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Editor’s note: This story contains graphic language.
A Texas man was arrested Friday on a federal charge that he left a threatening voicemail message for one Boston doctor who provides care to transgender people, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts.
The man, Matthew Jordan Lindner, 38, of the Hill Country town of Comfort, was charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats. Comfort is in Kendall County, about 50 miles northwest of San Antonio.
Lindner, whose company Lindner Ammo was a federal firearms licensee in 2019, is accused of leaving a voicemail message on Aug. 31 threatening to kill the doctor, who works at the Boston-based National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center.
An FBI agent stated in an affidavit that after the phone call to the Boston doctor, Lindner called two other phone numbers assigned to a Rhode Island university where the doctor is a faculty member. The calls were made from his company’s number, according to AT&T phone records cited by federal investigators.
Lindner was arrested Friday morning and made an initial appearance in the Western District of Texas. He is being held without bail, according to The New York Times. He will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
In the recorded message to the Boston doctor, Lindner said, “You’re all gonna burn,” according to prosecutors. He mentioned “a group of people on their way to handle” the doctor and said, “You signed your own warrant.” Lindner named the doctor in the voicemail and ended the message by saying, “You’ve woken up enough people. And upset enough of us. And you signed your own ticket.”
That call lasted 41 seconds, the affidavit says.
Prosecutors did not publicly share the name of the doctor who received the threat. Lindner did not respond to calls or text messages from The Texas Tribune. His lawyer declined to comment.
The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, which is part of the Fenway Institute, provides educational programs and health care for the queer and transgender people. The center does not offer clinical care or referrals, according to its website. The Tribune has reached out to the center for comment, but the organization did not immediately respond.
Hospitals and doctors across the country have received death threats over the health care they offer transgender children.
Leading health care organizations in Texas say gender-affirming care is the best way to provide care for gender dysphoria, which is the distress someone can feel when their assigned sex doesn’t align with their gender identity. It includes medical, social and psychological support to help a person understand and appreciate their gender identity. Providers often work with counselors and family members to ensure patients have everything they need to navigate the health care system.
According to federal prosecutors, false information began to spread online in August that Boston Children’s Hospital doctors were performing hysterectomies on children. They became the target of a harassment campaign based on misinformation from conservative social media accounts about the hospital’s transgender surgery program. Hospital staff told WBUR, the public radio station in Boston, at that time that they had received aggressive calls, emails and death threats for some providers.
Hospital staff have said doctors do not perform hysterectomies or gender-affirming surgery on patients under the age of 18, the affidavit says. Lindner’s call to the Boston doctor followed these threats.
“Mr. Lindner’s alleged conduct — a death threat — is based on falsehoods and amounts to an act of workplace violence,” said Rachael S. Rollins, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, in a press release. “The victim, a Doctor caring for gender nonconforming and transgender patients, should be able to engage in this meaningful and necessary work without fear of physical harm or death.”
The U.S. Department of Justice said it has pledged to protect the rights of gender-nonconforming and transgender people, as well as the health care providers who render care and support.
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Boston Division, said in a statement that the doctor had been targeted because she was caring for gender-nonconforming children.
“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,” he said.
Disclosure: AT&T and The New York Times have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.