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Right-Wing Ghouls Are Already Using the Nashville Shooting To Demonize Trans People

A group of people mourn at a memorial outside.

**Content warning: school shootings, extreme transphobia.**

Following yesterday’s horrific shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, we saw a rash of terrible—and familiar—reactions from conservative media and politicians. A Fox News guest (once again) pushed door control over gun control, and we got “thoughts and prayers” statements from the very lawmakers who consistently make it clear they value guns over children’s lives.

But there’s also been a much more chilling response from some figures on the right, who have decided to take the tragic murder of three nine-year-old children and three adults and make it part of their ongoing vicious attacks on trans people.

The shooter was initially identified by police and media as a woman, which drew intense attention due to how rare those instances are. But according an unnamed source “close to the family” in reporting by The Daily Beast, the shooter had “relatively recently” come out as transgender, which police have also discussed, though this is still a developing story.

And immediately, that’s what these right-wing reactionary figures latched onto as being the reason, motive, and cause for mass murder.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—who has repeatedly filled in for Kevin McCarthy as speaker pro-tempore and is reportedly being considered as Donald Trump’s 2024 vice presidential running mate—tweeted, “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking?”

“Everyone can stop blaming guns now,” she added, clearly implying that what we can blame is trans people and gender-affirming medical care.

Ohio Republican Senator J.D. Vance tweeted that “if early reports are accurate that a trans shooter targeted a Christian school, there needs to be a lot of soul searching on the extreme left. Giving in to these ideas isn’t compassion, it’s dangerous.”

Donald Trump Jr. (who was teetering on the verge of irrelevance before his father re-entered the presidential race) tweeted some staggering misinformation, falsely writing that trans and non-binary people make up the largest proportionate demographic of mass shooters. Based on that completely false statement, he thinks that “rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bullshit on our kids.”

Rumors that mass shooters are transgender and Republican fearmongering pop up after pretty much every shooting, but this incident, where it appears to be more than just a rumor, comes at a time when right-wing attacks on trans people are already running at full speed. The response feels like anti-trans conservatives have been waiting for something like this to happen, and their reaction has been ghoulish. Greene, for example, didn’t even bother with any sort of condolences or recognition that people—children—were murdered before posting viciousness and glib sarcasm. “The female Nashville shooter identifies as a man. So shouldn’t we just blame white men again?” she tweeted from her personal account.

By blaming “hormones” and gender-affirming care, it is very obvious that Republicans plan to conflate trans health care with the same “mental illness” narrative they’ve chosen to blame for previous shootings. Dozens of states have already introduced legislation aiming to ban gender-affirming care for transgender kids, as well as adults in some cases. It seems inevitable that we’ll see a new wave of bills using this as justification to ban trans health care.

Additionally, we’re already starting to see many on the right drop hints that they want to take another right away from transgender Americans—a right that they’ve made clear they value far more than healthcare: the right to own guns.

Actually, there have been much more than hints, and the seeds of this idea were already in place before the Nashville shooting. Just last week, Tucker Carlson did a segment on his Fox News show, stirring up fear around the idea of trans people owning guns. Carlson brought up a recent NPR feature about a group of LGBTQ+ people practicing armed self-defense to protect themselves from hate groups.

According to Carlson, this is “not the exercise of the Second Amendment” but “political hysteria.” He called it “fear ginned up on purpose with maximum dishonesty in order to get people in a state of agitation—armed people in a state of agitation.” He also wildly, baselessly claimed that if trans people were arming themselves with guns, they might go on to arm themselves with fighter jets and tanks.

“You have to kind of wonder, like, what’s the limit to this?” he asked. (Literally no one actually has to wonder that.)

In the hours following the Nashville school shooting, this narrative that the simple existence of armed trans people is dangerous has been spreading fast—especially among the “don’t tread on me,” “come and take ’em” crowd, because they care as little about self-awareness as they do about acknowledging hypocrisy.

In a tweet that has since been deleted for violating Twitter’s rules of conduct, Rep. Greene wrote: “Antifa is organizing a Trans Day of Vengeance. Right after a Trans killed people including children at a Christian elementary school in a mass shooting[.] Does everyone understand that Antifa is an organized and funded terrorist group that brings violence and terror for every cause…”

Even the most staunch anti-gun advocate (*waves hand*) should be able to see how dangerous this is. Stripping only, specifically trans people of the right to own guns is a clear step on the existing path of dehumanization and persecution of an entire group of people.

This sort of mass vilification is especially difficult to combat because of the very nature of scapegoating. The murders committed Monday were horrific beyond words, and it’s likely that anyone defending the rights of trans people right now will be accused of defending the perpetrator. That, of course, is complete bullshit, but it is also a disturbingly effective propagandist narrative.

We knew that the right’s attacks on transgender people were not going to slow down any time soon. Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that they will weaponize tragedy to inflict more hate and violence in any way possible.

(featured image: Seth Herald/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.