After Boston Children’s Hospital faces more threats, congressional leaders urge DOJ action

“I am appalled that anyone would sink so low as to threaten children’s hospitals...”

Lane Turner/Globe Staff
A pedestrian passed the Longwood Avenue exterior of Boston Children's Hospital.

Following a recent wave of threats against hospitals providing gender-affirming care — and just days after Boston Children’s Hospital faced yet another bomb scare — several congressional leaders called on the Department of Justice to act. 

In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland Friday, 36 congresspeople urged Garland to outline the steps the DOJ is taking to counter anti-transgender threats of violence and provide further guidance to health care providers on protecting staff and patients. 

“Our trans youth deserve to receive essential, life-saving, gender-affirming health care and our medical personnel should be able to provide it without fear of being attacked,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a statement.


She joined Pennsylvania Rep. Dwight Evans and D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton in leading the letter-writing effort. 

“From the brutal nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs this weekend to the latest bomb threat against Boston Children’s just last week, anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ violence is on the rise and must be taken seriously,” Pressley said. “That’s why we’re calling on the DOJ to immediately step up efforts to help keep health care providers, patients and community members safe.”

The bomb threat sent to Boston Children’s last week specifically cited the hospital’s Gender Multispecialty Service (GeMS) program, which provides gender-affirming care to transgender and non-binary youth.

Founded in 2007, GeMS was the first major program in the U.S. to focus on gender-diverse and transgender adolescents, according to its website. In the years since, however, gender-affirming care has grown increasingly politicized, with several states implementing or considering restrictions to youth access.

Meanwhile, threats against hospitals and providers offering that care have risen exponentially.

Boston Children’s has received several bomb threats this year alone, and the hospital reported in August that it faced a “large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence” toward clinicians and staff.


The letter to Garland named several other institutions that have been targeted and forced to take enhanced security measures, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.; the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“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,” congressional leaders 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.”

They also expressed concern about social media platforms, which they claim have been slow to act to limit the spread of threats and harmful misinformation by users. 

For example, attacks against Boston Children’s began earlier this year when conservative Twitter account LibsofTikTok posted various false information about the services Children’s provides. 

Friday’s letter echoed concerns raised by three major medical associations — the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Children’s Hospital Association — which wrote to Garland last month.


Patients may face a lack of access to critical care as hospitals are forced to focus on threats instead of care, the congressional leaders asserted. They also suggested that the spread of “violent propaganda” could make LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming youth fear seeking medical care or discourage them from coming out. 

“I am appalled that anyone would sink so low as to threaten children’s hospitals that care for many of our most vulnerable Americans,” Evans said in a statement.

He added: “These hateful threats have consumed law enforcement resources and caused disruptions for patients, the families, the staff and the community — and they need to stop!”


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