What Is a Woman?

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What Is a Woman?
Directed byJustin Folk
Produced by
  • Justin Folk
  • Dallas Sonnier
  • Charlotte Roland
Narrated byMatt Walsh
Edited byJarrod Leesland
Music by
  • Scott McCrae
  • Ryan Rapsys
Distributed byThe Daily Wire
Release date
  • June 1, 2022 (2022-06-01) (The Daily Wire)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

What Is a Woman? is a 2022 American online film about gender and transgender issues presented by conservative political commentator Matt Walsh. The film was released by conservative website The Daily Wire, with direction by Justin Folk.[1][2] In the film, Walsh asks various people "What is a woman?".[3] Walsh said he made the film in opposition to "gender ideology".[2][3] It is described in some sources as anti-trans[4][5][3][6][7] or transphobic.[8][9] The film was released to subscribers of The Daily Wire on June 1, 2022, coinciding with the start of Pride Month.[2]

The film received mixed reviews. Walsh's approach garnered praise from conservative commentators, while drawing criticism from other sources, including advocates of transgender healthcare.[3][9] According to transgender activists and others who starred in the film, Walsh had invited individuals to participate in the film under false pretenses.[10][11][12] Walsh's tour to showcase the film at college campuses sparked protests.[13][14] In June 2023, during the subsequent Pride Month, the film gained further attention when Elon Musk promoted it on Twitter.[5]


The film features Walsh asking "What is a woman?" and related questions to a variety of people. It discusses topics such as sex reassignment surgery, puberty blockers, transgender youth, and transgender athletes in women's sports.[15][16]

Interviewees include politicians, a pediatrician, a gender studies professor, a psychiatrist, a gender-affirming family and marriage therapist, a transgender person opposing medical transition for minors, a surgeon specializing in gender-affirming surgery, a father of a 14-year-old transgender boy, and Canadian author and psychologist Jordan Peterson.[17][18][19][16] Walsh also discusses non-binary and transgender concepts with a Maasai tribe in Kenya and the film features a gay man practicing public nudity in San Francisco.[17][20][21][22]

In one segment, the film features a speech by Walsh during a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Virginia (he is from Tennessee). The meeting was called to provide a platform for people to express their views on Policy 8040, which instructs staff members to use the preferred name and pronouns of transgender students and allows the students to access school facilities that correspond to their gender identity. In his speech, Walsh says to the board, "You are all child abusers. You prey upon impressionable children and indoctrinate them into your insane ideological cult, a cult which holds many fanatical views but none so deranged as the idea that boys are girls and girls are boys."[3]


Matt Walsh, the main presenter of What Is a Woman?

Walsh said he made What Is a Woman? because he thought that its titular question had not been adequately answered after a tweet he had made four years prior.[23][better source needed]

He stated that he was "not interested in bringing a bunch of people I agree with into a room, asking them questions just so they can give me an answer that I could have said myself, and then slap a bunch of narration on top of it", and that it was important to him to talk to people who do not agree with him to get answers to his questions.[23]

In February 2022, transgender activist Eli Erlick stated that Walsh had invited dozens of people to participate in the film under false pretenses.[24][11] Kataluna Enriquez, Fallon Fox, and several other transgender public figures corroborated the account. Walsh had formed a group called the Gender Unity Project, which the activists asserted was an attempt to lure them into participating in the film.[11][25] Subsequently, following the emergence of these allegations, the Twitter account and website associated with the Gender Unity Project were taken down.[10] According to Erlick, there were at least fifty other individuals recruited for interviews, including a 14-year-old transgender girl.[10][26][27]

In July 2023, NBC News reported that three people who starred in the film said that its producers misrepresented how the film would portray transgender issues and that they were inserted into "gotcha" moments.[12]


A YouTube advertisement for What Is a Woman?

