Perverse Media Narrative Incites Trans-Identifying Activists to Violence
Every day, we learn more information about the identity and motivation of Audrey Hale, the 28-year-old woman who shot and killed three children and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday. We know that Hale was formerly a student at the school, that she identified as transgender in recent months, and that she messaged a friend minutes before the shooting, “I don’t want to live.”
One detail not yet publicly reported is Hale’s exact motive for targeting The Covenant School, for deciding to commit a mass shooting, and for wanting to die. Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday that “what detectives have said so far is there’s possibly some resentment for having to go to that school,” but he also said the police “strongly believe there was going to be some other targets, including maybe family members, and one of the malls here in Nashville.” Police have not determined an official motive or disclosed the manifesto’s contents, and they don’t intend to release the manifesto anytime soon.
What we do know is that LGBT activists don’t want the manifesto released. “It should not be published. The focus should be on how this was able to happen in the first place,” said Jordan Budd, executive director of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE). “Regardless of the shooter’s intentions, the real issue here is the ease of access to deadly weapons in Tennessee and elsewhere.” Laura McGinnis, a spokesperson for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), also endorsed keeping it secret, “the contents don’t change the outcome of the tragedy.”
Their reluctance to uncover the facts suggests they fear embarrassment by association, or at least distraction from their political objective, namely gun control. National Review’s Dan McLaughlin suggested that the groups “are plainly afraid” of what is in the manifesto because it “might cause people to blame other people who share some of the shooter’s ideas.” He didn’t endorse releasing the manifesto or imputing guilt by ideological association, but he did note that “this is exactly what these groups, and their media advocates, would be doing if the tables were turned.”
If Hale’s manifesto did contain an anti-Christian motive, that would certainly provide awkward publicity for transgender activists, who have declared a Transgender “Day of Vengeance” event this weekend in Washington, D.C. and around the country (approximately 130 rallies in 46 states).
A flyer for the D.C. event, organized by the Antifa-friendly group Our Rights DC and the Trans Radical Activist Network (TRAN), declares their intention to “stop trans genocide” — how to counter violence more appropriately than with violence? The flyer also instructs attendees to “wear a mask” — a way to conceal identity — and “bring a buddy” — a common decentralization tactic for “direct action.” Their motto, “the time is now,” evokes images of Europe’s 1848 revolutions as popularized in in the Les Miserables song “One Day More.”
Do transgender activists intend to perpetrate violence or provoke violent altercations during their Transgender “Day of Vengeance”? It’s hard to know for certain. But echoes of violence sure seems to be a theme among the “Trans Radical Activist Network,” at least in their rhetoric. Recent, public statements by trans activists have wished, incited, or threatened violence on those who disagree with their gender ideology. One twitter user responded to the Nashville shooting, “RIP Aiden [the masculine name Hale assumed] wish he got more bigot hits.”
The Trans Resistance Network, in a press statement on The Covenant School shooting, insisted the incident was “not one tragedy, but two.” The tragedy that merited greater attention in their press release is that Hale “felt he had no other effective way to be seen than to lash out by taking the life of others.” They argued that “life for transgender people is very difficult,” due to “the overwhelming odds of homelessness, job discrimination, and constant anti-trans bigotry and violence,” as well as making them “medically under-served.”
Their lives are “made more difficult,” they complained, “by a virtual avalanche of anti-trans legislation, and public callouts … for nothing less than the genocidal eradication of trans people from society.” The “anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and PTSD” experienced by many people who identify as transgender, they blamed not on their discomfort with their own biological sex, but on “the near-constant drum beat of anti-trans hate, lack of acceptance from family members and certain religious institutions, denial of our existence, and calls for de-transition and forced conversion.”
“Hate has consequences,” warned the Trans Resistance Network, and “we will not be eradicated or erased.” Well if that’s not a revolutionary manifesto, I don’t know what is.
This logic has worked itself out in multiple threats of violence in recent weeks. “Oppressed minorities strike back, and if you don’t want it to happen, stop oppressing them,” wrote one Twitter user of the Nashville shooting. “I won’t pretend like this wasn’t caused by the recent legislation in TN.” Other militant activists recommended harassing Tennessee lawmakers at their homes— “these people have names and addresses” — and even threatened to poison them — “you let me know where I can get my hands on ricin then we’re in business.”
Other radical transgender activists have created a shirt featuring the popular slogan, “trans rights … or else,” with rifle silhouettes colored to represent the trans flag. (After the Nashville shooting, Amazon removed the shirt from their online store.) At a pro-transgender counter-protest after the Nashville shooting, at least one activist held a sign reading, “trans girls need guns.” Another transgender activist shot a video of himself brandishing a loaded firearm with the caption, “If you transphobes do try to come for me I’m taking a few of you with me.”
