Libs of TikTok promises to continue targeting hospitals

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By John Knefel | WASHINGTON — Far-right media workers have spent more than a week encouraging their audience to harass health workers at Boston Children’s Hospital for caring for transgender youth, prompting fears the disinformation campaign could lead to acts of violence. After reports of death threats against hospital workers surfaced, some were on the right have broadened their focus to other children’s hospitals.

On Thursday night, Fox News star Tucker Carlson devoted two segments to the topic, interviewing far-right MP Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and anti-LGBTQ activist Chris Elston, better known by the nickname Billboard Chris. Carlson repeatedly falsely described the provision of gender-affirming care as “child mutilation” before asking Elston to elaborate.

“We have the biggest child abuse scandal in the history of modern medicine,” Elston said.

“I don’t think there’s a debate about whether we – which doctors should be allowed to mutilate children,” Carlson replied.

Elston and Carlson are both completely wrong here. Numerous studies show that access to gender-affirming care is associated with improved mental health outcomes, while denial of access is associated with increased rates of suicidality and depression. And while much of that care is non-surgical, experts have found that those who undergo surgery feel very little regret.

Carlson added that “we can debate the trans issue,” channeling the anti-Semitic phrase “the Jewish question,” long used by Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Dated August 18, 2022, Tucker Carlson Tonight of Fox News

Carlson also played up the concept of “Stochastic Terrorism‘, a term used to describe a process by which pervasive violent rhetoric creates conditions that can lead to violent acts by individuals. The idea describes an environment where each individual act of violence is unpredictable, but the likelihood of some type of violence becomes much greater.

In his introduction, Carlson praised Libs of TikTok, an anti-LGBTQ extremist social media influencer account run by Chaya Raichik that has fueled much of the anti-LGBTQ harassment on Twitter and Facebook. On August 11, Raichik shared a video falsely claiming that Boston Children’s Hospital performs hysterectomies and genital surgeries on minors. Facebook reportedly suspended Libs of TikTok on August 17, but the site has since resumed posting content targeting children’s hospitals. Twitter hasn’t done anything about it yet.

Earlier this year, Libs of TikTok repeatedly suggested that drag events would inappropriately expose children to sexual content. In several instances, those posts were followed by members of the far-right Proud Boys gang, who showed up to disrupt the event.

Since Raichik’s post about Boston Children’s Hospital, numerous figures and right-wing figures have joined the effort.

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, one of the right’s fiercest anti-LGBTQ pundits, announced that he organized a campaign of intimidation against hospitals that treat transgender youth in a gender-affirming manner.

Walsh addressed the issue days later on his show, accusing Boston Children’s of lying about the threats they received and dismissing its connection to stochastic terrorism.

“When they claim that threats are coming in — that they’re being threatened — you can never take that claim at face value,” Walsh said. “Of course they’re not above lying, and besides, we know what they mean by a threat.”

“What was the word of the day we learned yesterday? It was, uh, sto – sto – stochastic terrorism, that’s it,” Walsh continued. “So we already know that any criticism is an act of terrorism.”

As of the August 17, 2022 edition of The Matt Walsh Show

Ben Shapiro took the same approach as Carlson and Walsh. Referring to the media writ large, Shapiro said: “If you realize that gender-affirming nursing is a terrible euphemism for torturing children – if you realize that – then it means that you are involved in what they do.” call it ‘stochastic terrorism’.”

“No one should be surprised at what Boston Children’s Hospital is doing, mutilating children,” Shapiro said. “No one should ask questions about this. That makes you practically like a terrorist.”

Several other right-wing figures labeled the vendors as demons or Nazis.

  • Conservative talk radio host Jesse Kelly said a caregiver at Boston Children’s Hospital is “a demon, a child-abusing demon who thinks because a little boy picks up a Barbie doll, now he’s someone who should be made to eventually be cut off his penis.”
  • Fox News’ failing rival, One America News, repeatedly peddled disinformation on the subject, including a segment in which a guest compared the gender-affirming care of Nazi gas chambers.
  • BlazeTV host Steve Deace also invoked the Nazis when describing the hospital’s practice. “This is Fourth Reich stuff,” Deace said on his podcast. He also said what providers do is “like demonic possession” and that caring for children is the moral equivalent of slavery and segregation, arguing that providers “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.
  • Seth Dillon, CEO of conservative humor website Babylon Bee, tweeted The care provided by Boston Children’s Hospital was “as wicked as mad”.

Conservative digital media and experts have also taken up the campaign. The far-right website The Federalist accused the hospital of “encouraging the mutilation of healthy children”. Nationalist conservative and Viktor Orban apologist Rod Dreher wrote a typically off-balance post arguing that now is the time for “moral panic”.

The list goes on.

Michael Knowles from The Daily Wire, tweeted via a gender-affirming provider at another hospital in an apparent attempt to draw her into the broader campaign of harassment.

“I would probably call it the Gender Mutilation Service at Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Christian fundamentalist influencer Allie Beth Stuckey.

Coming August 16, 2022, issue of Blaze TV’s Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey

Conservative talk show host Dennis Prager said the hospital’s work shows that “Boston is a sick city. Really, really sick.”

The risks to the LGBTQ community and those who stand with them, including healthcare providers, are difficult to overestimate. Anti-trans activists have been harassing trans people, drag queens and others in LGBTQ communities for months. Fascist street gangs followed the call. Celebrity trans YouTuber Clara Sorrenti, known online as Keffals, has been and is repeatedly “beaten up” by anti-trans activists for now In the hiding place. Specifically, trans people are more than four times more likely to be victims of violent crime than non-trans people, according to a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute.

These are the predicted and intended results of the targeted campaign against Boston Children’s Hospital and other transinclusive providers. Conservative pundits make such acts of violence more likely, a fact they know all too well, which is why they are so desperate to deny it.

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John Knefel is a Senior Writer and a member of the Rapid Response team at Media Matters. Follow him on Twitter @mmfa or @johnknefel

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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