What Is a Woman? was released to subscribers of The Daily Wire website on June 1, 2022, to coincide with the beginning of Pride Month.[2][28][1]

The Daily Wire reported that they were hit with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack during the premiere. However, an article by The Daily Dot cast doubt on the DDoS claim, noting previous technical problems with the website.[28]

On June 14, Walsh published a book and self-narrated audiobook based on the film, titled What Is a Woman?: One Man's Journey to Answer the Question of a Generation, through DW Books, the publishing branch of The Daily Wire.[29]

In May 2022, a transgender man alleged that Walsh used a topless image from his Instagram account in What Is a Woman? without his permission. Twitter refused a request to take down a trailer containing the image.[30]

In September 2022, The Daily Dot reported that Eventbrite, an event management website, was refusing the use of its platform for showcasing the film, citing violations of its community guidelines, including the prohibition of hateful content regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. On September 7, Walsh claimed that website had been refusing screenings since July, describing the categorization of the film as 'hate speech' as absurd and indefensible. Some supporters of Walsh accused Eventbrite of censorship.[31] Walsh also accused Eventbrite of hypocrisy, pointing out that the website permitted the screening of drag shows.[32]

Walsh screened the film on his What Is a Woman? college tour at the University of Houston on October 13, 2022. Police estimated that 435 people attended, with 400 protesters (including transgender rights activists) and counter-protesters outside.[33][13][34] A screening by Walsh at the University of Wisconsin also was met by protesters.[14]

On June 1, 2023, the start of Pride Month, The Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing complained that Twitter had canceled a plan to promote the video, reportedly because of misgendering, and said that the video was being suppressed. Twitter CEO Elon Musk initially agreed to lift only some restrictions, but after being pressured removed all restrictions and personally recommended the video, tweeting on June 2, "Every parent should watch this."[5][9] Chiefs of Twitter's trust and safety division, Ella Irwin and A.J. Brown, left the company on the same day.[5] According to Twitter the film amassed over 170 million views in less than a week.[35] Walsh called Musk's promotion of the film a "huge win".[9]


What is a Woman? had a divided reception. It was described in some journalistic and academic sources as anti-transgender[4][5][3][6][7] or transphobic.[8][9] Some writers, including those in LGBTQ publications, called it propaganda. Writers such as Transgender Day of Remembrance co-founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith described Walsh's perspective on the transgender community as fantastically inaccurate, monstrous or dangerous, inflaming the prejudices of those already against the existence and rights of transgender individuals.[36][37][38][19][6] Eli Erlick, founder of the organization Trans Student Educational Resources, told Rolling Stone that "to believe what's in [the documentary] requires a fantastical hatred of trans people" and that it shows an "appalling lack of research on the trans community".[39]

Tamma Moksha of The Hindu called the film a "twisted exercise in narcissism", adding that "The quality of research and editorial choices of the filmmakers are jarring and ... Walsh's journey in finding out the true definition of a woman seems to come from his decades-long affair with misogyny and not genuine curiosity".[40] AJ Eckert of Science-Based Medicine called the film "every bit as much of a science-denying propaganda film disguised as a documentary as antivax films like Vaxxed or the anti-evolution film Expelled!, and such films tend to be potent messaging tools", concluding that "Walsh clearly did not set out to honestly seek answers to a perplexing question, even if they are complex. Instead, he started with a conclusion and then sought out sources to support that conclusion, no matter how dubious the source, making this film an exercise, not in honest truth-seeking but rather motivated reasoning."[3] Some of those open to Walsh's perspective, such as Zoran Janković of the Serbian magazine Vreme, nevertheless said it had propagandistic aspects.[41] Adam Zivo of the Canadian newspaper The National Post, who agreed there was "absurdity" in the rhetoric of some LGBTQ activists, said it used "bad-faith storytelling to rile up audiences while oversimplifying complex issues", most present in the focus on "'gotcha' moments with his interviewees".[21] John Kendall Hawkins of CounterPunch, who called the film "more conservative silliness", concluded that it "just adds to the relentless white noise we can't seem to escape and adds nothing to our humanity. The film is not worth watching, but its posture is worth noting."[42]

AJ Eckert wrote in Science-Based Medicine that the film "has been widely advertised by pundits, traditional media, and social media platforms opposed to gender-affirming care and especially the use of pronouns, restrooms, and locker rooms" aligning with trans people's gender identities.[3] Texas state representative Matt Schaefer, a Republican, promoted the film on Twitter, encouraging his followers to "ask your Senator or Representative if they have watched".[36] Transgender YouTuber and political commentator Blaire White praised the film in The Spectator Australia.[43]

