Two of the largest plastic surgery societies in America issued an alarming safety advisory to surgeons last Friday.
The societies want members to be aware of a “growing and disturbing trend” wherein some plastic surgeons have received “threats of violence” from persons who object to the types of surgeries they perform or the research they conduct.
Active-shooter scenarios and physical harm are discussed in the advisory.
Also noted in it, the threats of violence can include “aggression that doesn’t involve physical contact,” such as as bullying and humiliation.
The two societies—ASPS and The Aesthetic Society—suggest that surgeons consider strengthening their security protocol.
Presidents Dr. J. Peter Rubin, MD, and Dr. Jennifer L. Walden, MD, encourage plastic surgeons to consider:
- Staying vigilant.
- Always having an exit plan.
- Learning self-defense tactics.
- Using video monitoring in their practice.
- Installing “panic buttons” in their practice.
- Changing their social media profile names.
- Notifying local law enforcement if threats are received.
- Changing their social media profile settings to “private.”
- Parking in well-lit areas, and getting escorted to their cars.
- Being wary of revealing their location in public photographs.
- Maintaining strong relationships with local law enforcement and property management.
- Holding mock drills one or more times per year on dealing with an unruly or violent intruder.
No distinction was made as to which, if any, plastic surgeons are at a higher risk of receiving threats than others.
Surgical Times reached out to the societies via email Tuesday but has yet to hear back.
Given the timing and unprecedented nature of the advisory, it may well relate only to surgeons performing gender-affirmation procedures, particularly on minors.
The advisory comes 18 days after a New York Times article on the rise of teenage transgender surgery.
Gender-affirmation surgeon Sidhbh (pronounced “Sive”) Gallagher, whose work the article focuses on, told the Times she’d received threats online, and may higher security guards for her practice
Gallagher’s “unusual embrace” of TikTok has made her one of the most visible such surgeons in the country, the Times says.
On September 2nd, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon shared a portion of one of Gallagher’s social media posts, replacing her caption with his own: “A doctor poses for a picture with the child she just mutilated.”
Commenting on coverage of this event by The Daily Wire, a plastic surgeon, going by the handle “FreedomFirst,” says that “ethical surgeons do not agree with any of this transitional surgery.”
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, he says, lacks the courage to “come out against” the procedures due to the potential backlash.
In a series of Tweets in late September, author Matt Walsh brought focus to the financial incentives involved in the surgeries, and the ethical aspects of performing them on children as young as 13.
Walsh previously shared that threats had been made against his life following the June release of What Is a Woman?, a documentary on transgender issues, for which Walsh was presenter.
Days prior to the safety advisory, on October 11th, CBS News reported that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had increased its security following threats aimed at its transgender clinic.
That same day, Align Surgical, a San Francisco-based gender reassignment practice, was among those chastised by parents for “sponsoring a ‘family-friendly’ drag show” for minor children.
Wow: trans surgical center Align Surgical Associates is a financial sponsor of a “family friendly” drag show for small children?! https://t.co/AaUdyxyG0W— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) September 21, 2022
Threats against surgeons who perform the more classic repertoire of cosmetic procedures are extremely rare but not unheard of.
The Societies say they hope surgeons never need to implement the safety strategies, but that it’s important for them to know how to protect staff and patients should a threat materialize.