Joe Biden urged to investigate ‘dangerous’ transphobic bomb threats against hospitals

An image of US President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone

A group of influential health care organisations have urged the Biden administration to investigate a set of anti-LGBTQ+ hoax bomb threats.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) collectively sent a letter to US Department of Justice attorney general Merrick Garland on Monday (3 October).

The organisations, which represent more than 270,000 physicians from over 220 hospitals, urged Garland to investigate groups responsible for “coordinating, provoking, and carrying out bomb threats and threats of personal violence” against pro-trans paediatric hospitals.

“From Boston to Akron to Nashville to Seattle, children’s hospitals, academic health systems, and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” the organisations wrote.

“These attacks have not only made it difficult and dangerous for institutions and practices to provide this care, they have also disrupted many other services to families seeking care.”

Several US hospitals have been threatened with pseudo-bomb threats over the past few months due to misinformation regarding gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.

Several Republican far-right pundits, including Libs of TikTok and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have pushed the false claim that pro-trans hospitals have been performing gender reassignment surgery (GRS) on under-18s.

This is, in fact, not true. US guidelines strictly state that gender-affirming surgeries are not permitted for anyone under the age of 18. Additionally, gender-affirming healthcare, such as hormone blockers, are proven to be physically reversible.

Supporters of anti-trans activist Chris Elston demonstrate against gender affirmation treatments and surgeries on minors, outside of Boston Childrens Hospital.

Supporters of anti-trans activist Chris Elston demonstrate against gender affirmation treatments and surgeries on minors, outside of Boston Children’s Hospital. (Getty/Joseph Prezioso)

But the misinformation campaign has already done its damage. Several hospitals that administer gender-affirming care have been hit with a barrage of vile threats from various anti-trans protestors and pundits.

The campaign came to a head on 30 August when a hoax bomb threat was issued to the Boston Children’s Hospital that prompted local bomb squads to sweep the building.

A woman was later arrested in relation to the threat on 16 September and was charged with one count of making a false telephonic bomb threat.

A police report outlined that a phone believed to be 37-year-old Catherine Leavy’s was retrieved. Leavy, who is believed to have made the call, told the hospital: “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital, you better evacuate everybody, you sickos.”

Since then, local law enforcement has been brought into the hospital to help increase security and prevent continued acts of harassment and violence on the premises.

This and many other worrying acts of harassment and violence were the catalysts for the organisation’s open letter to the current Democratic administration.

It also called on social media companies to do more in preventing misinformation campaigns that breed the type of contemptuous violence seen in Boston.

“Individuals in all workplaces have the right to a safe environment, out of harm’s way and free of intimidation or reprisal,” AMA president Jack Resneck Jr said in a statement. “We condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation.

“The AMA will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hardworking, law-abiding physicians  and other health care workers from senseless acts of violence.”

Biden could be doing more according to UN expert

While Biden’s administration has implemented protections for the LGBTQ+ community, organisational bodies and institutions have argued that it is not enough to turn the tide of attacks.

UN expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz urged Biden to do more in preventing what he called a “deliberate effort” to “roll back human rights”.

He presented his conclusions during a visit to Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program, where he explained that he and many others are “deeply alarmed” by the sheer volume of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in the country.

This included federal laws that were being implemented from state to state that have further restricted rights for LGBTQ+ people, including the deeply divisive “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.