In reviews, support has mostly come from journalists for conservative, Christian and Catholic publications.[a] Rich Lowry of National Review called it "mesmerizing and extremely disturbing" from the snippets he saw, Amy Welborn of The Catholic World Report "well-produced, amusing, and frustrating", and Gaby Gaduh of Movieguide "lively, provocative, informative, and brilliant".[53][54][55] Samuel Sey of The Christian Post described it as "both hilarious and haunting" and "truly fantastic", with "an impeccable level of satire and seriousness".[56] A few journalists provided favorable comparisons, such as Leor Sapir of City Journal, citing other books and movies that spark "a demand for social reform" such as Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed.[57] Jennifer Graham of Deseret News, who said that Walsh "may be trolling all of us with the film", also suggested Walsh's potential impact on the culture war with his questions.[2] Karol Markowicz of the New York Post and Kai Burkhardt of Die Welt compared it to the works of Michael Moore.[46][52] In fact, Burkhardt and Dimitrije Vojnov of Radio Television of Serbia wrote that with the film, Walsh established himself as the conservative Michael Moore, although Vojnov presented it as a critique of Walsh's bias.[52][15]

The film's only frequent major criticism from those in favor of Walsh's point of view was not doing enough with its goals, such as its exploration of the topic and not drilling down his more "potent" questions.[58][45][49][20][55] Jason Whitlock of Blaze Media criticized it for not mentioning God or Christianity, saying that "it fights a spiritual war on secular terms" and that "before we answer 'what is a woman,' we need to relearn the meaning of being Christian."[59] Both Hayton and Bartosch wrote that the film would have benefited from interviewing gender-critical feminist critics who have also looked askew at similar gender concepts over the years, such as American feminist Janice Raymond, English writer Julie Bindel, Irish journalist Helen Joyce, British philosopher Kathleen Stock, American journalist Abigail Shrier and Women's Declaration International (WDI) president Kara Dansky.[60][61] A couple of pro-Walsh reviews also questioned the film's balance. Mathew De Sousa of The Catholic Weekly said it "provides a fair scope of both leftist and conservative beliefs on core gender issues", but that it "could be a more robust resource for Christians if a little more time was given to those arguments against gender ideology and the transgender agenda."[62] Brett McCracken of The Gospel Coalition added that "a bit more empathy could have strengthened Walsh's case", criticizing his "name-calling" of transgender people as "not a great tactic in persuasion, nor in evangelism."[63]

