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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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(Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison)

Twitter threats made against UW Health gender services

Threats against UW Health came after a nine-tweet thread was shared about “gender services for minors” available at the hospital in late September. 

The tweets were published online under username “Libs of TikTok.” The Twitter profile, which has 1.3 million followers, has a history of using its large platform to target the LGBTQ+ community, especially regarding gender-based medical care. The page also has over 895,000 followers on the right-wing Truth Social, along with thousands of paid Substack subscribers. 

Started in 2021 by former real estate agent Chaya Raichik, the account quickly came under fire for its controversial tweets, along with the inclusion of identifying information — allowing Twitter users to target individuals and organizations mentioned in the tweets. Such tactics resulted in escalating threats, including bomb threats against named hospitals. The “Libs of TikTok” account has gone through multiple suspensions, most recently a seven day ban in late September. 

Comments on the original Twitter thread were negative, with some insulting the gender-based services by calling them “woke” and questioning the specific doctor performing the surgeries. 

The Madison Police Department quickly began investigating the post after it gained national media attention. According to a report by Channel 3000 News, the investigation found all activity was first amendment protected and led to no direct security threats, only exterior photos of the buildings.

Included in the tweets were screenshots of the UW Health website, with highlights showing gender-based care is available to minors. Although it is true that many gender-based services are available to minors, the post did not highlight that parental consent is required for these procedures and medications.

“The use of puberty blockers as well [as] all other gender services care for minors requires parental consent,” UW Health explained in a statement to the Daily Cardinal. 

The “Libs of TikTok” account later posted a follow-up to the original thread, noting UW Health “scrubbed their entire website” of gender-based services. Although UW Health did not comment on this tweet, the page, describing care to “help transgender, gender expansive and nonbinary adults and children,” appears to remain up and visible. 

Ultimately, the health system is standing by the gender-based services mentioned in the tweets.

“We have not made any changes to our gender services program and standard appointments and operations continue,” said UW Health. “UW Health fully supports our patients who identify as LGBTQ+ and our expert clinicians and staff who provide patient-centered and evidence-based gender services care.”

UW Health and Madison police are dealing with any security concerns stemming from the thread.

“The health system takes situations like this very seriously and is working closely with local law enforcement to monitor for the safety and security of our patients, providers and staff,” said UW Health.

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