Bowers and Forcier say they’ve both received much hate mail because they treat trans people. An email Forcier shared with NBC said, “I’m sure Lucifer has a nice warm seat waiting for you.” Others have included “graphic, sexual, violent comments,” she said.

Bowers noted, “I’d been at the front line for a long time, so I’m used to taking a lot of arrows, but we take those arrows and we send them back with kindness and truth.” The doctor, who also treats people who’ve undergone genital mutilation and provides other gynecological services, added, “I’m here helping people in three areas of medicine that are not covered by current services, so I’m pretty certain that I’m doing God’s work. What is Matt Walsh doing but trying to return us to some 1950s simplified version of male and female?”

Walsh and Dobkowitz did not respond to NBC’s requests for comment.

Pictured: Dr. Marci Bowers

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.