A Philadelphia Congressman is leading an effort to urge the Department of Justice to push back against threats made to children’s hospitals nationally, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for providing care to transgender youth.
Democrat Dwight Evans helped coordinate a letter from more than 30 Democratic members of the House of Representatives to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to take action countering “threats of violence against health care providers and patients due to anti-transgender extremism.”
He and other co-signees on Monday shared with The Inquirer the letter sent at the end of last week.
Last month, three major medical associations — the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Children’s Hospital Association — sent a letter to Garland asking him to investigate the threats.
On Friday, members of Congress asked Garland to outline the steps the Department of Justice is taking to respond to threats online and in person.
“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 lawmakers wrote.
Gender-affirming care refers to medial services forpeople whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. That could include voice therapy, hormones, or surgery.
Republican lawmakers in several states passed laws limiting or banning gender-affirming care for minors, and criminalizing providers. Opposition to care for trans teens has also become a galvanizing force for right wing personalities with large online followings.
Studies show that gender-affirming care can improve the mental health of trans teens and adults.
LGBTQ advocates say the online rhetoric against trans people increases the risk of violence against the community.
On Saturday night, a gunman opened fire in a LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs, Co. killing at least five people and injuring 25. At least two trans people were killed at the shooting in the club, which planned to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance the following day.
The motive of the attack is still under investigation.
The lack of response from the Department of Justice to the letter sent by the medical associations promoted Evans and his colleague to urge action.
Evans has led the effort alongside Ayanna Pressley of Boston and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington D.C. Children’s hospitals in both cities reported threats following posts on social media that made false claims about the provision of gender affirming care to transgender youth.
In September, the FBI charged a Massachusetts woman with one count of making a false bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital.
In their letter to Garland, lawmakers cite The Inquirer’s reporting about how CHOP has had to enhance security in response to threats.
During the last weeks of the midterm election, Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano repeated false claims from conservative social media personalities that CHOP is “grabbing homeless kids and kids in foster care, apparently, and experimenting on them with gender transitioning.”
Lawmakers point to social media platforms as being too slow to respond to such false claims.
“It is important that financial incentive for private companies does not outweigh their responsibility to prevent content that encourages targeted violence from being,” they wrote.