On the afternoon of January 4, Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik shared a meme on X suggesting that multiple recent school shooters have been transgender. Raichik added the claim — spreading rapidly among anti-trans accounts — that the alleged perpetrator of a shooting in an Iowa school that day identified as “genderfluid,” adding, “What’s going on?”
But one of the photos in the meme Raichik shared — supposedly of the shooter in the 2022 Uvalde, Texas, school shooting — was of an innocent woman.
Far-right 4chan trolls had originally shared photos of an unrelated trans woman, identified by NBC News only as “Sam,” to claim that she had perpetrated the massacre. The actual shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed on the scene by police.
This is not the first time Libs of TikTok has spread demonstrably false anti-LGBTQ hoaxes. The account previously shared doctored footage to suggest that a drag performer exposed themself inappropriately to minors as well as a debunked hoax about schools providing kitty litter to students identifying as animals. And Media Matters has documented at least 35 instances where the targets of Libs of TikTok posts, including teachers, medical providers, and librarians, later received threats or harassment online.
When the false Uvalde photo first circulated, Daily Wire personality Candace Owens, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones were among those who shared or referenced the claim. Jones was previously sued for defamation for inaccurately accusing Massachusetts resident Marcel Fontaine of committing the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the suit, Fontaine argued that Jones’ publication InfoWars had published a since-deleted article linking Fontaine with the shooting, which led to threats and online ridicule. Although Fontaine has since died, the lawsuit remains ongoing.
Trans people are no more likely than any other group to commit mass shootings, based on a review of more than 2,830 shootings with four or more victims between 2018 and 2023. The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute estimates that just 0.6% of Americans over the age of 13 are transgender, and it reports that they are four times more likely to experience violent crimes than their cisgender peers. More than 30 killings of trans people were documented in the U.S. in the past year. The victims include Meghan Riley Lewis, 57, of Bel Air, Maryland, who reports say was killed outside her home on December 27 by a delivery driver who shouted anti-trans comments at her before fatally shooting her.