The Rise in Anti-Trans Rhetoric Should Worry Everyone.

The world is becoming a scary place for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The community has seen a rise in anti-queer rhetoric which is dehumanizing and treats the queer community as different. This rhetoric spread by prominent right-wing commentators has sparked a movement questioning the democratic rights won with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex couples have the right to be married and preventing that right would be discrimination. Recent bills such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill have stripped the ability to talk about 2SLGBTQ+ issues inside the classrooms with rainbow flags being ripped down in classrooms across the state. This bill has prevented students who are members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community from expressing themselves with fears of retaliation from homophobes who have been empowered by the passing of this bill and related legislation.

Anti-trans rhetoric has exploded as a consequence of the shooting at a Nashville Elementary School which left six people dead. There have been more than 130 mass shootings in the United States this year alone. The response from right-wing commentators has not been one of horror at the amount of gun violence which is prevalent across the United States. Instead, there was an effort to link transgender people with the rise of violence in the country. This is even though trans people are rarely ever the perpetrators of mass shootings. Former President Donald Trump claimed that the trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists. Another right-winger commentator Tucker Carlson claimed that trans people are targeting Christians and called for gun control. This coverage is sensationalizing the events and muddles real facts surrounding the shooting. Although the shooter did identify with he/him pronouns and their actions are not only abhorrent but horrifying. This should not give a license to hate against the 2SLGBT+ community. Especially since in the over 300 mass shootings carried out since 2009 under one percent have identified as non binary or trans. Using the Gun Violence Project which counts shootings with 4 or more casualties we can estimate that there have been 2692 shootings since 2018. Trans people should make up at least 16 cases to account for the fact that 0.6 of the population is trans. Instead only three possible cases can be found. This ignores the fact that 2SLGBTQ+ people are far more likely to be victims of a targeted mass violence attack than the perpetrators of one. 

The rise of right-wing populism through politicians like Trump has resulted in a precarious time for minority rights in America. In 2019 Trump openly banned trans service members and instituted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy which silenced trans people just three years after President Obama confirmed transgender individuals have the equal right to serve their country as cis individuals have. As queer people watch their rights being crawled back they also witness their community being the victims of extreme violence. Just last year 25 people were injured and 5 died when a mass shooter purposefully targeted an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Instead of focusing on much-needed gun control to prevent further shootings, right-wingers across the country are rolling back gun regulations in response to the latest shooting. In Kentucky, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia lawmakers are working to eliminate background checks, roll back red flags laws, and reduce the amount of gun-free areas in those states. In 25 states there is no permit needed to openly carry a handgun.

The Canadian trans community has similarly faced a number of hardships over the past few years. The trans community experiences a major gap in accessing healthcare. Our public healthcare system is set up for cis individuals and often there is no education to understand how to accommodate trans folks. Latest Canadian numbers estimate Canada is home to over 100 000 trans and non binary people. Canada’s large and vibrant 2SLGBTQ+ community deserves to be supported by their government, there is a serious lack of gender-affirming care across Canada which needs to be addressed. In 2020 nearly half of Trans people stated they have unmet health needs and over the last five years 68 percent of the trans community experienced verbal harassment. As well 269 hate crimes against trans people were reported to the police in 2020 alone. This situation has led several trans individuals to feel unsafe in their daily life. This is especially when news articles specifically mention the fact the shooter was trans repeatedly despite it having little to do with the actual shooting as the motive is still unknown. This has not stopped right-wing commentators from stating that this was an example of a trans attack against Christians. There is no evidence supporting that narrative, It is based on a large amount of ignorance the general public has concerning trans issues. This can be seen as deeply in healthcare as in Canada many healthcare officials who prescribe medication for trans individuals know little about the community. Some healthcare officials have even adopted conversion practices which attempt to convince someone they aren’t who they believe themselves to be. In this unsupportive environment, 21 percent of trans people reported having attempted suicide. 

The rise in anti-trans rhetoric has pushed first narratives that trans people are pedophiles and now attempts to push the grand narrative that trans people are violent criminals. 2SLGBTQ+ people simply want to live their life as the person they accept themselves as. Despite this, Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists or TERF’s claim that the acceptance of transgender individuals somehow tramples on their rights. This hate has been so widespread that government-funded agencies have expressed anti-trans views. In Quebec ,PDF Quebec described a trans actress who starred in an ad for International Women’s Day as a violent man. The actress Johnstone describes mountains of hate messages that they received. This hate was directly a result of organizations like PDF Quebec negatively highlighting queer individuals and then sending endless anonymous Twitter trolls to harass them. Popular authors such as the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rolling has expressed anti-trans views. The changing of traditional gender norms does not discredit the real lived experiences of women. Both women and queer individuals are discriminated against in a system that prefers cis white males. How can a self-identifying feminist claim they are fighting for equality which degrades and dehumanizes a section of the population? 

The large-scale highlighting of the shooter’s identity ignores the number of shootings that have become regular in the United States. These shootings happen every day and highlight a large issue. The targeted discrimination against the trans community makes it more likely people will commit crimes against them. As a society we need to view each other as equally human, all entitled to mother nature’s resources and all entitled to live. This dehumanizing is an attempt to make the trans community seem as other to the west’s hegemony. These efforts make it easier to discriminate against groups. Similar trends can be seen at the end of the First World War as Jewish people were blamed for a large number of issues happening in Europe. Specifically, Jewish people were linked to the spread of Communism, and after the Russian Revolution racists warned of the rise of Jewish Bolshevism which is as useless of a phrase as Jordan Peterson’s Cultural Marxism. The attempt was to make a connection between Jewish people and society’s problems in order to dehumanize the Jewish population so that the public could easily swallow discriminatory legislation.  Jewish people in Europe prior to the Second World War made up 1.7 percent of Europe’s population similar to the 0.6 percent trans people make up. Jewish people were dehumanized over several years which made it easier for the general population to discriminate against them. I caution commentators to not allow the same conditions which allowed for the dehumanizing and eventual violent suppression of Jewish people to be applied to the queer community. Every citizen of every country on the Earth is simply a human being. All equal, all filled with wants, needs, passions, and dreams. Every person deserves the chance to become their full self. The aftermath of this horrific shooting has not only showcased the broken state of gun legislation across the United States but also showcased how easily hate and discrimination against minority groups can spread.