Children’s National Hospital: Libs of TiKTok recording of trans hysterectomies sparks threats

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Children’s National Hospital has been inundated with threatening emails and phone calls after an influential right-wing Twitter account posted a recording that falsely suggested the hospital was performing hysterectomies on transgender children, a hospital spokeswoman said. The torrent of harassment was accompanied by social media posts suggesting Children’s being bombed and its doctors placed in a shredder.

The recording, made by the founder of Libs of TikTok Chaya Raichik, includes two telephone operators in famous DC medical facility stating – in response to Raichik questions – that a 16-year-old trans boy would be eligible for a hysterectomy at the hospital’s Gender Development Clinic. Children’s did not dispute the authenticity of the recording, but said employees provided inaccurate information.

“None of the people secretly registered by this activist group are providing care to our patients, hospital spokeswoman Ariana Ahmadi Perez said. “We do not and have never performed gender-affirming hysterectomies for anyone under the age of 18.”

Such statements did not dispel the furor sparked by Raichik’s Thursday message. Right-wing media, including Fox News and the Daily Caller, ran stories based on the misinformation provided in the phone conversations. A captioned video of the recording had been viewed more than 800,000 times on Twitter by Friday night.

In response to a request for comment for this story, Raichik agreed to an interview, on the condition that she be allowed to record it. This story will be updated to include his comments once this interview has taken place.

Children’s scrutiny comes just weeks after Libs of TikTok also targeted Boston Children’s Hospital for its care of transgender people. In this case, the account highlighted a hospital-produced video discussing “gender-affirming hysterectomies.”

Libs of TikTok claimed the surgery was performed on “young girls,” although Boston Children officials said the procedure was not available for those under 18. Despite its name, the Boston hospital, like the Children’s National in DC, treats patients well into adulthood. Boston Children’s officials also said their vendors faced threats and harassment after Libs of TikTok drew attention to their programs.

FAQ: What you need to know about transgender children

The outcry over transgender care in children’s hospitals comes as lawmakers in many states seek to restrict LGBTQ rights in classrooms and on sports fields. From Florida to Kentucky, conservatives are seeking to limit gender discussion in schools and ban trans athletes from participating in youth sports, with many on the right making baseless claims that gay and trans educators seek to ‘groom’ and sexually abusing children. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has asked the state Department of Welfare and Family Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care to their transgender children. This order is being challenged in court.

Hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes, sometimes accompanied by the removal of the ovaries – can be done in addition to mastectomy (often called advanced surgery by doctors transgender and advocacy groups) for people in transition. But the procedure is almost never offered to children, experts said, and the current standards of care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health states that surgery should not be performed on minors.

Dr. Loren Schechter, director of gender-affirming surgery at Rush University Chicago and a member of the association’s executive committee, said he could recall only one gender-affirming hysterectomy. on a minor in 23 years of practice. In this case, he said, the patient was a 17-year-old who had already been undergoing treatment for years and had been repeatedly advised by doctors to delay surgery.

“These are considered decisions, and these are complex decisions,” Schechter said. “The idea of ​​people being pushed or rushed into surgery is just ridiculous.”

Still, Children’s National officials admit that some information released by the hospital has increased public confusion. Prior to Thursday, the hospital’s website incorrectly stated that gender-affirming hysterectomy was available for patients “between the ages of 0 and 21,” an error that has been corrected, Perez said.

And in Raichik’s recording, two hospital workers answering the phone state in no uncertain terms that an underage patient could undergo a gender-affirming hysterectomy.

“It depends. Every department is different. Some departments are cut off at 6 p.m.,” a phone operator said in response to Raichik’s question about a minor’s eligibility for the operation. “How old is your patient?” »

“Sixteen,” Raichik said.

“Okay,” replies the operator. “Alright. So they’re in the clear.

After confirming with a second person over the phone that a 16-year-old would be eligible for a gender-affirming hysterectomy, Raichik asks if this is “a common procedure you do for that age.”

“Yeah, we all have different kinds of age brackets that come into play for that,” the hospital worker replies.

“For the hysterectomy?” Raichik asks.

“Yes ma’am,” the employee said, later adding that she had “seen younger children, younger than your child’s age” undergoing the operation.

On Thursday evening, the hospital’s website temporarily went down. Officials said they were investigating what went wrong and it was not yet clear if the outage was related to the gender care fury.

Raichik – a former real estate salesman who operated under various online aliases – has amassed 1.3 million followers with posts that have hungrily fueled the country’s culture wars, with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. Its previous targets have included schools and Pride events, said Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters of America.

The new focus on children’s hospitals is particularly concerning, Drennen said, leading to the potential for violence and harassment against families seeking medical care.

“I think most people should be able to agree that healthcare decisions aren’t best made by angry mobs on the internet,” Drennen said.

clarification

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Raichik did not respond to a request for comment. The Post was unaware that she responded via Twitter message before the story was published.

Taylor Lorenz contributed to this report.

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