Dozens of House Democrats are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to counter online threats of violence directed against several children’s hospitals across the country.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Democrats asked the DOJ to outline the steps the agency is taking to counter anti-transgender threats of violence and to provide further guidance to health care providers on how to protect their staff and patients from such threats.
They also asked the DOJ to respond to several specific questions about its response to the threats, including whether the agency plans to coordinate its response with trans advocacy organizations.
The letter was led by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Dwight Evans (Pa.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), and signed by 33 other Democrats.
The lawmakers’ letter comes after multiple hospitals have scaled back services and ramped up security in recent months due to threats and harassment.
Earlier this year, a woman was indicted for making a hoax bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital and its employees after false claims of child abuse were spread against the hospital by right-wing extremists on social media.
Boston Children’s is home to the nation’s first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program.
The hospital received its third bomb threat last week.
Medical institutions in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C, Pittsburgh and others cities across the country have all reported similar threats, including harassing emails, phone calls and protests that have elevated fears among staff, young transgender patients and their families.
“Online posts by social media accounts spreading disinformation about transgender and nonbinary individuals have spurred real life consequences for health care providers throughout the country and for their patients,” the Democrats wrote.
“When popular accounts share unfounded and hurtful claims about these institutions, millions of followers are instigated to send hostile messages and threaten hospital staff.”
The letter from the lawmakers asked the DOJ to consider the concerns laid out last month by three leading medical associations, which asked the department to investigate threats being made against children’s hospitals and physicians providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
Conservative commentators including Tucker Carlson and Matt Walsh, as well as right-wing social media accounts with large followings such as Libs of TikTok, have alleged that doctors are abusing children by prescribing puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones.