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The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Turning a national tragedy into a fear-mongering weapon

A transgender rally for support. Photo provided by Unsplash.

By Madison Lira

On a day of national tragedy that struck Nashville, Tenn., Covenant Christian School, many far-right conservatives are turning the mass shooting into a fear-mongering tactic to use against transgender people. The shooting allowed far-right officials to further their transphobia within legal matters. Earlier in March, Tenne. Gov. Bill Lee signed a law that would place a ban on all gender-affirming care for any transgender person under the age of 18. While at the same time, having a permitless carry law in place across the state allows anyone over the age of 21 to purchase a firearm with no permit. 

As the aftermath of the shooting was unfolding, Nashville police updated journalists on the shooter’s identity. They revealed that the gunman was a 28-year-old trans man after citing a social media profile that showed him using masculine pronouns. Immediately as this news of the shooter’s identity was released, far-right lawmakers and supporters took this news and added fuel to an already high-engulfing flame of transphobia towards innocent trans-people. 

Lawmakers such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) went on Twitter and Capitol Hill to speculate that hormone treatments may have played a role in the shooting. Stating quote, “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking? Everyone can stop blaming guns now.” Other far-right fear-mongers have been tweeting that there has been a recent pattern of trans and non-binary people perpetrating mass shootings, most recently with the Club Q shooting in Colo. Springs back in November last year. 

In shootings of the past, many of these lawmakers and far-right spokespeople have condemned Democrats and victims as well for turning tragedies like these into gun debates, such as calling for bans against semi-automatic weapons. These far-right conservatives do not realize that this should not be turned into a debate about trans people and that this is a debate for guns because of their laws of permitless carry for adults and not requiring background checks of any kind to purchase a firearm. However, the moment a tragedy strikes that can work in favor of their ideals, they can turn and spin it into a fear-mongering tactic against a protected class of people. 

This past year alone, at least 38 transgender individuals had been murdered, according to a tracker from the Human Rights Campaign. Twitter also saw an onslaught of violent transphobic tweets, even having #TransTerrorism trending, calling for violent acts to be made against anyone who identifies as trans or non-binary and labeling the entire group as child predators. Individuals are putting all people who identify as trans or non-binary at risk with these fear-mongering accusations. 

However, let’s entertain the idea the right has about making this tragedy into a commentary on gender. Let’s start with statistics from the National Institute of Justice, where they noted that almost 98% of mass shootings had been committed by cisgender men (assigned male at birth and identified as male still). The Gun Violence Archive also found that of the 3,561 mass shootings since 2016, only 0.11% of these acts were committed by individuals who did not identify as cisgender. There has not been an increase in “violent transgender acts,” even with the four recent shootings committed by those who did not identify as cisgender. 

Instead, there is an argument to be made that if this recent shooter in Nashville did identify as a trans-male, then the shooter falls into the trend of men committing these acts of violence because of the sinister root of toxic masculinity deeply rooted within American culture. Instead of being able to come out about how they are feeling in an open and comforting space, men are encouraged from a young age to bottle up those feelings until they explode into violent forms of expression. 

What these lawmakers should be doing instead of turning this into a debate surrounding trans people is listening to their constituents and the actual victims of mass shootings. After the shooting had occurred, thousands of protesters marched on the Tenn. state capitol to demand better gun control, such as enacting Red Flag Laws.

The Nashville shooting should not be used to further an agenda and, essentially, an attack on transgender people. At a time when you have conservative commentators like Michael Knowles exclaiming, “Transgenderism must be eradicated,” all this will do is put many people at risk for acts of violence for a very few people committing extremist acts. 

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