Texas man pleads guilty to making death threat against doctor who treats trans youth

A Texas man has pleaded guilty to threatening to kill a Boston physician who specializes in treating transgender youth.

Matthew Lindner, 39, had previously pleaded not guilty, but at a federal court hearing Wednesday, he changed his plea to guilty on one count of interstate transmission of threatening communication, according to court records and a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts.

Lindner is among a handful of people who have been charged in connection with violent threats in recent years against gender clinics and doctors who treat LGBTQ patients. Threats and other harassment against Boston doctors spiked after right-wing groups launched a social media campaign against providing gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary youth.

Some of the information that spread online was inaccurate, federal prosecutors said in their statement Wednesday.

Prosecutors said that on Aug. 31, 2022, as “inaccurate information spread online” about medical procedures at Boston Children’s Hospital, Lindner called a different organization, the Boston-based National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, and left a threatening voicemail for one of the center’s affiliated doctors, warning “you’re all gonna burn.”

He also said in the voicemail that “there’s a group of people on their way to handle” the victim and “you signed your own warrant, lady,” according to prosecutors.

After the call, Lindner then phoned the physician’s former medical practice and a university where the physician was a faculty member, prosecutors said.

Lindner, who lives in Comfort, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 6. He faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, prosecutors said, but in a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend a three-month prison sentence to the court.

Joshua Levy, the acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said in a statement that the threat Lindner made “is deplorable and sends a chill through the medical community.”

“Doctors who serve pediatric patients, including the victim in this case and staff at Boston Children’s Hospital, have dedicated their professional lives to treating children,” he said.

“They should be celebrated for their contributions to so many in their time of need. Instead, this defendant threatened a doctor with violence just for doing her job,” he added.

Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said in a statement, “There is no way to undo the damage Matthew Lindner did to this physician, with his hateful, repulsive, and threatening behavior.”

Attorneys for Lindner did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

Boston federal prosecutors charged a separate person, Catherine Leavy of Massachusetts, with calling in a fake bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital. Leavy pleaded guilty in September and is scheduled to be sentenced March 19.