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Fear among the trans community due to the focus of the Nashville shooting on gender identity: "We are terrified", they lament

2023-03-29T20:19:06.076Z


“We already feared for our lives. Now it's even worse,” says an activist in Tennessee, where the country's first law to restrict drag queen shows had already been passed.


By Matt Lavietes and Jo Yurcaba -

NBC News

Shortly after news broke Monday of a shooting that killed six at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, police said the suspect was transgender.

This detail, as transgender people regret, has fueled an already worrying environment that has led many to fear for their safety.  

Police say that Audrey Hale, who was shot dead by officers who came to the scene, fatally shot three 9-year-old students and three employees of The Covenant School.

Although police have said the motive for the shooting is unknown, some conservatives have blamed it on Hale's gender identity, diverting focus from the fact that she legally purchased seven guns and used AR-15 assault rifles in the massacre. .

[A Girl Who Loved Theater and a Director Who “Knew Everyone by Name”: The Stories of the Six Killed in Nashville School Shooting]

Ten minutes after police said she was transgender, the hashtag #TransTerrorism trended on Twitter.

At around the same time, Republican lawmakers — including Ohio Sen. JD Vance and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — hinted online that the shooter's gender identity played a role.

The New York Post newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, headlined Tuesday: "Transgender murderer attacks Christian school."

“In the LGBTQ community we are terrified”

,

said Kim Spoon, a trans activist from Knoxville, Tennessee.

“She's going to spill more blood, and it's not going to be spilled in a school,” she said.

Republican congressman regrets the massacre in Nashville and in networks they attack him with a photo

March 29, 202300:31

Denise Sadler, a transgender drag queen, said she had hired four armed guards before Monday's shooting to ensure the security of a show she is putting on this weekend at a Nashville gay bar.

Following the anti-trans rhetoric over the shooting, Sadler said she now plans to hire eight. 

“You don't know if [the gender identity of the attacker] is going to trigger a community of people who already hated us to come and try to shoot us to make their point,” Sadler said.

“At the end of the day, there is a lot of pain, a lot of anger and a lot of confusion,” he added.

[Some Conservatives Blame Gender Identity, Not Poor Gun Regulation, for Nashville Shooting]

At a news conference Tuesday, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the motive for the shooting was still unknown.

The day before, however, his response when asked if Hale's identity was related to the motive left the door open to speculation.

“There is some theory about it,” he explained.

Trans men are assigned a female gender at birth and identify as male, while trans women are assigned a male gender at birth and identify as female.

When asked Monday if Hale was a trans man or a trans woman, Drake said "woman," though Hale's LinkedIn account and interviews with those who knew him indicate otherwise.

On video: This is how the police entered the Nashville school to kill the attacker

March 29, 202303:24

Bill Campbell, principal of The Covenant School from 2004 to 2008, said Hale attended the school in 2005 and 2006 and identified as a woman during that time.

As an adult, however, it appears that Hale did not identify as a female.

His LinkedIn social network page, which has since been removed, says he used masculine pronouns."

And a friend of hers, Averianna Patton, who said Hale sent her a message shortly before the shooting, said she signed the message "Aubrey (Aiden)," using Hale's name along with a traditionally male name.

Aislinn Bailey, acting president of Tri-Cities Transgender, a Johnson City, Tennessee-based transgender advocacy and support group, said her initial reaction to the news that the suspect was transgender was fear.

[Tennessee Passes First Law in Country to Restrict Drag Queen Shows]

“I knew that as soon as someone brought it up, it was going to immediately go into the spotlight

instead of what the spotlight should be, which is gun violence in this country,” Bailey said.

She condemned the police's decision to release information about the suspect's gender identity when they did not appear to be sure.

“I think it was unethical and very suspicious that this information, which they should have known could provoke negative reactions in the trans community, was released without verifying it;

As far as I'm concerned, it's inconceivable," Bailey said.

And she added:

“We already feared for our lives.

Now it's even worse."

Nashville shooter bought guns legally, despite receiving treatment for emotional problems

March 28, 202303:04

In recent years, record numbers of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, including Tennessee.

This year, state legislators have introduced more than 400 such bills — more than half of them specifically aimed at trans people — according to the American Civil Liberties Union and another group of researchers who track the flow of legislation. 

So far this year, Tennessee legislators have passed two bills targeting LGBTQ people: A law, the first in the country, that will criminalize some drag performances goes into effect on Saturday, and on July 1, it goes into

effect

. another will be in force that will prohibit attention to minors who affirm their gender. 

Nathan Higdon, financial director of the Knoxville Pride Center, is helping to organize protests against the new law in Nashville and Knoxville this weekend.

[More than 100 bills target LGBTQ rights so far in 2023]

Higdon said that while he and other organizers are "scared shitless" that the conservative backlash over the shooter's alleged gender identity will lead to violence, they are going ahead with the rallies as planned.

“People who hate us are always going to hate us,” Higdon said, “we can't stop doing these things.

We just can't not show up."

Threats and

violent attacks against the LGBTQ community have skyrocketed recently , with

drag

shows

becoming an especially popular target.

Last year, there were at least 140 incidents of protests and threats directed at these events, which have deep roots in the

queer

community , according to the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD. 

Facade of the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. John Amis / AP

On Sunday, an Ohio church said on its Instagram social media account that it had been vandalized with Molotov cocktails after announcing it would hold a

Drag Story Hour

event in April. 

Jace Wilder, the director of education for the Tennessee Equality Project, a Nashville-based LGBTQ advocacy group, said gender identity “doesn't change the horror of what they did regardless of their reasoning.”

“It is unfair and inappropriate to ask trans people to talk about this person and the lives she took,” Wilder said in a message to NBC News.

“We, like all other Tennesseans, are in mourning.

There is no politics that I can care about right now when there are dead children.

End of story.

I pray and will be with the families of all the victims and for peace for our community, and I hope we can all stand up for them and each other at this time," Wilder concluded.

Source: telemundo

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