See also



  1. ^ a b Flaherty, Colleen (August 19, 2022). "UC Santa Cruz grad student targeted for trans activism". Inside Higher Ed.com. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Graham, Jennifer (June 5, 2022). "Perspective: 'What is a woman?' Why most people couldn't answer Matt Walsh". Deseret News. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Eckert, AJ (July 14, 2022). "In What Is a Woman?, Matt Walsh asks a question, but doesn't like the answers". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Tebaldi, Catherine; Baran, Dominika (2023). "Of tradwives and TradCaths: The anti-genderism register in global nationalist movements". Gender and Language. 17 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1558/genl.25635. S2CID 258735598.
  5. ^ a b c d e Tolentino, Daysia; Ingram, David (June 2, 2023). "Elon Musk's response to anti-trans video sparked day of chaos at Twitter". NBC News. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c Harris, Malcolm (July 6, 2022). "The Right's Dangerous 'Just Asking Questions' Anti-Trans Campaign Is Working". Intelligencer. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Billson, Chantelle (June 3, 2023). "Elon Musk's Twitter descends into chaos after row over What Is a Woman? film". PinkNews. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Abdellatif, Amal (January 2, 2023). "Beyond the genitalia: What is a hu-WO-man?". Organization: 135050842211455. doi:10.1177/13505084221145532. ISSN 1350-5084. S2CID 255732369.
  9. ^ a b c d e Woodward, Alex (June 5, 2023). "'Elon Musk promotes transphobic content as hate speech surges on his far-right platform". The Independent. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Fallert, Nicole (February 8, 2022). "A Group Tried To Dupe Transgender People Into Giving Interviews For An Apparent Anti-Trans Film Project". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 5, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Collman, Ashley (February 10, 2022). "Trans activists accuse conservative podcaster Matt Walsh of trying to lure them into participating in an anti-trans documentary". Insider. Retrieved July 6, 2022.
  12. ^ a b "3 people say they were tricked into appearing in an anti-trans film". NBC News. July 26, 2023. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  13. ^ a b Ketterer, Samantha (October 13, 2022). "Hundreds of transgender rights allies protest Matt Walsh's 'What is a Woman?' speech at UH". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  14. ^ a b Thibert, Audrey (October 25, 2022). "Matt Walsh visit to UW campus elicits protest, contention". The Badger Herald. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Vojnov, Dimitrije (June 9, 2022). "Rod, pol i žene gledane očima američke desnice" [Gender, sex and women seen through the eyes of the American right]. Radio Television of Serbia (in Serbo-Croatian).
  16. ^ a b James, Dante (June 10, 2022). "What Is A Woman?". Film Threat. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Rafter, Darcy (June 2, 2022). "Matt Walsh's 'What Is A Woman?' doc kicks off Pride Month". HITC. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  18. ^ Kearns, Madeleine (June 10, 2022). "A Significant Concession". National Review. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  19. ^ a b c Robinson, Nathan J. (June 15, 2022). ""What Is A Woman?" Is a Feature-Length Exploration of Conservative Ignorance and Prejudice". Current Affairs. ISSN 2471-2647. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  20. ^ a b c Bartosch, Jo (June 7, 2022). "The mad, bad and sad world of gender ideology". Spiked!. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Zivo, Adam (June 10, 2022). "Adam Zivo: 'What is a Woman' doc reveals activist absurdity, but ultimately fails". National Post. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  22. ^ Wolfsohn, Jack (June 7, 2022). "Matt Walsh Stumps the Left with One Simple Question". National Review. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  23. ^ a b Williams, Kori (June 3, 2022). "A New Documentary Is Asking: "What Is a Woman?"". Distractify. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  24. ^ "Anti-Trans Matt Walsh tries to lure Trans people into fake documentary". Los Angeles Blade. February 8, 2022. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  25. ^ Collman, Ashley (February 15, 2022). "Conservative film crew continues to try and trick trans activists into appearing in mysterious documentary, Miss Nevada USA says". Business Insider. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  26. ^ Baragona, Justin (February 8, 2022). "Far-Right Troll Tried to Dupe Trans People Into Joining His Anti-Trans Documentary". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 6, 2022.
  27. ^ Parsons, Vic (February 10, 2022). "Anti-trans troll Matt Walsh 'tried to trick trans people into fake documentary'". PinkNews. Retrieved July 6, 2022.
  28. ^ a b Goforth, Claire (June 3, 2022). "Did the Daily Wire actually get hit with a DDoS attack during the launch of its transphobic new documentary?". The Daily Dot. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  29. ^ Walsh, Matt (2022). What Is a Woman?: One Man's Journey to Answer the Question of a Generation. Nashville, TN: DW Books. ISBN 978-1956007008. OCLC 1322213918.
