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Man charged with threatening doctor caring for trans patients, LGBTQ kids

Dec. 4, 2022 Updated Sun., Dec. 4, 2022 at 8:22 p.m.

Boston Children's Hospital on Aug. 17, 2022, in Boston. Parts of the hospital were evacuated Wednesday morning following yet another bomb threat.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
Boston Children's Hospital on Aug. 17, 2022, in Boston. Parts of the hospital were evacuated Wednesday morning following yet another bomb threat. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Leo Sands Washington Post

A Texas man has been arrested and charged with making a death threat against a physician who cares for gender-nonconforming children, federal prosecutors said, as threats against health care providers who work with LGBTQ youths have risen in recent months.

Matthew Jordan Lindner, 38, who was arrested Friday, is accused of calling the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center in Boston on Aug. 31 and leaving a voice mail that targeted a doctor affiliated with the center, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts said in a statement.

According to the statement, Lindner said in his message that “there’s a group of people on their way to handle” the physician and that “you signed your own warrant.” His message also told the recipient to “sleep well” and said, “You’re all gonna burn.” He accused her of castrating children, according to the statement.

Lindner, of Comfort, Texas, was charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats, and will appear in federal court in Boston at an unspecified date, the statement said. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to five years, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Lindner’s alleged victim was not identified but was described by prosecutors as a physician who cares for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients at the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, which provides educational programs and health care for sexual and gender minorities and is part of the Fenway Institute.

Prosecutors said the alleged threat was made in the same month the Boston Children’s Hospital, which is less than one mile from the center, was targeted in a harassment campaign over the care it was providing for transgender patients. Inaccurate information was spreading online about the procedures it performs, authorities said.

“The words used here do not amount to someone simply expressing their discontent or engaging in a heated debate,” United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said of Lindner in the statement. “Mr. Lindner’s alleged conduct – a death threat – is based on falsehoods and amounts to an act of workplace violence.”

“No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, what kind of work they do, where they are from, or what they believe,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, added in the statement.

The Washington Post was unable to reach Lindner on Sunday morning. The Associated Press reported Saturday that it was unclear whether Lindner is represented by an attorney.

Fenway Health, which operates the Fenway Institute, said it would continue cooperating with law enforcement to combat threats against health-care providers and the families who use their services.

“As the negative rhetoric surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community – and transgender and gender diverse people in particular – continues to escalate, attacks on medical professionals who provide gender affirming health care are on the rise,” a spokesman for the organization said in a statement to The Post. “We are grateful for the quick action of law enforcement in helping to put a stop to the hate-fueled threats and harassment directed at this doctor.”

Lindner’s case is one of the more extreme examples of a long-running harassment campaign against medical providers who work with transgender children and adolescents, which escalated in August.

On Aug. 30, one day before Lindner’s alleged threat, Boston Children’s Hospital – the first in the nation to establish its own pediatric and adolescent transgender health program – was forced by authorities to lock down after it received an anonymous bomb threat, which turned out to be fake. A 37-year-old woman from Westfield, Mass., was later arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the hoax. According to the FBI, the call was among dozens of hoax threats received by Boston Children’s Hospital in recent months.

The hospital said its employees were harassed after conservative influencers targeted them in false and misleading social media posts, directing much of their vitriol at the hospital’s Gender Multispecialty Service program. The program specializes in caring for young people with gender dysphoria, the condition in which a person’s gender does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Leading medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, support providing gender-affirming care for young people experiencing gender dysphoria.

Transgender medical treatment – particularly for younger people – has become a contentious issue for conservative activists and politicians, who in recent months have intensified their criticism of gender-affirming surgery and therapy, and have sought to curtail access to such services.

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