Lawmakers urge Justice Department to respond to anti-trans threats against children's hospitals

Lawmakers are joining medical associations in asking the Justice Department to step in to protect hospitals that have reported threats and harassment over medical care they provide to transgender children.

In a letter dated Nov. 18, nearly 40 members of Congress expressed their concerns about the issue to Attorney General Merrick Garland. The letter — led by Reps. Dwight Evans, Ayanna Pressley and Eleanor Holmes Norton — comes after Boston Children's Hospital received a third bomb threat Nov. 16.

"We write to you today out of concern for the growing threats of violence against healthcare providers and patients due to anti-transgender extremism," the lawmakers' letter states. "We appreciate that, under your leadership, the Department of Justice has made efforts to reinforce federal nondiscrimination protections nationwide. We urge you to outline the steps the Department is taking to counter anti-transgender threats of violence occurring online and in person and to provide further guidance to healthcare providers on how to protect their staff and patients from such threats."

Hospitals in cities such as Nashville, Tenn., Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have reported harassment in different forms and severity, including from extremist groups on social media. Boston Children's confirmed that police investigated a report of an anonymous bomb threat at the hospital Aug. 30 related to its Gender Multispecialty Service program. No explosive device was located, but the hospital was on lockdown as police investigated. A Westfield, Mass., woman was ultimately charged in connection with the fake bomb threat. Additionally, a man from Canada was arrested in connection with multiple alleged bomb threats in September targeting locations in the Boston area, including Boston Children's.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and Children's Hospital Association asked Mr. Garland to investigate the organizations, individuals and entities responsible for the threats and harassment.

Now, lawmakers said they want the Justice Department to consider the concerns laid out by the medical associations as the department implements policies to counter these threats, and that Mr. Garland should offer a swift response to these organizations.

The letter concludes with a list of questions for the Justice Department about the matter. Read the full letter here

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