Akron Children’s Hospital is the latest target of right-leaning social media accounts nationwide targeting children’s hospitals that offer gender-affirming care.
Last month, Boston Children’s Hospital, which hosts the first transgender health program for children and adolescents in the United States, became the number one target for far-right social media accounts, news outlets and bloggers.
Last week, federal authorities arrested and charged a Massachusetts woman accused of reporting a fake bomb threat at Boston Children’s Hospital, where doctors and staff faced harassment and threats of violence over her pediatric and teen transgender health program.
Gender-affirming medicine is an evolving field that involves consulting medical and social work professionals to care for transgender patients seeking characteristics that are more consistent with their gender identity. It may include services such as puberty suppression, hormone treatment, mental health care coordination, well screening and preventive visits, education and supportive care for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.
More:Teens get help with identity struggles at Akron Children’s Clinic
Other children’s hospitals across the country, including in Phoenix and Philadelphia, have also become targets of the campaign.
Akron Children’s Hospital, which has a center for Gender Affirming Medicine, was targeted this week.
Ohio State Assemblyman Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, took to Twitter to defend the Akron-based hospital.
“For the past week @libsoftiktok and a group of anonymous trolls led a social TERROR campaign against @AkronChildrens, a world-class facility where thousands of my constituents (including my children) are patients/employees,” Weinstein wrote in a tweet on Am Wednesday.
“Now listen to me – stay the fuck away from our kids,” he tweeted.
What is the Center for Gender Affirming Medicine?
Akron Children’s Hospital opened its Center for Gender Affirming Medicine in the summer of 2019. Clinic officials said they are dedicated to supporting youth struggling with gender identity issues.
Patients at the clinic see a multidisciplinary team that includes gender-affirming medical providers, as well as a social worker, nurse coordinator, psychotherapist, and endocrinologist. The center sees patients aged 7 or older.
Sex reassignment surgeries aren’t available at Akron Children’s Hospital, and the team is waiting to provide medications — such as hormone treatments or drugs to suppress puberty — until the teen has been fully evaluated, doctors said.
Transgender youth are at higher risk of suicide and homelessness, Akron Children’s doctors said. Forty-one percent of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
“I just want to live my life”:Trans youth, others condemn gender-affirming childcare bans
Rep. Casey Weinstein declares his support for the hospital
In a phone interview Thursday, Weinstein said he had “anonymous trolls” on his Twitter page and that he noticed they were following Akron Children’s Hospital.
“They alleged that Akron Children’s performs castration and mutilation on very young children, which to my knowledge is not the case,” Weinstein said.
He said the hospital’s clinic helps care for patients and reduces the risk of suicide.
Weinstein said he’s following what happened at Boston Children’s Hospital last week and he’s taking care of Akron Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a bit outside of my county, but my kids are patients there and a lot of my friends work there and a lot of my constituents get treatment there. This place is important to me,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein said he felt he had to speak up for the local hospital.
“I’m worried and I want (Akron Children’s) to know that I stand behind them and I want people to know that we need to stand up and defend our beloved world-class Akron Children’s Hospital,” he said. “I’ll take some of the heat, that’s fine. Bring it to me, not our Akron Children’s Hospital. Not our doctors and nurses and caregivers and children.”
Weinstein said he heard from a staffer at Boston Children’s Hospital “thanking me, fearing for her life because of what’s going on here.”
Local, national health response
Akron Children’s Hospital released a statement Thursday in response to questions from Beacon Journal about the social media attacks.
“Akron Children’s Hospital will not turn away a child seeking help. This has been a core promise since our founding in 1890 and includes the patients at our center for gender-affirming medicine. We strongly believe that young people have access to gender-affirming health programs should be based on research and standards of care We proudly stand behind the work of our program and our providers.
“It’s made such a difference in my life”:Clinics, employers committed to gender-affirming care
“Over the past few days, the Akron Children’s Program has become the focus of some online chats filled with misinformation about our care. We condemn all forms of harassment, Intimidation and the intentional dissemination of misinformation. We remain committed to providing a safe, inclusive and welcoming place for all patients, families and staff.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also released a statement to the Beacon Journal regarding the social media attacks on Akron Children’s and other children’s hospitals across the country:
“These attacks on doctors and children’s hospitals that provide healthcare are disruptive, dangerous and threaten the health and safety of all who seek care and work in these facilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics stands with physicians, nurses, mental health specialists and other health professionals who provide evidence-based, gender-sensitive health care to children and adolescents,” said Mark Del Monte, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics.