Boston Children’s Hospital says it was threatened with violence for caring for transgender children


The hospital said in an emailed statement Wednesday that its clinicians and staff were harassed by phone calls, emails and social media, receiving multiple threats of violence.

The threat has resurfaced after false information spread online that hospitals were performing gender-affirming genital surgery on young children.

Boston Children’s said it provides comprehensive care for children who identify as transgender or non-binary, but the surgery is only performed on consenting adults.

“Eighteen is used to reflect the standard age of adulthood for medical decision-making. Boston Children’s will not perform genital surgery as part of gender-affirming care for patients under the age of 18,” the statement read.

“We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms, and we reject the false narratives upon which they are based. We work with law enforcement to protect our clinicians, staff, patients, families and the broader Boston Children’s community and detain criminals. responsible,” the hospital said. “We will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect our people. »

The harassment followed various posts by social media users, including the Twitter account LibsofTikTok, which shared a series of anti-LGBTQ messages with its 1.3 million followers. In the incident, the account uploaded a video of a doctor explaining a hysterectomy on August 11, but did not mention young girls and minors.

“Boston Children’s Hospital (@BostonChildrens) is now offering ‘gender-confirmed hysterectomy’ to young girls,” the post read.

Reports of threats to Boston Children’s Hospital were “disturbing to say the least,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said Wednesday.

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“Children deserve the opportunity to thrive as themselves. Parents/guardians and healthcare providers who support them in this process should be allowed to do so without threats or harassment. I want to make it clear that the Department of Justice will ensure that Transgender people are equally protected under the law,” attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. on the company’s website.

Rollins says his new hotline 1-83-END-H8-NOW “Dozens of calls”, all leads will be pursued.

“While it is true that freedom of speech is the cornerstone of our great nation, fear, intimidation and threats are not. I will not stand by and allow hate-motivated crime to continue in our region,” she said.

What is gender affirming care?

Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender (the one they were assigned at birth) to their identified gender (she wanted to know gender).

Major medical associations – including American Medical AssociationThis American Psychiatric AssociationThis American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – agree that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults.

The Children’s Hospital Association said it also supports gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate healthcare.

“Research shows that gender-affirming health care improves the overall health and well-being of children and adolescents when families and health professionals work together to make health care decisions,” the Association of Ministers said in an email Wednesday. Condemn all violence and threats against paediatric patients, their families, and medical personnel who make decisions affecting children’s health. »

Similarities to Anti-Abortion Efforts

Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical lecturer at Harvard’s Cyber ​​Law Clinic who has been monitoring anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online for years, said she was “shocked but not surprised” by the threat that followed the message.

“While there is no direct link, there is a wider climate of increased random violence,” she said.

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“When you have accounts with millions of followers amplifying the misinformation that hysterectomies are being performed on ‘young girls’, it’s not surprising that it’s suddenly a reason for people to take action and create threats and harassment at hospitals,” Caraballo added. .

She said Boston wasn’t the first hospital to offer gender-affirming care, but it won’t be the last.

“I don’t think people understand the seriousness of it,” Caballo said of the threat to the LGBTQ community and especially the clinics that provide this type of care. “Homophobia, transphobia, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric are on the rise. »

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Fifteen states have enacted or are considering laws limiting access to gender-affirming care, and in some cases even punishing providers and families who try to seek such care, according to UCLA Williams College, It conducts independent research on laws and public policy related to sexual orientation and gender identity. These states are home to nearly one-third of the nation’s transgender youth.

Caraballo said there may be specific strategies for Boston children. The hospital is located in Massachusetts, which has LGBTQ-friendly laws and it’s nearly impossible to pass legislation banning such care.

“So they’re going to use this type of digital vigilance to basically intimidate and shut down these programs through threats and violence. It’s basically an anti-abortion textbook page, isn’t it? »

Some far-right groups have mapped clinics that offer gender-affirming care and, as one website puts it, “justice for victims,” ​​she said.

The site also encourages people to document what the clinic is doing to showcase “those who harm vulnerable children for profit”.

“in the crosshairs”

Dr. Scott Hadland, chief of the Division of Adolescent and Youth Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, said he decided to speak out against the harassment.

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He did not work for a specific gender-affirming nursing clinic. But he is gay and works with LGBTQ patients, and he says he has been harassed online for posting on social media on behalf of the community.

For example, he received “flooding” threats and homophobic insults when he tweeted against a Florida bill that would restrict teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.

He said a frequent insult was that he was a pedophile.

“It’s painful because I’m a father of two and I’m a pediatrician,” Hadland said.

“I think it’s important to advocate for many things. Advocating for the safety of our colleagues, the health and well-being of young people and their families, and having thoughtful policies for LGBTQ people is important to us and I won’t hold back,” he declared. .

“But even just advocating for care for young people, even if it’s evidence-based, does make you a target. However, sometimes I take a deliberate step back for the personal safety of myself and my loved ones. I hope I don’t have to, but it seems necessary to me.

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