On Tragedy & Transphobia: A Statement in Response to Nashville, Our Community, and the Past Few Days
We were devastated to hear on Monday that another mass shooting had taken place at a school in Nashville, TN, and that it had resulted in the loss of six lives. Most of us can’t imagine the pain many people are feeling this week–people who lost loved ones on Monday, people who are reliving the pain of similar events, and people who feel afraid and disheartened by the ongoing epidemic of mass shootings in America. Our thoughts are with all of these people, especially the friends and families of victims in Nashville.
Early on Tuesday, we learned two things: first, that the shooter in Nashville reportedly identified as transgender, and second, that a transgender advocacy organization had issued a statement about the shooting that appeared to justify or explain the shooter’s actions. As we have clarified, we are not affiliated with that organization, but due to the similarity of our groups’ names, people began to contact us with feedback. Fox News later issued a story about that group’s letter, and around midday, we started receiving an onslaught of messages– via email, on our website, and on social media– ranging from outrage to transphobia to threats of violence.
Before the confusion about the other group’s statement, Trans Resistance wasn’t planning to make a statement at all. Like everyone else, we found the news of the shooting horrific, but we have no immediate connection to the community impacted. We did have a collective sinking feeling when we found out that the shooter might have been trans, because we feared that information would be used to further stoke anger and hatred of trans people. Still, we never assumed we would be asked to speak for all trans people, or be asked to answer for this tragedy. Now, though, even folks who know we didn’t issue the statement are asking us to speak simply because we are a trans organization. And most importantly, there are those in our TQBIPOC community who need support to weather the harassment, violence, and cruelty being circulated in the news and on social media. In the impossible effort to satisfy everyone, here is what we have to say:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this most recent and every other mass shooting our country has suffered. We affirm the sanctity and dignity of every human life. Every life lost to violence–especially theoretically preventable violence, like gun violence in the US–is a wound that can’t be healed.
As a community organizing group, we advocate every day for ourselves and our TQBIPOC siblings without using violence. Our work is often difficult and sometimes frustrating. But we know the power of making change and creating community through love, care, and action. This is how we get it done!
We don’t have the ability to apologize for or explain the person who committed this act. We didn’t know them. They were not a member of our community. It’s illogical and problematic to ask all transgender people to answer for the actions of one individual. Like all humans, trans people are diverse, multifaceted, and sometimes bad people. Just as we cannot ask all white, cisgender men to answer for the crimes of Columbine or Charleston, we cannot go down the road of asking identity groups–specifically those who carry oppressed identities–to answer for this event, no matter how upset or confused we might feel.
The messages we have received in the past 24 hours are horrific and unacceptable. We are human, and reading the messages impacted us. It is clear from these messages that people are upset about the very fact of transness; they were simply transphobic. Their authors are co-opting a shooting to advance an already pervasive anti-trans sentiment.
We won’t stand for being intimidated, harassed, and threatened. We are documenting every message received and working with our security network to protect ourselves and our community.
To our beloved TQBIPOC community: we see and hold you. Transness is not violent; transness is beautiful. We are, as always, here for you.
Thank you for reading. We hope you will continue to show love and compassion to your neighbor, to take care of yourselves, and to challenge yourselves as needed to experience rage, sadness, or anger without further marginalizing a category of persons who, now more than ever, needs your support.
Trans Resistance MA