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‘What is a Woman’ campus stop prompts drama, debate: ‘We are living through a period of mass psychosis’

YAF Matt Walsh event creates controversy at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

URBANA, Ill. — Conservative firebrand Matt Walsh took the stage at the University of Illinois on Thursday night, challenging transgender ideology and declaring it’s the hill he is “willing to die on” as protesters chanted “trans women are women” outside the venue.

Walsh’s campus tour is based on his Daily Wire documentary “What is a Woman?” It was the second stop in a six-stop campus tour this month hosted by conservative campus chapters of Young America’s Foundation.

His visit prompted protests prior to and during the event, including chants and stomping outside the building by demonstrators as Walsh kicked off his talk. Prior to the speech, protesters also held signs such as “transitioning saves lives” as attendees walked in.

Walsh told his standing-room-only audience gender transitioning is “castrating” children. To his challengers, Walsh said if they want him to be silent, “you are going to have to throw me in a jail cell.”

“If there is any hill worth dying on,” he said, “it’s the hill of objective truth.”

“We are living through a period of mass psychosis that is very truly unprecedented,” Walsh said. “… It seems as though, all at once, millions of our countrymen woke up one day having forgot the basics of reality. … At the heart is the apparent confusion over human biology.”

Asked whether he thinks he is “uncancelable,” Walsh joked if Elon Musk takes over Twitter, “I am going to go on a misgendering spree.”

Walsh said the real issue boils down to relativism: “The ultimate goal of gender ideology … goes far beyond gender. The ultimate goal is to undermine, destroy, erase truth itself.”

Asked how the public education system influences identity choices, Walsh said “I think what we are being told by academia, what kids are being told at the youngest possible ages, is that their fundamental human identity is up to their own whim … that there is nothing solid or objective about them.”

Calling himself a “bumpkin in a flannel,” Walsh said the simple way to defeat transgender ideology is to simply ask questions.

One of the students who took part in the Q&A Thursday evening described herself as a former transitioner who felt “very blessed” to have “made it out of that situation.”

Prior to Thursday’s talk, some YAF students had fun with the fact that “anti-racism” scholar Ibram X. Kendi spoke at the University of Illinois earlier in the day. Students jokingly reserved a seat for him, but crossed out his name and replaced it with his given name: “Henry Rogers.”

In the days leading up to Walsh’s speech, some fliers on campus advertising it were vandalized, YAF reported. The university’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center also hosted a poster-making and counter protest to the event, according to an email obtained by YAF.

A group calling itself “mischief makers” had also worked to coordinate a disruption. Organizers discussed wearing blue, pink and white clothes and gathering into a “massive trans pride flag,” YAF reported, citing Reddit screenshots. But the plans were canceled, the foundation added.

On Thursday, many were turned away at the door as the venue at the University of Illinois only had 350 seats, but YAF livestreamed it as well.

Walsh’s first stop was at Catholic University of America on Tuesday and his tour includes four more stops later this month at the University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Alabama.

Editor’s note: The author of this article is a member of University of Iowa YAF.

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IMAGE: YAF / YouTube screenshot

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About the Author
Jasmyn Jordan - University of Iowa