‘The scapegoat for bigots’

The trans pride flag
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Five people were killed and two were injured in a mass shooting during Fourth of July weekend in Kingsessing. The suspect used an assault-style rifle to kill, seemingly at random, while wearing a bulletproof vest and a ski mask.

Yet right-wing politicians and conservative media outlets seem to be obsessed with what the suspect wore in Facebook photos. 

On the shooter’s now-deleted Facebook page, photos showed the suspect with long braided hair while wearing “women’s” clothes. Conservatives were quick to pick the story up and use it to perpetuate their transphobic beliefs. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene even took to far-right social media site gab to state “Another trans shooter,” with a link to an article from the far-right conspiracy blog the Post Millennial.

But what does Greene mean when she says “another”?

According to Gun Violence Archive, 372 mass shootings occurred across the country this year as of July 9. Add that to the 2,700 shootings that have occurred since 2018 and that totals 3,072 total mass shootings in the past five-and-a-half years.

How many shootings were committed by trans suspects? 

There was one in March at Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn; one in Denver at STEM School Highlands Ranch in 2019; and one in Aberdeen, Maryland at a pharmaceuticals distribution center in 2018. There was also the shooting at Club Q in Colorado by someone who claimed to be nonbinary, but as many have reported, there was no evidence prior to the shooting that the suspect identified as anything other than male.

Was Greene onto something when she said, “Another trans shooter”? Counting last week’s incident in Philadelphia, she has four shootings out of 3,072 to blame on trans people.

Make that three. Because the shooter in Kingsessing may not have been trans after all. Vice did a deep dive into the suspect’s Facebook account before it was deleted, noting how “there is no available evidence to suggest that they are transgender.” What Vice did find were repeated posts about second amendment rights, pro-gun views, support for former president Donald Trump and a general dislike for President Joe Biden.

This idea was further reinforced during a July 5 press conference hosted by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO). Asa Khalif, an activist and member of the DAO LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, clarified that the suspect has “not identified themselves as trans,” and has “only identified as male.” Khalif said this is the language the DAO will use until they hear otherwise.

Khalif also expanded on how the narrative claiming the shooter was trans is dangerous to the trans community.

“The language spewed out by the conservative press is violent and dangerous, and is targeting trans women of color,” Khalif said. “It’s rallying the community to be violent and we’re better than that. We have our trans women and our trans men living in these communities, working, thriving in the community. They are not killers. They are the most vulnerable to violence and they want to live their lives, and they have every right to do so. We will not allow conservative bigots to use that type of language to attack trans people. This is about someone who used violence to hurt and harm our city and our community, and I’m sure they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We will not allow trans women — and in particular trans women of color — to be the scapegoat for bigots.” 

That brings us back to the math in question. There were 3,072 mass shootings in the past five-and-a-half years. Of those shootings, three suspects were identified as transgender. That’s not even 1 percent of shootings. 

Furthermore, a study released last year by UCLA found that 1.6 million adults identify as transgender. That means that not even 1 percent of trans people are mass shooters, which is a statistic we should not have to research.

Greene seems to be really hyper fixated on that percentage, creating a narrative that trans people are a threat when the reality is far from that.

However, Greene is not ready to have the conversation with her colleagues about why mass shootings are on the rise.

As the saying goes: “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.”

And when it comes to Greene and other members of the far-right, those three fingers are soaked in blood.

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