A Texas man who authorities say threatened a Boston doctor providing care to transgender people was arrested Friday on federal charges.
The suspect, identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as 38-year-old Matthew Jordan Lindner of Humble, Texas, was charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats. He made his first appearance in a Texas courtroom Friday afternoon, and is expected to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.
Lindner allegedly harassed and threatened to kill a female physician at the Boston-based National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, targeting her specifically of her work caring for gender non-conforming children, according to a statement from Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division.
Charging documents allege that on Aug. 31, Lindner called the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center after misinformation spread online about procedures at Boston Children’s Hospital. Lindner left a violent message targeting one of the center’s affiliated doctors, the Justice Department said.
Lindner allegedly said “a group of people” were “on their way to handle” the unidentified victim, said the victim would “burn,” and said that the victim and others in their field had “upset enough of us” and “signed (their) own ticket,” federal prosecutors said. The message also included a gender-based slur and accused the victim of “castrating” children.
The charge against Linder carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
“While everyone has a right to express their opinion, they don’t have a right to use or threaten violence against individuals who do not share their same set of beliefs,” Bonavolonta said. “No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, what kind of work they do, where they are from, or what they believe. This case is unfortunately one of many others that illustrates FBI Boston’s commitment to thwarting potential violent incidents motivated by hate and bias and holding the individuals behind them accountable.”
This is not the first time that misinformation related to Boston Children’s Hospital has resulted in threats. In September, Catherine Leavy, of Westfield, Massachusetts, was taken into custody on allegations she had called in a false bomb threat against the hospital on Aug. 30, just one day before Lindner allegedly made his phone call.
At the time, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said that Boston Children’s Hospital had been the subject of about a dozen similar threats. In October, three major medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate and prosecute similar threats.
Several dozen House Democrats signed onto a letter sent to Garland on Nov. 18 requesting that the DOJ outline steps it is taking to counter anti-transgender threats made against health care providers.
In the news release announcing Linder’s arrest, Rollins on Friday said that the Justice Department “has pledged to protect the rights of the gender nonconforming and transgendered community, which includes the health care providers who render care and support.”
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