What Is A Woman? is a 2022 documentary on gender and transgender issues released by conservative news site The Daily Wire where political commentator Matt Walsh asks people, including transgender people, surgeons and professors, "What is a woman?" The documentary largely focuses on whether or not male-to-female transgender people are "real women" and looks to shed a light on more controversial aspects and topics surrounding transitioning. The documentary was released on June 1st, 2022, to mixed reception, some calling it transphobic. The concept of defining "what a woman is" has become an increasingly hot topic and viral debate online throughout the early 2020s, partly due to events like the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March 2022 when Senator Marsha Blackburn asked the Supreme Court nominee to define the word "woman."
Building up to the release of the documentary in mid-2022, the debate surrounding the definition of a woman steadily became a growing topic online, coinciding with viral events and controversies. For example, one of the more recent notable incidents was the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March 2022. During the hearing on March 22nd, Senator Marsha Blackburn asked Judge Jackson to define the word "woman," to which Jackson refused and said, "I’m not a biologist." The video went viral shortly after as it was widely discussed and covered online (seen below).
On May 14th, 2022, Matt Walsh posted a trailer for What Is a Woman? to YouTube, gaining over 21 million views in a month (shown below). The trailer shows Walsh talking with a variety of people, including a gender reassignment surgeon, a professor, a gender affirmation therapist, a man who owns a "Star Wars shop" that posted a sign reading "If you are born with a dick you are not a chick" in his store window, an African tribe and Jordan Peterson about what it means to be a woman, if men can transition to women and if male-to-female transgender people are "real women."
On June 1st, 2022, the documentary was posted to DailyWire.com, available for paying subscribers of the website. The site describes the film:
It’s the question you’re not allowed to ask. The documentary they don’t want you to see. Join Matt Walsh on his often comical, yet deeply disturbing journey, as he fearlessly questions the logic behind a gender ideology movement that has taken aim at women and children. Watch “What is a Woman?” now streaming exclusively for Daily Wire members.
On June 2nd, Walsh posted a clip from the documentary to YouTube where he asks the Maasai Tribe in Kenya what they think about transitioning. The tribe members do not believe men can become women, saying men who want to become women must have "something wrong." They also say they've never heard of being non-binary. The clip gained over 983,000 views in a week (shown below).
Reactions and Reviews
The film garnered mixed reactions following its release, with many conservatives receiving it positively and many liberals receiving it negatively. For example, on June 5th, 2022, Twitter user @LazySusan14 posted a tweet criticizing the gender reassignment surgeon from the film for saying vaginoplasty surgery results in a "functioning" vagina, writing, "It seems the only thing people think a vagina is, is a fvck-hole. No other function," gaining over 2,900 likes in a week (shown below, left). On June 9th, Twitter user @NJBeisner wrote, "Go watch What is a Woman. Call me transphobic. Call me whatever you want. I will never shut up about the literal abuse that is happening to children at the hands of LGBTQ activists," gaining over 260 likes in four days (shown below, right).
On June 8th, 2022, "Hasan Piker": posted a video to YouTube clipped from his stream where he reacts to sections of the documentary. He starts by criticizing the editing of Walsh's interview with Dr. Patrick Grzanka, a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies. The scene is edited with a fast forward over most of Grzanka's answer, meant to suggest he's going on a boring rant. The video gained over 245,000 views in a week (shown below).
On June 10th, Rolling Stone writer Moises Mendez II published an article calling the documentary transphobic. That same day, journalist and podcaster Matt Taibbi published a piece on his TK News Substack that discussed the backlash toward his review of the film and the "Difference Between Debate and Bigotry." On June 11th, Walsh tweeted calling it a "hit piece" and claiming he sent a screener to Mendez, providing a screenshot that shows Mendez purportedly watched zero percent of the film before writing the piece, gaining over 19,000 likes in two days.
On June 10th, Candace Owens posted an interview with Walsh on YouTube. At the beginning of the interview, they react to a clip from the documentary where a gender reassignment surgeon says she's performed vaginoplasty on a 16-year-old. Owens says she wants to "punch her in the face" and Walsh calls her "pure evil." They also talk about the Kenyan tribe that Walsh described the idea of transgenderism to and Walsh's interview with a trans man, Scott Newgent, who opposes "radical gender activism" and tells Walsh that gender reassignment surgeries are experimental and have complications that aren't discussed in the mainstream. The video gained over 300,000 views in two days (shown below, left).
On June 11th, YouTuber Gothix posted a video reacting to the documentary, largely supporting Walsh and the ideas presented, gaining over 100,000 views in two days (shown below, right). At points in the video, Gothix defends the "If you are born with a dick you are not a chick" sign and calls transgenderism a mental illness.
On June 12th, 2022, YouTuber graysons projects, a trans woman, posted a video reacting to the full documentary, calling it transphobic. Throughout the reaction, she criticizes the way Walsh cuts the interviews with transgender people and those in support of trans issues and the "gotcha" questions that Walsh asks the interviewees in general, at one point likening transgender people to children who believe in Santa Claus and to people with apotemnophilia, a syndrome where the person desires amputation of a limb. The video gained over 43,000 views in a day.
Also on June 12th, Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe tweeted, "I just finished watching 'What is a Woman?' and it’s eye-opening. It’s 100% worth your time, but depressing to see how far we have fallen as a society," gaining over 4,200 likes and 500 retweets in a day.
On June 13th, The New York Post published an article by Karol Markowics titled "‘What is a woman?’ exposes the lunacy of pro-trans extremism" where she praises the documentary, writing, "Women are being erased from culture. Medical professionals won’t definitively answer what a woman is. Walsh told me 'most of what we’re told from academia and media is vacuous and not grounded in science or reality.' It was scary to watch him prove that right."
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