Following a mass shooting at a Christian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, that killed three students and three staff members, right-wing media seized on the reported identity of the shooter to continue villainizing and dehumanizing the entire transgender community and labeling transgender people as a threat to society.
Washington Post reporter Fenit Nirappil highlighted this disturbing trend, pointing out that, in fact, mass shootings “are overwhelmingly carried out by cisgender men” and that “trans people are more likely to be victims of violence than cisgender people.” University of Washington associate professor of criminal justice Eric Madfis, who has studied the gender dynamics of mass shootings, told the Post: “This is not a good-faith effort at trying to address school shootings and mass shootings. This is a cynical, bigoted attack.”
But in the right-wing echo chamber, transgender people are not only a major force behind mass shootings (there is no data supporting this), but they also represent a burgeoning domestic terrorist movement seeking to attack society from within. These false claims are a mirror image of right-wing media’s own long pattern of incitement against LGBTQ people, which has been followed by either near-silence or outright justification of anti-LGBTQ violence after it occurs.
In one example, a hoax claim from a white nationalist social media account, alleging that trans people were planning to kill Christians, made its way into Fox News’ prime-time programming, with star host Tucker Carlson presenting this obvious lie as if it had been a real threat.
Here are further examples of prominent right-wing media personalities using the tragedy in Nashville to promote a full-on scare campaign against an entire marginalized group:
- Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson: “The Colorado Springs shooter identified as non binary. The Denver shooter identified as trans. The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. The Nashville shooter identified as trans. One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
- Right-wing podcast host Tim Pool: “Trans people right now, I believe — this is what’s going around right now on Twitter — per capita, trans people commit more acts of terrorism than any other demographic. Now, that does sound pretty shocking, then you realize there’s very few trans people.” [Timcast IRL, 3/27/23]
- The Federalist CEO Sean Davis: “The trans cult is the most deadly and dangerous violent terrorist group in America per capita, and it’s not even close.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
- Right-wing podcast host Liz Wheeler: “This is what Queer Theory was intended to do: create a new vanguard of supposedly ‘oppressed’ LGBTQ people to stage a neo-Marxist revolution against the cishetereopatriarchal Christian ‘oppressors.’ Trans grooming is working.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
- Anti-trans troll group Gays Against Groomers: “Tennessee banned child sterilization and mutilation (gender affirming care) and weeks later, a radical trans activist shot up a Christian elementary school. They’ve weaponized the trans movement and turned activists into martyrs, teaching that the solution to policy debate is violence. This is so dangerous.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
- Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “A deranged woman who calls herself, or is beginning to call herself, a man — and then of course overall celebrated by elites for doing so — took the lives of six innocent people. Instead of getting Hale the help that she needed along the way, our social media culture, Hollywood, even corporate America affirmed what would ultimately be a lie that our genetic makeup can somehow be denied.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/27/23]
- Newsmax host Greg Kelly: “Looking at the data, looking at recent history, it would seem that transgender is potentially more of a threat if applied recklessly than, say, white supremacy, OK? We have actual documented episodes where we don't have them from white supremacists over the past recent history.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 3/27/23]
- The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens: “When you play Frankenstein with people’s body’s parts, you can’t be surprised when they behave like monsters. A person willing to execute violence upon his/her own body will not hesitate to impart violence onto someone else’s”. (Owens later threatened legal action against right-leaning outlet Newsweek for reporting on her tweet.) [Twitter, 3/27/23]
- Infowars’ Alex Jones bizarrely claimed: “Now, about 80% of the time these school shooters are transgender, and the media tries to cover it up.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 3/28/23]
- Daily Wire host Michael Knowles: “Guns have nothing to do with this, have absolutely nothing to do with this. … They certainly haven't become all that much more dangerous, if at all. What has changed is the fact that we call insanity sanity, and we call truth falsehood, and we call good evil, and we call beauty ugliness” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show, 3/28/23]
- Carlson: “The trans movement is targeting Christians, including with violence. Most Christian leaders in this country don't want to admit that. … Yesterday's massacre did not happen because of lax gun laws. Yesterday's massacre happened because of a deranged and demonic ideology that is infecting this country with the encouragement of people like Joe Biden. Let's start by being honest about that.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/28/23]
- Right-wing activist Christopher Rufo: “The ‘trans suicide’ blackmail, which threatened violence against self, was not enough to prevent state legislatures from banning child sex change procedures, so now the movement proceeds to the second phase, ‘trans vengeance,’ which threatens violence against others.” [Twitter, 3/29/23]