Okay, I just watched the Matt Walsh transphobic documentary What Is a Woman?
I’m a woman. And I hated Matt Walsh’s documentary.
When it comes to conservative comedy, Matt Walsh is no South Park. Walsh’s entire movie is basically Walsh being a passive-aggressive dick to women while carefully editing their answers so that it appears that almost none of the daffy double-X chromosome people can really even define their own gender.
Is What Is a Woman? completely devoid of good points? No. The title alone is very good. The question “What is a woman?” shows the inescapable weakness of trans ideology. Circular definitions (“A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman”) are not answers. If you have to give the only right answer to the question (“A woman is an adult human female”) then you must accept that so much of what is pounded into our heads these days about how gender is purely a social construct is wrong.
One portion of the doc that really drives this point home is when Walsh interviews several Maasai tribemen about transgenderism and the concept of being non-binary. The reaction of the Maasai people shows how much trans activism, being “non-binary,” and stating that gender is a spectrum are very much pampered wealthy Western narratives.
Of course these rare good points are hard to dig out amid a sense of overall hogwash and propaganda that permeates What Is a Woman? Walsh interviews some real whackadoodles and tries to make them out to be rational people. Dr. Jordan Peterson makes an appearance, looking like a wild-eyed B-movie scientist trying to warn the world about robot sharks. Walsh also interviews Sarah Stockton, who has a very strange vibe about her. Stockton says children are allowed to identify as animals in public schools, which is blatantly untrue. That story has been circulating in transphobe circles for months and it’s been debunked.
Walsh also platforms people who do, in my opinion, deserve to be heard. Walsh interviews a former teammate of Lia Thomas who talked about how the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team was forced to undress in the same locker room as Thomas, a 6’3" AMAB non-passing trans person with a penis. If the other women felt scared or disturbed about sharing a locker room with Thomas, the women were threatened by the University of Pennsylvania with being kicked off the swim team (and possibly losing their scholarships).
Matt Walsh also interviews Scott Newgent. Newgent is FTM and I’m not sure what pronouns Newgent prefers at this point. (Newgent repeatedly says “I’m a biological woman” but clearly still prefers to present masc so I’m just going to say “Newgent”). Newgent’s testimony about how Newgent’s transition completely ruined Newgent’s life is heartbreaking. We see Newgent before transition as a very attractive, successful women with 80s-style short hair and a sort of androgynous style. Newgent was a slightly gender-nonconforming woman, an “alpha female.” Newgent states that psychologists stated that Newgent was “in the wrong body.”
Newgent describes gender-affirming surgery has having a 67% complication rate. Newgent quotes a lot of stats that frankly I would love a citation for. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are studies out there showing no reduction for suicidality over the long term for post-transition trans people (and high rates of “desistance” or gender dysphoric youth continuing to identify with their natal sex (often becoming merely non-gender-conforming cis gay people) if gender dysphoric youth are not put on blockers) … but neither Newgent nor Walsh show those citations in the film.
Newgent and several other people Matt Walsh interviews say that trans activism is a cover for big pharma because it medicalizes people for life. I agree that transitioning turns people into permanent medical patients which is why ALL OTHER ALTERNATIVES for gender dysphoria must be exhausted without fear of backlash before someone with gender dysphoria goes on blockers or cross-sex hormones…. but I don’t think trans activism is funded by “Big Pharma.” That just sounds like the regular conspiracy theory porridge that people mix into their personal paranoid narratives. It’s the same technique people used with anti-vaccine conspiracies or anti-SRI conspiracies. “It’s a conspiracy by Big Pharma!!!”
If you’re going to make an argument saying transition is harmful and destructive, you need to put the citations for the studies affirming your argument on the screen. If not, it sounds like you’re making up statistics.
And Walsh does put citations onscreen when he has the studies. At one point Walsh puts up a bizarre chart (also known as Table 34) from (in)famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey where Kinsey reportedly measured orgasms experienced by children from birth to adolescence. So Walsh knows how to cite evidence onscreen when the evidence exists.
Matt Walsh is no friend to TERFs. He spends a lot of time in his documentary marching among people protesting the reversal of “Roe v. Wade” and essentially harassing a bunch of distressed women. Walsh doesn’t care that women are scared and angry that their healthcare is being stripped away. He just pulls out a loudspeaker as the women chant about their basic bodily autonomy rights and yells “What is a woman?!”
Did I laugh a couple of times during What Is a Woman? Yes, I did. Mostly when Matt Walsh was confronting men. When Walsh confronts a male nudist, the nudist talks about how children raised around “non-sexual nudity” have fewer “hang-ups.”
“People do have hang-ups,” Walsh replies, “There are a lot of things hanging right now.”
I also admit to laughing out loud when Dr. Patrick Grzanka (a man who is teaching women’s studies, which I already have an issue with) tries to intimidate Matt Walsh when Grzanka realizes Walsh isn’t on Grzanka’s side. “You’re walking on thirty seconds more of thin ice before I get up!” Grzanka says and he sounds so pathetic. Matt Walsh is not on my side, but I do confess to a bit of schadenfreude seeing Walsh make a male mansplaining anti-TERF “feminist” like Prof. Grzanka look like the fool he is.
Matt Walsh’s documentary What Is a Woman is a huge contrast to Megan Phelps-Roper’s The Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast. Megan Phelps-Roper put together a bunch of intelligent feminists, scientists and psychologists (including Dr. Erica Anderson, who is trans) when she made The Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast. Phelps-Roper’s podcast encompasses the views of TERFs far better than Matt Walsh.
TERFs believe that 1) Trans people exist, 2) Trans people deserve all rights and dignity as every other person, 3) Being trans is far more rare than trans activists are leading people to believe, 4) Gender non-conforming expression is awesome and does not merit transition, 5) No one should medically transition before the age of 18, 6) Women deserve sex-only spaces for their own protection, and that includes changing rooms, bathrooms, jails, rape shelters, homeless shelters, etc., 7) Dresses, make-up and pronoun use alone does not change your gender, 8) Women are women, trans women are trans women, 9) A woman is not a costume, 10) A woman is an adult human female.
Matt Walsh believes that 1) Women are weak stupid ninnies, 2) Trans people are gross, sexually-deviant men or butchered victimized women and 3) Women are kitchen-dwellers who are too weak to even open a jar of pickles
Not a lot of overlap there. Blaire White, a conservative trans woman, did say in her (generally positive) review of Matt Walsh’s movie that she wished Walsh had interviewed more well-adjusted trans people like herself or Buck Angel. White didn’t like how Walsh mostly interviewed angry, odd, non-passing trans women or sad regretful trans men.
Walsh’s choice in interview subjects was by design, of course. Interviewing a beautiful, passing, conservative trans woman like Blaire White would disrupt Walsh’s narrative that all trans people are horrifying science experiments, even if White does agree with a lot of Walsh’s views.
Should you watch What Is a Woman? if you are a TERF? No. Listen to Megan Phelps-Roper’s The Witch Trials of JK Rowling instead. Phelps-Roper’s podcast is a far more compassionate, fair and down-to-earth examination of feminism v. trans rights. And Megan Phelps-Roper, unlike Matt Walsh, is a woman. Which makes a difference.
Because we all know what a woman is.