Hospitals and providers in 21 different states have faced online harassment for providing gender-affirming care to children in recent months, with the online attacks sometimes escalating into offline harassment and threats of violence, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.
Twenty-four hospitals and providers across 21 states were harassed online following “harassing, inflammatory and misleading” posts from popular right-wing social media accounts, the report from the LGBT advocacy group found.
The report, released on Tuesday, pointed to posts from the right-wing, anti-LGBT Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” and right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh, who is known for his opposition to the transgender community.
“Social media posts from accounts like Libs of TikTok and Matt Walsh kick off a cycle of harassment and stigma, with the ultimate goal of inciting violence and shutting down access to lifesaving and medically necessary gender affirming care,” the report said.
Children’s hospitals that provide gender-affirming care have been frequent targets of harassment, according to the report.
After Libs of TikTok accused Boston Children’s Hospital of providing hysterectomies to transgender minors in August — a claim that has since been debunked — the children’s hospital faced a barrage of online harassment and several bomb threats that forced the hospital to briefly lockdown.
In response, many clinics and hospitals have taken down or altered publicly available information about the gender-affirming care services they provide to protect their patients and staff, according to the report.
The report also blamed right-wing politicians for amplifying the false claims made by these accounts in an effort to “rile up the most extreme members of their base.”
The Human Rights Campaign urged social media companies to take action, given that “these steps begin and continue as a result of social media companies allowing the rhetoric to spread, and remain, online — even when in violation of their own policies.”
However, acknowledging social media companies’ “reticence to act,” the report also called on elected officials to speak out against anti-LGBT violence and hate speech.