A Missouri government advice site for filing complaints and concerns about gender-affirming care is down after people deluged it with fanfiction, rambling anecdotes and the “Bee Movie” script.
Missouri Attorney General’s Office thrown out an online form for “Transgender Center Concerns” in late March, inviting those who have witnessed “concerning practices” at clinics providing gender-affirming care to submit suggestions. The site did not ask users to name patients or health care providers, but encouraged users to fill out the form “in as much detail as possible.”
But after days of TikTok and Twitter users spamming the site with gibberish, the tip line has been removed entirely from the Missouri government site. Instead of the online form, the link to the suggestion line now says that the page no longer exists.
Madeline Sieren, press secretary for Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, blamed “far-left activists” for breaking the site. She said the information line is temporarily down.
“Instead of relying on their so-called science to back up their facts, they are resorting to trying to hack into our system to silence the victims of the exact network we are trying to expose,” Sieren told TechCrunch in an email. “To ensure the integrity of a government website, the page is temporarily down while we investigate these matters.”
Sieren did not clarify what the “hacking” consisted of.
Bailey said her office has set up an information line for parents to raise concerns about the gender-affirming care their children received from centers for transgender youth. She also issued an emergency rule severely restricting access to gender-affirming care.
PROMO, a Missouri LGBTQ advocacy organization, said Bailey “fanned the flames of hate” by issuing the emergency rule.
“The Attorney General’s claims are maliciously selected and from unverified sources allowing him to promulgate disgusting, obstructive and misleading information in an emergency rule,” PROMO said in a statement. statement. “It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the real threat to Missourians is the attorney general himself.”
Social media users on TikTok, Twitter and Tumblr made sure Bailey’s office would have plenty of evidence to sift through for the investigation, flooding the site with false complaints and other ephemera.
When the form was first released online, it lacked a CAPTCHA, which savvy Twitter users were quick to use to their advantage by using bots to spam the site. Users also used a generator to produce fake names and fake Missouri addresses. Others simply threw text on the complaint form, ranging from the full script of the “Bee Movie”, to Billy May’s OxiClean sales pitch, to Walter White’s introductory monologue in “Breaking Bad”. TikTok users said they sent the “AO3’s most obscene fanfic” and “a shameless love story of Mario and Luigi.”
“I knew those weird fanfics I read at 3am would come in handy,” commented one TikTok commenter. saying.
Many presented elaborate anecdotes of they woke up the mothers who took their children “to the gender clinic on the corner to be trans” and complaints of “too many men receiving gender-affirming care via viagra.” Another tip referencing “The Crucible” joked“I saw Goody Proctor taking an estrogen shot with the devil.”
The suggestion form added a CAPTCHA on Thursday, but that alone wasn’t enough to deter trolls. The form was removed from the attorney general’s site on Friday morning.
Spamming suggestion forms, colloquially referred to as “snitch lines” by detractors, is not new. Texas abortion reporting site shut down in 2021 after activists inundated him with Shrek porn. Amid massive protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020, activists spammed the tip lines of law enforcement agencies with K-pop fancams and videos of police brutality against protesters. Relentless trolling has become a form of protest against draconian surveillance.
The tip line is part of a larger “investigation” that Missouri’s attorney general is using to target the state’s trans community. Earlier this month, Bailey Announced an emergency directive severely restricting access to gender-affirming care in the state.
The new restrictions, which take effect on April 27, will require patients to attend 15 therapy sessions over the course of 18 months before they can receive puberty blockers, hormone medications or gender-affirming surgery. In the emergency sentenceBailey referenced the state’s consumer protection law, saying it is “charged with protecting consumers, including minors, from harm.”
The emergency rule cited a disputed whistleblower report alleging that a center for transgender youth at St. Louis Children’s Hospital rushed patients into gender-affirming care without informed consent.
The ACLU of Missouri argues that Bailey’s emergency rule is based on discredited claims, not scientific evidence.
“Gender-affirming care is critical to helping transgender teens succeed in school, build healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” ACLU of Missouri tweeted. “This emergency regulation will have a drastically negative impact on transgender youth, exacerbating the bias, discrimination, violence, and other forms of stigma they continue to face in their daily lives.”