Anti-trans extremists target US hospitals for treating transgender patients
Hospitals and doctors caring for young members of the transgender community are facing unprecedented attacks and vitriol across the United States.
This wave of violence began in August when Boston Children’s Hospital received a barrage of abuse for offering a pediatric and adolescent and transgender health program. Much of the hostility was provoked by misinformation that the program offered children gender-affirming surgery. Anti-trans activists harassed doctors. Police sent a bomb squad to the hospital after it reported an anonymous threat.
Leading this campaign of hate is the far-right social media account “Libs of TikTok,” which has more than a million followers. Now it has turned its attention to the Johns Hopkins All Children Hospital in Florida, characterizing it as a place where healthcare providers take advantage of children. This absurd accusation has led to reams of comments on social media describing the healthcare providers as “groomers.” Some commenters have threatened to shoot hospital staff.
And now anti-trans activists can access an interactive Google map with pins on every LGBTQ community center, nonprofit organization and transgender care clinic in the country.
“It’s a one-stop shop for someone who wishes to do harm,” said Alejandra Caraballo, a civil rights attorney and clinical instructor at Harvard University, who recently drew attention to the fact that Google had not yet removed the map. Caraballo described how the building of the map was a tactic straight out of the anti-abortion playbook, which resulted in violent attacks on doctors and abortion providers long before the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June. In the 1990s, a website called the “Nuremberg Files” served as a resource for militant anti-abortion activists, publishing the names and addresses of abortion providers and exposing them to violence.
Dr. Jack Turban, a trans youth mental health researcher, argued online that attacks on trans people amounted to attacks on science itself. “Conservatives going after healthcare and academic medicine is a scary thing. It’s taking anti-science to a whole new dangerous level,” he tweeted. Last year, in a column, he and Jules Gill-Petersen, a historian of medicine, wrote “transgender people are not ‘denying science’ by virtue of existing. On the contrary, the medical and scientific consensus is that being trans and transitioning are healthy, natural manifestations of human diversity.”
But the attacks on trans people and healthcare providers seem only to be rising. “Trans people are being cut off from not only lifesaving care but also routine medical care, therapy, and support groups,” Alejandra Caraballo told me. “This is the goal of anti-trans extremists — to make life unbearable for trans people.”
IN GLOBAL NEWS
Zimbabweans are secretly vaccinating their children in defiance of powerful religious groups. An outbreak of measles was first reported in Zimbabwe in April, and since then 700 children have died, many because they are unvaccinated. Groups within the apostolic church, which has around 2.5 million followers in Zimbabwe, oppose vaccines. Other groups within the church who are more open to modern medicine are seeking to change attitudes, while at the same time helping women to defy church rules. Some of these women are vaccinating their children without their husbands ever knowing, often going to clinics in the middle of the night and sneaking in through the back doors.
The Indonesian government has banned a Dutch orangutan expert from entering the country’s nature reserves for criticizing Indonesia’s conservation policies. Erik Meijaard, who studied orangutans in Indonesia for 30 years, co-wrote an article in The Jakarta Post a couple weeks ago in which he said Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya had painted an unduly rosy picture of the country’s orangutan population — which is actually declining. Meijaard and the four other scientists who co-wrote the article were accused of discrediting the government.
Oh dear. Anti-vaccine activists have now created a new detox program. It’s designed to “clear viral and vaccine-induced spike proteins from the body.” Of course, it is not possible to “detox” from a vaccine, nonetheless videos and posts about how to take post-vaccine detox baths are trending throughout the internet. The most recent “detox program,” advertised by a pseudoscientific website calling itself “the World Council for Health,” recommends that people take herbs, supplements, and ivermectin, the anti-parasitic drug that is hailed as a cultish cure-all by anti-vaccine devotees.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Conspiracy theories like QAnon are destroying families and killing people. But Donald Trump is embracing them with fresh vigor. NBC news tells the tragic story of a young woman whose father shot her sister and murdered her mother after he became obsessed with QAnon during the pandemic.
This newsletter is curated by Coda’s senior reporter Isobel Cockerell. Liam Scott and Frankie Vetch contributed to this edition.