Journalist Andy Ngo, who has performed an invaluable service for American in exposing Antifa, wrote, “Many militant trans activists have an obsession with ultra-violence, sexual violence, murder and suicide.” To support his point, he included photos of mask-wearing activists holding banners reading “Transphobic? Kill Yourself” and “Hate Trans People? Kill Yourself!”
Again, I don’t know whether the pro-transgender rhetoric threatening violence will result in actual violence over the “Day of Vengeance” weekend. However the possibility of violence is serious enough that Twitter has decided to preemptively disable or suspend accounts that retweet the poster or tweet about vengeance in any way. “‘Vengeance’ does not imply peaceful protest,” said Ella Irwin, Elon Musk’s new vice president of trust and safety at Twitter. “We had to automatically sweep our platform and remove >5000 tweets/retweets of this poster.”
Twitter’s crackdown swept up accounts for The Federalist CEO Sean Davis, The Post Millennial, Ngo, and other conservatives reporting on the planned violence. Even the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles was locked out of his account for posting Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,’” with a link to an article about the “Day of Vengeance” rally. And while the crackdown did eliminate a considerable amount of Leftist chatter, those promoting radicalism seem to have adapted more quickly than Twitter’s overworked team of content moderators.
Sadly, recent events have shown that many young people who identify as transgender are radicalized into violence. Before the Nashville shooting, suspects identifying as transgender:
- Shot and injured a law enforcement officer in King County, Wash. on March 20, 2023.
- Shot and injured a law enforcement officer in Atlanta, Ga. on January 18, 2023.
- Killed five and injured 19 in a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. in November 2022.
- Disproportionately participated in the 2020 BLM riots.
- Killed one and injured eight in a mass shooting targeting “transphobic” students at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, Colo. in May 2019.
- Killed three coworkers in a murder-suicide at a Rite Aid Distribution Center in Aberdeen, Md. in September 2018.
Notably, at least four of the 23 individuals charged with domestic terrorism (Amin Chaoui, Emma Bogush, Jack Beaman, and James Mariscano) for invading the Atlanta police training facility construction site on March 5 identify as transgender or nonbinary — a disproportionately high 17%.
But we don’t have to extrapolate from anecdotal evidence; there are actual data to back this up. What I’m about to say can easily be taken out of context, so, if you begin to feel outraged, please read on to the paragraphs that follow. A U.S. government-funded study of college students found that “transgender and gender-diverse youth emerge as the group at the highest risk of support for [violent radicalization].” This study was conducted in pro-transgender Canada, nullifying Leftwing claims that this radicalization is in response to a campaign of right-wing hate.
To clarify, neither the study nor I am saying that all people who identify as transgender are or will become violent radicals. In fact, most people who identify as transgender do not turn to radical violence, at least against others, so we cannot extrapolate these results to the entire class. Just because someone identifies as transgender doesn’t mean they will become a violent killer. Nor do people become violent killers simply because they identify as transgender.
No, when someone turns to radical violence, there must be other factors at play.
One partial explanation is the substantial rate of other mental disorders among people who identify as transgender. A wide array other mental health issues often go undiagnosed or untreated as doctors rush to push patients questioning their gender to lucrative, transgender hormone treatments. Surely some of these untreated mental disorders could turn violent, and some of them do express themselves in self-violence, leading to people who identify as transgender having abnormally high rates of suicide ideation and attempts. Essentially, gender transition medications mask possible psychotic conditions and place the patients on the wrong medications. We don’t know whether Aubrey Hale’s situation fit these facts, but she was receiving medical care related to an emotional issue, so it’s possible.
“The transgender community is, by definition, mentally troubled,” said Joseph Backholm, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for biblical worldview and strategic engagement. “That doesn’t mean they will all become school shooters any more than it means all young white men will become school shooters because some have been. But denying that a troubled population is troubled isn’t going to make anything better, but that’s what we’ve been doing for a while now.”
Another reason — arguably more compelling — is the media’s perverse narrative of trans genocide and extermination. If you hear constantly that a group of people, including lawmakers and members of your immediate family, want to erase you from existence, it’s only rational to go to any lengths in self-defense. Ngo recently combined these two reasons, asking, “What do you think happens when a vulnerable population with high rates of psychiatric comorbidities is given hormones like candy & encouraged to foster a violent hatred of society?” The media keeps fomenting that violent hatred.
Biased Media Coverage
Superlative adjectives can hardly convey how egregiously biased the media’s coverage of the Nashville shooting has been. Reuters decided to blame the victims, tweeting, “Former Christian school student kills 3 children, 3 staff in Nashville shooting” (they changed the article title, but the tweet is still live).
