“Since [the Nashville shooting] I’ve seen stuff on social media saying that trans people don’t deserve to exist, just because of what one person in our community did,” sophomore Tate Harcourt said.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, thus far there have been 148 mass shootings this year in the U.S., a portion of which were at schools, with roughly 373 school shootings since 1999.
One of the most recent mass shootings occurred at the Nashville Covenant School, an elementary school located in Tennessee holding grades from pre-K to sixth. One factor of this shooting that caused it to stand out in the media more than others is that the shooter was transgender.
Junior Teddy Woldow explained that the way the media and society has treated the transgender community is much different than how the hundreds of cisgender shooters were treated.
“There is this idea that if a transgender person does something wrong, others then have the right to misgender or deadname them,” Woldow said.
“I do not in any way condone or admire what the Nashville shooter or any school shooter has done. Killing a human being is an awful thing to do, no matter who you are. However, when a cisgender person commits a heinous crime, we don’t suddenly begin calling them the wrong name, or misgendering them,” Woldow added.
Harcourt added, “What your trans friends, your trans family, your trans coworkers see is that you view who they are conditionally, and that it’s something that can be revoked- or taken away.”
Harcourt has witnessed the political and social aftermath of the shooting, and it’s clear to them that this specific shooting has been treated differently in the press and social media and has caused the transgender community to become further targeted by politicians and a significant number of people.
Harcourt added that very few pieces of media have been published where the shooter isn’t being misgendered or dead named, and the whole trans community is being targeted with disrespect from the stereotypes created by politicians and the media.
Anti-LGBTQ bills have been passed all around the country, including the Don’t Say Gay Bill (HB 1557), Productivity Over Pronouns Act (US HB985), and hundreds more. Transgender individuals around the globe have felt targeted by them.
Social media influencer and actress Dylan Mulvaney has spent her entire career spreading awareness on trans rights. Mulvaney appeared on comedian and actress Rosie O’Donnels’ podcast, where Mulvany said, “It’s gotten so bad, to the point… with all these bills, that we just have to stay alive.”
Since the shooting, people have tried using it as evidence that transgender individuals are dangerous, or even going as far as to call them terrorists.
One public figure to do so is Tucker Carlson, Fox News host, who included the description “Trans killer” and “We are witnessing the rise of trans violence” under a picture of the Nashville shooter, which provoked the current rise of stereotypes around trans people.
Woldow said, “As a trans person, I have always felt fear directed at me.” He added how he’s grateful to not be a source of the bullying stemming from the shooting, but he is still exposed to plenty of ignorance and hateful speech online.
Donald Trump, Jr., son of former president Donald Trump, posted a video on March 28, saying, “There is a clear epidemic of trans or nonbinary mass shooters,” while according to gender and criminology experts, it’s rare for the perpetrator of a school or mass shooting to be transgender, and transgender and nonbinary people are usually the target of violence.
Laura Dugan, human security and sociology professor at Ohio State University, said with the four known events of shootings perpetrated by transgender or nonbinary individuals, only 0.11% of all recorded shootings were done at the hands of someone who was not cisgender.
Trump has made multiple statements targeting the trans community in the past, including comparing gender affirming care for minors to “child sexual mutilation,” while saying that if he were to be re-elected he would pass a law to only recognize two genders, Male and Female, in the government.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also made comments regarding the trans community and was recently suspended on Twitter for her anti-trans remarks.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in [transgender] children, which is not normal nor common many years before this. I think that’s completely devastating,” Greene tweeted.
However, even before this year and the Nashville shooting, government officials have spread anti-transgender messages and posts.
In 2022, U.S. Rep. Vicky Harzler’s account was also suspended on Twitter, due to an anti-transgender Tweet stating, “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.” As well as this, a month prior she released an ad on television targeting a transgender swimmer and using the swimmers name and photo from before transitioning.
“After the Nashville shooting, it was originally labeled as one of the first female school shooters, and it was a huge deal, and then it came out that he was trans and my stomach dropped, and I started crying. With the political climate with trans people at the moment, I knew it would come up at every opportunity they got to prove that trans people are inherently more violent, and they would take it and paint a negative picture on us,” Harcourt added.
Woldow said, “America is steeped in white supremacy and gender bias. Ignorance as a whole is a plague that much of our country suffers from, due to the systematically implemented lack of black history, queer inclusive sex education, queer history, indigenous history, Hispanic/Latinx history, conversations about disabled people, etcetera in public schools.”
“People fear what they do not know, and they can’t possibly know enough outside of stereotypes if we do not eliminate this type of ignorance through education. So yes, people jump at the opportunity to blame a shooter’s race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality if it falls outside of a white, cisgender, heterosexual description,” Woldow added.
Woldow described his individual experience as a trans person and how the recent implications rooted at the shooting have impacted him.
“My identity is not a weapon. A gun in anyone’s hand is dangerous- shooters are not terrorists because of their race, gender, or sexuality. They are terrorists because of the weapons in their hands,” said Woldow. He explained how even if he wasn’t directly called a terrorist, every attack on Transgender identities affects him personally, and he feels the societal pressure of expectations, stereotypes, and
fear every day.