'Fake complaints and other ephemera' force Missouri to shut down transgender 'snitch form': report
Less than a month after the office of Missouri's Republican Attorney General Andrew Baily launched a website for citizens to report suspected instances of transgender residents engaging in "troubling practices," the controversial portal has been shut down due to an inundation of "spam, fake complaints, and other ephemera," Tech Crunch reported on Friday.
Bailey's Press Secretary Madeline Sieren accused "left-wing activists" of sabotaging the online form – which was officially designated as a "tip line" – and kvetched to Tech Crunch that "rather than standing on their supposed science to back up their facts, they're resorting to trying to hack our system to silence victims of the exact network we're attempting to expose. In order to ensure the integrity of a government website, the page is temporarily down while we investigate these matters."
Sieren further claimed that the site fell victim to an unspecified "hack."
READ MORE: 'Poorly disguised interrogatories': Missouri hospital sues AG over intrusive request for trans data
According to Tech Crunch, Bailey offered his own defense of his department's invasive pet project, describing it as a place "for parents to submit concerns about the gender-affirming care their children received from transgender youth centers. He also issued an emergency rule severely restricting access to gender-affirming care."
But Bailey's experiment is an extension of his broader assault on LGBTQI+ rights. Last Thursday, he announced that the Show-Me State's recent ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth that the State Senate's Republican supermajority fervently endorsed will apply to adults.
As St. Louis Public Radio pointed out on Friday, Bailey said that "these are intended to protect all patients and make sure that all patients have access to mental health services, and that all patients understand the experimental nature of the drugs." He stated that he "wanted all patients to have access to the information necessary to make health decisions that can have long-term deleterious health consequences" and that "at the end of the day that started with protecting children."
Moreover, St. Louis Public Radio elucidated, Bailey's edict requires providers to "ensure that any psychiatric symptoms from existing mental health comorbidities of the patient have been treated and resolved," or in other words, "treating these other mental health problems before we raced down the road of administration of experimental drugs."
READ MORE: Missouri Republican defends letting adults marry 12-year-old kids
The attorney general, St. Louis Public Radio noted, declared that "mental health comorbidity is a recognized medical term so that the providers know how to apply those terms. And certainly, they've done this before in other contexts. So this is not groundbreaking in the sense that we're quantifying the need to put some safeguards in place to make sure that patients have access to mental health services and information."
Medical experts condemned Bailey's policies and statements as arcane, prohibitive, and unscientific.
"This could lead to the discontinuation of that care if the health care providers are not able to meet all these new requirements that are both antiquated and not based in science at all," Vivent Health Chief Executive Officer Brandon Hill said. "We've never had to navigate a space in which adults seeking care who are informed of the care and informed of all the possible side effects are now being told that the government has decided to say whether they can actually engage in that care."
Meanwhile, the public backlash was overwhelming.
"Social media users on TikTok, Twitter, and Tumblr ensured that Bailey's office would have plenty of evidence to sift through for the investigation, flooding the site with fake complaints and other ephemera," Tech Crunch explained.
"When the online form first launched, it lacked a CAPTCHA, which savvy Twitter users quickly used to their advantage by using bots to spam the site. Users also employed a generator to churn out fake names and fake Missouri addresses. Others just dumped text into the complaint form, ranging from the entire script of Bee Movie, to Billy Mays' OxiClean sales pitch, to Walter White's introductory monologue in Breaking Bad. TikTok users said they submitted the 'most raunchiest fanfic from AO3' and 'a saucy love story of Mario and Luigi,' Tech Crunch recalled. "Many submitted elaborate anecdotes of woke moms taking their kids 'to the corner gender clinic to get transed' and complaints of too many men getting gender-affirming care via Viagra." Another tip referencing The Crucible joked, 'I saw goody proctor injecting estrogen with the devil.'"
And while "the tip form added a CAPTCHA on Thursday," Tech Crunch wrote, "that alone wasn't enough to deter the trolls. The form was removed from the attorney general's site by Friday morning."
READ MORE: 'Under his eye': Outrage swells over Missouri AG’s transgender 'complaint or concern' online formView Tech Crunch's full article here. St. Louis Public Radio's continues at this link.
- Missouri GOP goes 'a step further than Florida' and proposes 'most extreme Don't Say Gay bill': report ›
- Missouri House Republicans defund public libraries: report ›
- Watch: Openly gay Missouri Republican masterfully stumps anti-LGBTQ bill author ›