After a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, right-wing media figures falsely accused several trans people of being the shooter.
These baseless claims appear to have originated on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board, known as “/pol/,” where users often spread hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and virulently hateful content.
According to the Trans Safety Network, images of three different trans people were widely circulated and baselessly attributed to be the shooter. One of the targets of the smear campaign is Sam, a trans woman whose photos were taken from Reddit and spread across the internet. In an interview with NBC News, Sam said, “Transphobic people exist and people are quick to blame someone for terrible things instead of looking for the truth about what actually happened.”
Prominent conservative pundits – and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) – promoted the baseless lies that originated on 4chan and used the massacre in Uvalde as a political cudgel to attack trans people:
- During a May 24 special edition of Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show, host Alex Jones baselessly asserted that the gunman “appears to be a transgender, like the person that attacked Dave Chappelle last month.”
- Jones also asserted that, when he heard of the shooting, he said, “I said, I bet it's an incel. I bet it's a dude in a dress. And like when Dave Chappelle said, I just got attacked by a [slur], and it was, and I'm not trying to be mean to the, some people are like that. But man, statistically, these people are – have a higher percentage of whacked-out folks.”
- The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens claimed that “judging by the photos of him cross-dressing, we can assume there were plenty of signs that he was mentally disturbed and abused by adults in his life.”
- Conservative writer Carmine Sabia asserted without evidence, “The Uvalde shooter was apparently bullied because he wore girls clothes. Whether you call that transgender or not is your choice.”
- Gab CEO Andrew Torba appeared to have shared a post that falsely claimed Sam was the shooter.