Oct 3, 2022 - Health

Medical groups urge DOJ to investigate threats over gender-affirming care

outside of a children's hospital

Boston Children's Hospital. Photo: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Three major medical groups sent a letter to the Justice Department Monday asking it to investigate increasing threats of violence against children's hospitals and physicians that provide gender-affirming care to trans youth.

Why it matters: Several hospitals have scaled back services and ramped up security in recent months due to threats and harassment, as a wave of laws targeting transgender youth has entered several Republican states.

Of note: The letter sent by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children's Hospital Association to Attorney General Merrick Garland also calls on Twitter, TikTok and Meta to do more to "prevent coordinated campaigns of disinformation."

Driving the news: The threats have caused real-world health care disruptions, including a bomb threat at Boston Children's Hospital after Libs of TikTok, a popular far-right social media account, posted a video to its 1.3 million followers that made false claims about the hospital's gender-affirming care.

  • There have also been cancellations of in-person services and group meetings. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, for example, recently notified families of a support group for trans youth that it was canceled due to threats.
  • Vanderbilt Medical Center's Clinic for Transgender Health shifted its medical appointments to virtual telehealth appointments due to threats.

Meanwhile, children's hospitals and their medical staffs continue to face increased threats via social media, emails, phone calls and protestors at health care sites, according to the letter.

  • Many children's hospitals have increased security due to the threats and are working with local and federal law enforcement.

What they're saying: "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," said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr. in a statement, adding that the group will continue to work with federal, state and local law enforcement officials.

  • The groups are calling on technology platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Meta to do more to prevent coordinated campaigns of disinformation and stop threats or acts of violence.
  • Representatives for the Justice Department, Twitter, TikTok and Meta did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

By the numbers: The groups represent over 270,000 physicians and more than 200 children's hospitals nationwide.

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