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Groups Urge DOJ to Investigate Transgender Care Attacks


Three medical organizations are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the origins of a recent spate of threats against physicians and hospitals providing pediatric transgender care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to “investigate the organizations, individuals, and entities coordinating, provoking, and carrying out bomb threats and threats of personal violence against children’s hospitals and physicians across the U.S.”

They also called on social media platforms to do more to stop the rhetoric that incites these threats, as several of the campaigns have been incited by posts from the social media user LibsofTikTok.

“The attacks are rooted in an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information targeting individual physicians and hospitals, resulting in a rapid escalation of threats, harassment, and disruption of care across multiple jurisdictions,” the groups wrote in the letter to Garland.

Children’s hospitals in several cities — including Boston; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Nashville; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; and Akron, Ohio — have recently been targeted for offering transgender care services.

In August, Boston Children’s Hospital was hit with “threatening and aggressive” phone calls, emails, and online attacks after false claims circulated online alleging the hospital provides hysterectomies to young girls. A woman was also arrested and charged for making a bomb threat against the hospital.

Similar events played out at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., that same month, and in September at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Both of those hospitals removed information about transgender care from their websites.

The threats made it difficult for the institutions to provide care and disrupted many other services, according to the letter. In one hospital, it stated, a new mother was prevented from being with her preterm infant because the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit was on lockdown due to a bomb threat.

The groups noted that children’s hospitals across the country have had to substantially increase security and are working with local and federal law enforcement to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

Some providers have even required 24/7 security, the letter stated.

“Providers of evidence-based gender-affirming healthcare and their colleagues are facing increased stress and fear on top of the conditions they have faced while working on the front lines of a global pandemic for nearly three years,” the groups wrote in the letter.

The three organizations also called on Twitter, TikTok, and Meta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — to do more to prevent coordinated disinformation campaigns. They also asked the social media platforms to take broader action when false information about specific institutions and physicians is shared on their sites.

AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, said in a statement, “As physicians, we condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to grave real-world violence and extremism and jeopardize patients’ health outcomes.”

Together, the AAP, AMA, and CHA represent more than 270,000 physicians and more than 220 children’s hospitals in the U.S.

  • Kristina Fiore leads MedPage’s enterprise & investigative reporting team. She’s been a medical journalist for more than a decade and her work has been recognized by Barlett & Steele, AHCJ, SABEW, and others. Send story tips to k.fiore@medpagetoday.com. Follow





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