By Amanda Musa and Christina Maxouris, CNN
The FBI on Friday arrested a Texas man who allegedly called and threatened a Boston doctor who was providing care to transgender individuals, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a news release.
Matthew Jordan Lindner, 38, has been charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats and is scheduled to appear at a federal court in Boston at “a later date,” the release said. He is being held without bail, The New York Times reported.
CNN has reached out to Lindner’s attorney for comment.
According to a criminal complaint, false information began spreading on social media in August alleging that health care providers at the Boston Children’s Hospital were performing hysterectomies and gender affirmation surgeries on patients younger than 18. Hospital personnel have said that was not true and that hysterectomies and gender affirming surgeries were not performed on patients under 18, according to the complaint.
The hospital, which calls itself “home to the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States,” said in August that it faced numerous violent threats for offering that kind of care, adding its staff and clinicians have been harassed by phone, email and social media. The threats picked up after the misinformation started spreading, CNN has previously reported.
On August 31, the Fenway Institute’s National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, also in Boston, received a voicemail from a person who threatened to injure and kill a physician at the center who specializes in sexual health issues and is an “advocate for gender-affirming care,” according to the complaint.
In the voicemail, the caller threatened that there was a “group of people on their way to handle (the doctor)” and that the physician had signed their own “warrant,” according to a transcription in the complaint.
Investigators determined that Lindner was the one who made the threatening call and that he has a license for firearms, according to the complaint. The document does not specify why he allegedly targeted the health education center and how the threats were related to the online falsehoods.
The health education center “provides educational programs, resources, and consultation to health care organizations with the goal of optimizing quality, cost-effective health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and all sexual and gender minority (LGBTQIA+) people,” according to its website.
The case comes amid heightened violence and threats against LGBTQ communities. Last year was the deadliest on record for the transgender community and a record-breaking number of anti-transgender legislation was introduced across the country.
In November, a 22-year-old shooter entered an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and killed at least five people and injured more than two dozen others.
In a statement about the Lindner case on Friday, US Attorney for Massachusetts Rachael S. Rollins said that “although the Doctor is clearly a victim, Mr. Lindner’s threat is rooted in a hatred of the LGBTQIA+ community and the families, friends and people that love and support them. They are victims too.”
“There used to be a respite and safe haven from harm or attack in our schools, churches, hospitals and courthouses. We used to extend that decency and respect to even our fiercest adversaries. Sadly, those days appear to be gone,” Rollins said, adding the charges show authorities and prosecutors will “scour the country to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in Massachusetts.”
If convicted, Lindner faces up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
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