The trans community is fearing a “backlash” following the school shooting in Nashville.
Six people, including three nine-year-old children, were killed after Audrey Hale opened fire in the Christian Covenant School in the Tennessee state capital.
Shortly after police revealed that Hale, a former pupil at the school, identified as a transgender man, the hashtag #TransTerrorism began trending on Twitter.
Trans activist Kim Spoon, from Knoxville, Tennessee, told NBC News the community was “terrified” adding: “More blood’s going to be shed, and it’s not going to be shed in a school.”
Denise Sadler, a transgender drag performer, said she had already hired four armed guards before Monday’s shooting to secure a drag show she is hosting at a gay bar in Nashville this weekend.
Following the anti-trans rhetoric online since the attack she now plans to double that to eight guards.
“You don’t know if [the shooter’s gender identity] is going to trigger a community of people who already hated us to come and try to shoot us to prove a point,” Sadler said.
“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of hurt going on, there’s a lot of anger going on, there’s a lot of confusion going on.”
During a press conference on Tuesday, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said a motive for the shooting was still unknown.
However, on Monday, when he was asked if Hale’s transgender identity could have played a part in the motive, he replied: “There is some theory to that. We’re investigating all the leads.”
Aislinn Bailey, the acting president of Tri-Cities Transgender, a trans advocacy group based in Johnson City, Tennessee, said her initial reaction to news that the suspect was transgender was “fear”.
“I knew that as soon as anyone mentioned that it was immediately going to become the centre focus instead of what should be the focus, and that’s gun violence in this country,” Bailey said.
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She condemned the choice by police to release information about the suspect’s gender identity when they did not appear certain about its relevance.
Baily said: “I think it was unethical and highly suspect that information like that, which they had to have known could cause backlash on the trans community – releasing information like that without it being verified, that’s unconscionable as far as I’m concerned.
“We were already fearing for our lives. Now, it’s even worse.”