Mass shooters are almost never trans

The latest salvo in the conservative culture war against transgender people is rushing to blame them for mass shootings.

In the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Representative Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) claimed the shooter was transgender, a sentiment captured by right-wing media personality Candace Owens. Sagittarius was not trans. It was all a rumor on social media that was blown out of proportion.

The shooter in Highland Park, Illinois, who killed seven people and injured 46 others in a parade, wore women’s clothing to draw attention away from his face tattoos. This led to another round of tweets and accusations in right-wing media that the shooter was trans. He is not. Wearing makeup and women’s clothing as a disguise is not the same as being trans.

As of this writing, there have been 337 mass shootings in the United States this year. Not a single one of them was trans. Between 2018 and 2021, there were 2,064 mass shootings in America. Of those, two were trans. One was a man in the process of switching in Aberdeen, Maryland in 2019, who killed four, including himself. The other was a trans teenager in Denver who killed one student and injured eight others at his high school in 2018. The motivation for the shooting was apparently bullying over the shooter’s trans status.

Experts put the U.S. transgender population somewhere around 1.6 percent, or as high as 5 percent for young adults. When it comes to mass shootings since 2018, transgender people make up only 0.08 percent of shooters. By comparison, cis-sex men commit over 90 percent of all mass shootings.

This scapegoat of transgender people in a new twist on an old conservative tactic to move the blame away from weapons when mass shootings take place. For the past many years, it has been common to accuse shooters of being “radical leftists” or antifa. There were memes claiming the political alignment of both the Highland Park shooter and the man who killed eight people in Dayton, Ohio in 2019, including his transgender brother. That’s not true in Highland Park, and the FBI had to deny the Dayton one thanks to an enthusiastic social media campaign from right-wing media figures like Kellyanne Conway and Andy Ngo.

While it is a practical deflection tactic to accuse transgender people of being shooters when it comes to gun control, the recent spurt of associating transgender people with mass shootings is disturbing. Conservatives in America have been depriving transgender people of their rights at an alarming rate. In Texas, trans students are no longer allowed to play sports in public schools except during their gender assigned at birth. Parents who pursue life-saving, gender-affirming care for their trans children are being investigated for child abuse by the Department of Public Safety. A bill to ban minors from drag events could possibly lead to trans women no longer being allowed to be in public around children at all.

Traditionally, targeting transgender people has been part of a major fascist push. Restricting a marginalized group that many Americans do not understand well makes it easy for them to practice for further rollback of rights to other groups. Blaming transgender people contributes to the idea that they are a mentally ill threat to society that needs to be eliminated.

However, the numbers do not lie. Transgender people do not commit mass shootings.

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