Right-wing media smear trans people and BLM supporters following Philadelphia shooting

Conservative pundits attempted to link the shooting to trans people and anti-racist activists, while ignoring the suspect's support for Donald Trump

Right-wing media outlets and pundits are responding to a shooting in Philadelphia on Monday by claiming, with little evidence, that the alleged shooter was transgender. The insinuation, sometimes stated outright, is the bigoted myth that trans people are threats to public life, now a common trope in right-wing media.

Conservatives are also attempting to link the shooting to the Black Lives Matter movement, based on social media posts tied to the suspect, while ignoring other posts that praised former President Donald Trump or adopted a right-wing interpretation of the Second Amendment.

“In May, he shared a post entitled: ‘Who supports Trump in 2024,’ which featured an American flag emblazoned with the words ‘God, Guns & Trump,’” Vice reported. The suspect also apparently posted a link to a pro-Trump T-shirt and another to a sweatshirt that reads: “I lubricate my AR-15 with liberal tears."

Vice additionally reported:

“This y’all president,” the suspect wrote under a video of Biden. “We said 2A defends our rights. Now its god save the queen while he attempts to take our arms,” referencing a recent gun safety speech the president gave which he ended by saying, “God save the queen.” In another post with a link to a video about Biden pushing gun control measures, he wrote: “I told you he wanted your rights. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN SAYS BIDEN.”

Police have yet to release the suspect’s name, but local news outlets identified the alleged shooter as Kimbrady Carriker, a 40-year-old local resident. Five people were killed in the attack and another two were injured.

Carriker allegedly posted two photos to social media in which he appeared to wear a bra, wore feminine jewelry, and sported long, braided hair. Right-wing media have used these photos to claim or insinuate, without any additional evidence, that Carriker is trans, while downplaying or ignoring the far-right aspects of his apparent social media presence.

This right-wing response follows a similar pattern of conservative outlets reacting to a mass shooting by either falsely claiming the suspect is trans or using the person’s trans identity as an opportunity to smear LGBTQ communities writ large. Fact-checkers and researchers have consistently found that right-wing claims of a “clear epidemic” of trans people committing violence are completely false, and that trans people are four times more likely than cisgender people to be the victims of violent crimes.

Right-wing media outlets suggested the alleged shooter was trans based on minimal evidence. Many also highlighted the suspect’s apparent support for Black Lives Matter but excluded or downplayed pro-Trump, pro-gun posts.

  • Right-wing tabloid the New York Post headlined its piece “Gunman arrested for Philadelphia mass shooting that left 5 dead is BLM activist who wore women’s clothes: sources.” The article didn’t mention the alleged perpetrator’s pro-Trump posts.  [New York Post, 7/4/23]

  • The Daily Wire, a hotbed of anti-trans propaganda, relied on the Post’s reporting while making the headline even more provocative: “Philly Alleged Mass Shooter Identified As Cross-Dressing BLM Supporter: Report.” Like the Post, the Daily Wire also excluded any mention of Trump. [The Daily Wire, 7/5/23]

  • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro argued that this shooting would likely be “disappeared by the media” because “the perpetrator is not a white dude who backed Donald Trump.” Shapiro added, “The shooter was a 40-year-old man who is trans, apparently. This person posted two pictures of himself wearing a bra, a women’s top, and earrings with his hair braided long in March.” Shapiro also mentioned the suspect’s support of BLM, adding of the shooting: “We're not allowed to talk about this anymore.” [The Ben Shapiro Show, 7/5/23]

  • Conservative tabloid the Daily Mail trumpeted an “exclusive” in its headline, writing: “Cross-dressing gunman behind July 4 Philly bloodbath that left five dead is BLM supporter who made chilling Facebook posts about 'black massacres' and 'evil spirits.'” The piece didn’t mention the alleged shooter’s posts in support of Trump until the 22nd paragraph. [The Daily Mail, 7/4/23

