After threats at Boston Children’s Hospital, pediatric groups stand up for gender-affirming care

Staff at Boston Children’s Hospital have been harassed. The American Academy of Pediatrics and others condemned the attacks and intimidation.

The harassment and threats aimed at Boston Children’s Hospital for providing gender-affirming care have drawn outrage from health advocates across the nation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics denounced the threats targeting providers offering gender-affirming care. The academy, and its Massachusetts chapter, issued a statement late last week after reports of threats and disinformation aimed at the hospital.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and its Massachusetts Chapter condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing harassment campaign targeting Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and any of our members who provide evidence-based gender-affirming care at medical institutions across the state,” the statement reads.

“These pediatric professionals, like all our members, have only one agenda: providing the best possible care for children and teens.”

The Federation of Pediatric Organizations issued a statement of support for transgender youth and healthcare providers aiming to help them.

“Transgender and gender diverse children and youth deserve to lead safe, healthy lives in environments that allow them to be their authentic selves,” the federation said. “That can only happen if physicians are allowed to treat these children in the same manner, and with the same respect, that we expect them to treat every other child.”

Boston Children’s said some providers have received death threats, along with other harassing emails, WBUR, NPR’s Boston news station, reported.

“We are deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community,” the hospital said in a statement, according to WBUR’s report. “We are working with law enforcement to protect our clinicians, staff, patients, families, and the broader Boston Children’s community and hold the offenders accountable.”

Rachael Rollins, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, issued a statement saying that the Department of Justice “will ensure equal protection of transgender people under the law.”

“Children deserve an opportunity to thrive and grow as their own authentic selves,” Rollins said. “Parents/guardians and health care providers who support them in that journey should be allowed to do so free of threats and harassment.” She added, “While free speech is indeed the cornerstone of our great nation, fear, intimidation and threats are not.”

Boston police are also investigating the threats, WBUR reported.

Boston Children’s sent a message to employees offering guidance in dealing with harassment and threats, which have surged in recent days, NBC News reported.

Those espousing anti-LGBTQ views have produced viral and misleading posts on social media, saying the hospital performs hysterectomies to children and teens under 18 years of age.

Boston Children’s opened the Gender Multispecialty Service in 2007, billing it as “the first major program in the U.S. to focus on gender-diverse and transgender adolescents.” The hospital offers “individualized, safe, and affirmative care to gender-diverse and transgender individuals and their families,” according to its website.

The hospital also operates the Center for Gender Surgery. The center offers gender-affirming services for adolescents and young adults. But the hospital website states, “All genital surgeries are only performed on patients age 18 and older.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says gender-affirming care fills a vital need.

“Gender-affirming care is crucial – and often lifesaving – to young people who need it. Contrary to the disinformation being spread online, such care is conducted in an age-appropriate manner in consultation with families and multiple specialists. Gender-affirming care is evidence-based and is supported by every mainstream medical organization,” the AAP said in the statement.

“The AAP and MCAAP will continue to stand by the dedicated professionals at Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and other pediatric institutions across the state – as well as all the young people in their care.”

The American Medical Association sent a letter to the nation’s governors last year urging them to reject legislation that would bar medically necessary gender transition-related care for minor patients. The AMA said such laws represent “a dangerous governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine and will be detrimental to the health of transgender children across the country.”

“We believe it is inappropriate and harmful for any state to legislatively dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate and limit the range of options physicians and families may consider when making decisions for pediatric patients,” the AMA said in the letter.

Families and physicians should be able to decide on the best course of care, the AMA said.