NBC News published a story suggesting that Tennesseans who identify as transgender are the real victims, “Fear pervades Tennessee’s trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter’s gender identity.” That plays right into the narrative repeated last week on the inexplicably popular television blabfest, The View, in which host Joy Behar opined, “there’s this war against trans people,” and actor and queer activist Billy Porter added, “We’re already in a civil war, y’all. It’s a civil war of the mind.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC tweeted, “6 are dead in Nashville. Let’s revisit how much the Tennessee GOP loves guns.” More media — The Washington Post, Newsweek, Business Insider, and Vanity Fair — piled on by digging up a years-old photo of The Covenant School’s Republican representative posing with a firearm, as if there was a connection. NBC News ran the headline, “Some on the right blame gender identity and not guns for Nashville shooting,” as if that were the real story.
Other media — including Newsweek and Left-wing talk show host Brian Tyler Cohen — blamed Tennessee legislators for recently passing legislation designed to protect children from harmful, premature exposure to transgender ideology. Note how ABC News’ Terry Moran attempted to seamlessly weave this messaging into his report:
“… The police confirming six dead, three children, one eight-years-old, two nine-years-old, and three adults, including Katherine Koonce, who is the head of The Covenant School. The police chief also said that the shooter has been identified as 28-year-old female Audrey Hale, said she’s a former student at the school, and confirmed Audrey Hale was a — identified herself as — a transgender person.
“The state of Tennessee earlier this month passed, and the governor signed, a bill that banned transgender medical care for minors, as well as a law that prohibited adult entertainment including male and female impersonators after a series of drag show controversies in that state.” (emphasis added)
The mainstream media pointed fingers in every direction but one: the shooter’s transgender identity or the school’s Christian identity. A popular twitter account collated Tuesday’s front pages of four major newspapers, which all mentioned the shooting, and noted, “Not a single headline says the word Christian, transgender, or targeted”
In fact, the media struggled even to talk about the shooter’s gender identity, unless that was the story. Initial media reports reported that the shooter — who died on the scene without explaining her preferred pronouns — was a biological female, as Nashville police told them. That’s big news, because, as a New York Times graphic illustrates, Hale was the 5th female to commit a mass shooting since 1966, according to a national database, compared to 168 male perpetrators. But when the media later learned the shooter identified as transgender, they edited their original stories to remove gendered references like pronouns, leading to awkward stories with no pronouns in them.
For USA Today, the police misgendering the killer was the story. “Police on Monday afternoon said the shooter was a transgender man. Officials had initially misidentified the gender of the shooter,” they tweeted. The Post Millennial founder Libby Emmons responded, “It’s not the children killed that triggered USA Today, it’s that the suspect’s delusion was not upheld by police.”
The Blaze columnist Auron MacIntyre summarized, “Things that the media has blamed for a trans person murdering children:
...A GOP congressman who owns guns
...Ban on gender ideology
...Ban on drag performances for kids
...The Daily Wire
...But not a serious mental illness championed by the media and educational system”
Politicians Take Up Violent Rhetoric
It isn’t just the media who is guilty of inciting violence with incendiary rhetoric; plenty of elected officials and their spokespersons have waded into the slime, too. California state Senator Scott Weiner (D) tweeted this week, “As we start Transgender Week of Visibility — a week to uplift our trans siblings — red states continue to all but ban trans people from existing. … The war on trans people continues.”
Earlier this month, Nebraska state Senator Machaela Cavanaugh (D) said during her filibuster against a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures, “These bills are steppingstones in the eradication of trans Nebraskans and voting for them is voting for a stepping stone in genocide.”
Last week, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan (D) was photographed wearing a shirt that read “Protect Trans Kids” with an image of a combat knife.
Most threatening of all, Josselyn Berry, press secretary for Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs (D), tweeted a gif of a woman brandishing two handguns with the comment, “Us when we see transphobes.” The insinuation provoked such outrage that she was forced to promptly resign.
To summarize, not all people, nor even most people, who identify as transgender will engage in radical violence. But an unusually high proportion of people who identify as transgender do get mixed up in violent activity. At least some of the blame lies at the feet of political and media figures who view these individuals, with their fragile mental health, as convenient pawns to advance their political agenda.
How to Help Someone Avoid Radical Violence
It’s worth noting, in conclusion, one practical way to help someone avoid becoming susceptible to violent radicalization. Numerous studies point to social isolation as one key factor in a young person embracing a radical ideology. Whether it’s al-Qaeda, ISIS, or white supremacy (like the Buffalo supermarket shooter), these individuals often withdraw from real-life interactions with those who don’t share their beliefs and increasingly engage with an (often online) information echo chamber of radical ideas. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). So, if you know a young person you’re worried about, one step (obviously not foolproof) is to just keep engaging with them.
On the other hand, perhaps you read this piece and thought of someone who identifies as transgender who doesn’t fit into the “violent radical” category at all. That will be common. As I said, not all people who identify as transgender are or will become radicalized. At the same time, a person might become radicalized suddenly and, to those who know him or her, surprisingly. That’s the way many people became aware someone they knew was suicidal or identified as transgender. So it’s still worth keeping an eye out, not because you hate them, but because you love them.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.