  30. ^ Goforth, Claire (May 20, 2022). "Matt Walsh used trans people's Instagrams in his transphobic documentary—it's already sending hate their way". The Daily Dot. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  31. ^ Goforth, Claire (September 8, 2022). "Matt Walsh fans are trolling Eventbrite for cancelling screenings of his transphobic documentary". The Daily Dot. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  32. ^ Villarreal, Daniel (September 9, 2022). "Anti-trans troll Matt Walsh is upset that Eventbrite won't allow screenings of his film". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  33. ^ Sessions, Kennedy (October 11, 2022). "Conservative Commentator Matt Walsh's Upcoming Appearance at Texas Campus Sparks Backlash". Texas Signal. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  34. ^ "Students gather to protest conservative filmmaker Matt Walsh's appearance at University of Houston". ABC13 Houston. October 14, 2022. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  35. ^ Arnold, Tyler (June 7, 2023). "One Year After its Initial Release, 'What Is A Woman?' Passes 177 Million Views on Twitter Within A Week". National Catholic Register. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  36. ^ a b Rook, Erin (June 8, 2022). "The dangerous deception of Matt Walsh's documentary "What is a Woman?"". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  37. ^ Smith, Gwendolyn Ann (July 17, 2022). "Transmissions: What is a woman?". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  38. ^ Kadue, Katie (September 6, 2022). "What Is a Woman?". Gawker. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  39. ^ Mendez II, Moises (June 10, 2022). "Why Are Social Media Companies Taking Ad Money From a Right-Wing Transphobic Doc?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  40. ^ Moksha, Tamma (June 12, 2023). "'What is a Woman?' documentary review: Matt Walsh's twisted exercise in narcissism". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  41. ^ Janković, Zoran (July 6, 2022). "Film: The Janes i What is a Woman?". Vreme (in Serbian). Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  42. ^ Hawkins, John Kendall (June 14, 2022). "The Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World". CounterPunch. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  43. ^ White, Flat (June 7, 2022). "Blaire White on 'What is a Woman?'". The Spectator Australia. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  44. ^ White, Kaylee McGhee (June 8, 2022). "Inside the effort to erase the female identity and objective truth: A review of Matt Walsh's What is a Woman?". Washington Examiner. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  45. ^ a b Power, Nina (June 14, 2022). "Trans Barbarism". Compact. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  46. ^ a b Markowicz, Karol (June 13, 2022). "'What is a woman?' exposes the lunacy of pro-trans extremism". New York Post. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  47. ^ Dodsworth, Laura (June 8, 2022). "What is a woman?". The Critic. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  48. ^ Dreher, Rod (June 9, 2022). "Courage & 'What Is A Woman?'". The American Conservative. Archived from the original on June 9, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  49. ^ a b Hayton, Debbie (June 17, 2022). "'What is a woman?': the disturbing film about trans rights". The Spectator. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  50. ^ Ahern, Erika (June 2, 2022). "The Question: What is a Woman?". CatholicVote.org. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  51. ^ Schneible, Ann (July 27, 2022). "'What Is a Woman?'". National Catholic Register. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  52. ^ a b c Burkhardt, Kai (August 29, 2022). "'Die einfache Frage, die Amerikas Gender-Experten in die Verzweiflung treibt'". Die Welt. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  53. ^ Gaduh, Gaby (June 10, 2022). "WHAT IS A WOMAN?". Movieguide. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  54. ^ Lowry, Rich. "You'll Never Think of a Chicken Crying the Same Way Ever Again". National Review.
  55. ^ a b Welborn, Amy (June 3, 2022). "Matt Walsh's film What is a Woman? is both valuable and incomplete". The Catholic World Report. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  56. ^ Sey, Samuel (June 7, 2022). "'What is a Woman?' (review)". The Christian Post. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  57. ^ Sapir, Leor (June 10, 2022). "Transgenderism and the Therapeutic Attitude". City Journal.
  58. ^ Hayton, Debbie (June 17, 2022). "'What is a woman?': the disturbing film about trans rights". The Spectator. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  59. ^ Whitlock, Jason (June 6, 2022). "Whitlock: Matt Walsh's 'What Is a Woman?' is great, but America must first relearn 'What Is a Christian?'". Blaze Media. Retrieved October 19, 2023.
  60. ^ Jo Bartosch. "The Mad, Bad, and Sad World of Gender Ideology: Matt Walsh's What is a Woman? exposes the delusions of the trans lobby". Spiked Online. Retrieved June 3, 2023. What is a Woman? does have its blindspots. It builds upon the work of feminist writers and academics – including Helen Joyce and Kathleen Stock in the UK and Abigail Shrier and Kara Dansky in the US – but Walsh does not reference their contributions. Nor does he mention the groundbreaking work of Janice Raymond, who warned of the threat posed by transgenderism way back in 1979 in her book, The Transsexual Empire.
  61. ^ Debbie Hayton (June 17, 2022). "What is a woman? The trans film that makes for harrowing viewing". The Spectator. Archived from the original on May 15, 2023. Retrieved June 3, 2023. Disappointingly, Walsh didn't consult the British and Irish writers and speakers who know more than most about what it means to be a woman, or indeed what it means to be a man. ... Helen Joyce's Trans and Kathleen Stock's Material Girls are superb commentaries. Those two authors – distinguished in journalism and academia respectively – are walking antidotes to the gobbledegook, but neither were featured. And how could any commentary on transgender nonsense fail to cite Julie Bindel who was ploughing this furrow when Walsh was still at school?
  62. ^ Sousa, Mathew De (June 7, 2022). ""What is a Woman" Review". The Catholic Weekly. Retrieved October 18, 2023.
  63. ^ McCracken, Brett (October 18, 2022). "Review: 'What Is a Woman?' (Walsh) and 'Eve in Exile' (Merkle)". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved June 11, 2022.

External links