The data is clear: there is no “clear epidemic” of transgender mass shooters


“There is a clear epidemic of trans or non-binary mass shooters.”

—Donald Trump Jr. in a video article, March 28

“One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists.”

Benny Johnsonproduction manager at Turning Point USA, in a tweetMarch 27

The mass murder at a small Christian school in Nashville has led to unsubstantiated claims by right-wing figures that transgender Americans are a potential vanguard of mass shooters.

Police say Audrey Hale, the 28-year-old they identified as the shooter who killed six people in Monday’s rampage, is transgender, citing a social media profile in which Hale used male pronouns . The Post did not confirm how Hale identified himself.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) had her Twitter account temporarily restricted after posting a screenshot of a graphic referencing a “Trans Day of Vengeance” following the shooting; she was referring to an event aimed at protesting anti-trans legislation. (The phrase refers to a meme that has been around in the trans community for some time; Twitter also deleted tweets supporting the event.) In last year’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted speculation — which he later deleted — that the shooter was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.” (The shooter was not one of those.)

Let’s look at the facts about transgender shooters:

In his tweet, which received more than 10 million views, Johnson listed four shootings – “Colorado Springs shooter identified as non-binary. Denver shooter identified as trans. Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. Nashville shooter identified as trans.

In response, his tweet received A “!” tweet from Twitter owner Elon Musk. “These are clear facts,” Johnson replied to Musk.

In fact, these are facts without meaningful context, and the gender identity of the shooters in some of these cases has not been definitively established. Let’s take the cases in chronological order.

In 2018, in Aberdeen, Maryland, a 26-year-old man shot and killed three people at a pharmaceutical distribution center before turning the gun on himself. The sheriff said the shooter was diagnosed with mental illness in 2016, and The Washington Post reported that a close friend reported that the shooter “suffered from bipolar disorder and struggled since starting high school with severe depression. , partly linked to his feeling of not being”. accepted when she first came out as a gay teenager and later as a transgender.

The Denver incident involved two shooters who, in 2019, opened fire on a public charter school focused on a math and science curriculum. One student was killed and eight others injured. Court documents indicate that a shooter, who was 16 at the time, told investigators he intended to target classmates who repeatedly mocked him for being transgender.

Then, in 2022, five people were killed and 25 injured in an LGBTQ nightclub by a 22-year-old gunman who claims to identify as non-binary and uses the pronouns them and them. However, a police detective testified earlier this year that the gunman ran a neo-Nazi website, used gay and racial slurs while playing online and posted an image of a trained rifle scope during a parade of gay pride.

And now, of course, we have the Nashville shoot. As noted, police have identified the shooter as transgender, but this remains to be confirmed.

In his video, Donald Trump Jr. noted that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys indicate that transgender people make up 0.6% of the adult population, or about 1.6 million people. A Washington Post-KFF poll published this month found that “less than a third have used hormone treatments or puberty blockers, and about 1 in 6 have had gender-affirming surgery or other surgical treatment to change their physical appearance.

So we need to estimate the incidence of mass shootings using the metric that transgender people make up 0.6% of the population.

First, we should note that there is no universal definition of mass shooting or mass murder., and how individuals and groups define terms can create a huge gap in the statistics used to describe the frequency of these events. The Washington Post defines a massacre as an event in which four or more people, not including the shooter, were shot and killed. The Post does not consider factors such as location or motive, but many databases exclude killings attributed to domestic violence or gang warfare.

Under the massacres criteria, only one of those tragedies — Nashville — would qualify for inclusion. The Violence Project counts 188 public mass murders since 1966. So, at 0.6% of the population, transgender people would expect to be involved in about one shooting.

“Nashville is the first case of a trans man or trans woman in the database,” said James Densley, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Metro State University and co-founder of the Violence Project. “We will likely update our gender coding when we code this case after more information is released and verified.”

When it comes to mass shootings, we’ll turn to the Gun Violence Project. Since 2018, the organization has counted 2,697 mass shootings under a definition of 4 or more shot or killed in a shooting incident, not including the shooter, under any circumstances. This methodology would include the Aberdeen and Denver cases cited by Johnson. With 0.6% of the population, one would expect at least 16 mass shootings to be carried out by people who identify as transgender. Instead, there are only three possible cases cited by the conservatives.

Trump and Johnson did not respond to requests for comment.

Away from any epidemic of trans mass shooters, evidence shows that people who identify as transgender do not commit mass murder at a rate higher than their percentage of the population. Conservative commentators and politicians should not be so quick to make such claims without putting the facts into context.

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