PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is increasing its security following threats aimed at its transgender clinic. It's happened at pediatric facilities around the United States, and now, a group of medical organizations is calling on the Department of Justice to launch an investigation.
Medical organizations say anti-transgender rhetoric has crossed the line, leading to threats of violence. Experts say it's putting doctors and people in the trans community in danger.
"I started going to the CHOP gender clinic in 2018. I had come out and known that I was trans since I was like 12," student Connor Heinrich said.
Heinrich is now a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, feeling like the person he was always meant to be.
"I found a very loving community and I don't feel like I was born in the wrong body anymore," Heinrich said.
He says his gender-affirming therapy at CHOP was long and difficult, but necessary.
"Everyone at every step of the way really took the time to make sure that I was happy with my choices and that I was making choices for myself," he said.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is among several pediatric hospitals with transgender centers that have been threatened by conservative groups that call the treatments unethical and prey on vulnerable children.
"It makes me really sad," Heinrich said. "People that are coming from the viewpoint that it's like mutilation, I think that they really just don't understand because it's really nothing like that."
Regarding the threats, CHOP says, "We have taken a series of security and other measures both to ensure the safety of our staff and to safeguard the resources our patients and families need for quality care."
Children's Hospital Association, along with several other medical organizations, are urging the Department of Justice to investigate the increasing threats of violence.
"I think it's horrible," Dr. Sherman Leis, with the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, said.
Leis is a world-renowned transgender plastic surgeon. He's headquartered in Bala Cynwyd and is outraged by the threats.
He says the research is clear about the benefits of carefully considered transgender treatments.
"I don't have one patient, not one who regrets they did it," Leis said.
He says gender-affirming treatments that can include intense psychological counseling and sometimes hormonal therapy and surgery take years.
"It's a great benefit to people it improves their quality of life, it saves lives, it severely reduces the incidence of depression crippling anxiety," Leis said.
Heinrich, who wants to eventually be involved with LGBTQ+ medicine, says it was clearly the right decision for him.
"As difficult as it was I don't think I would have wanted it to be any different," Heinrich said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice acknowledged receiving the letter calling for an investigation but says there will be no additional comment at this time.
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