  • La Verdad host Carines Moncada made similar comments, saying the Philadelphia shooter “has been unmasked as a Black Lives Matter supporter who was transgender” and “made chilling Facebook posts about evil spirits.” Moncada claimed that in March 2022, it was revealed through Facebook that the shooter “dressed as a woman with a bra, hoop earrings, [and] gold bracelets.” Moncada then criticized the Biden administration for supposedly ignoring the country's mental crisis and focusing solely on “attacking guns, as if guns go off on their own.” [Americano Media, La Verdad, 07/05/23]

  • Right-wing website Just The News wrote that the suspect “posted cross-dressing pics on Facebook” in its headline. The subheadline highlighted that Carriker is allegedly “fond” of the movie The Matrix, adding that the “co-director called it a transgender allegory.” The article didn’t mention the suspect’s praise of Trump. [Just The News, 7/4/23]

  • Junk conspiracy theory website The Gateway Pundit’s story was headlined: “Gunman Behind Philly Massacre is BLM Supporter…. and Transgender?” Like other conservative outlets, the Gateway Pundit didn’t include any mention of Trump or the Second Amendment in its article.  [The Gateway Pundit, 7/4/23]

  • Conservative website The Post Millennial characterized Carriker in its headline as a “BLM Supporter.” Many conservatives on social media went on to share The Post Millennial’s coverage, which also failed to mention any of the alleged perpetrator’s pro-Trump commentary. [The Post Millennial, 7/4/23

  • Conservative blog Hot Air’s headline read: “Philadelphia shooter was another transgender person.” [Hot Air, 7/5/23]

Right-wing commentators on social media quickly claimed or implied the alleged shooter was trans and a supporter of Black Lives Matter, also ignoring the suspect’s far-right posts

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a mainstay on conservative media, tweeted: “Another trans shooter.” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Libs of Tik Tok creator Chaya Raichik tweeted: “The mass shooter in Philadelphia is trans,” quote-tweeting a post from an account called Philly Crime Update. [Twitter, 7/5/23]

  • Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec wrote: “BREAKING: BLM supporter Kimbrady Watson Carriker named as suspect in Philadelphia mass shooting that killed 5.” Posobiec shared The Post Millennial’s story about the incident. [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Pro-Trump troll account Catturd quote tweeted Posobiec, adding: “Imagine that.” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Like Posobiec, conservative pundit James Lindsey shared The Post Millennial’s story, adding: “What a surprise!” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Conservative commentator DC_Draino wrote: “Media won’t talk about this so we will. Transgender shooter was arrested on Monday after shooting & killing five people & injuring two children in Philadelphia. Time to start having a national dialogue on Trans mass shooters that target children. Enough!! [Twitter, 7/4/23

  • Right-wing provocateur Andy Ngo tweeted: “The suspect in a deadly mass shooting in Philadelphia on Monday that killed 5 & injured 4, including children, is revealed to be a trans #BLM activist. Kimbrady Carriker was arrested without incident, contradicting claim that black suspects are killed.” Ngo also linked to coverage from The Post Millennial. [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Timcast employee Josie Tait, who tweets under the handle The Redheaded Libertarian, commented on The Daily Mail’s story: “If only there were signs.” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Right-wing influencer Ian Miles Cheong tweeted a photo of the alleged shooter, adding: “This is a beautiful woman/suspected mass shooter and if you disagree you’re a transphobic bigot.” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Right-wing Twitter influencer Travis_in_Flint referred to the alleged shooter as “a transgender BLM activist.” [Twitter, 7/4/23]

  • Conservative YouTube channel Legally Armed America titled its stream “BLM ‘trans’ nutbag is shooter in Philadelphia - who shot a 2 year old.” [YouTube, 7/4/23]

  • Right-wing media host Wayne Allen Root also shared The Post Millennial story, tweeting: “History may refer to this period in American history as ‘The Great TRANS War.’” [Twitter, 7/5/23]

  • Anti-trans activist Malcolm Clark posted a thread connecting several stories about trans or gender-nonconforming people, alleging they received disproportionately positive treatment from institutions. “1./ What connects these four trans news stories from the last 48 hours? When Kimbrady, a transgender shooter in Philadelphia, killed 5 people the mainstream media decided to call him a man though if *he'd* been shot he'd likely have been called ‘yet another’ trans victim.” [Twitter, 7/5/23]