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- The Nashville shooter identified as transgender, according a police statement Monday that was later walked back.
- Some Republicans, including JD Vance and Marjorie Taylor Greene, are suggesting the shooter’s trans identity played a role.
- There’s no evidence to suggest that identifying as transgender leads to a propensity for inflicting violence.
Following a deadly shooting at an elementary school in Tennessee, some prominent Republicans are highlighting the fact that the perpetrator was transgender — and suggesting that their identity played a role in causing the violence.
Details continue to emerge about the Monday shooting, but there is no evidence to suggest that identifying as transgender leads to a propensity for inflicting violence.
On Monday, a 28-year-old identified by local police as Audrey Hale killed three elementary school students and three adult staff members at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, before being killed by police.
The local police chief told reporters Monday afternoon that the perpetrator identified as transgender. On Tuesday, in a statement to Insider, Nashville police walked back their earlier statement.
“Was this individual transitioning to a male? We don’t know. We aren’t aware of the shooters intentions in terms of gender identity,” a Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson said. “The term may have been used prematurely.”
—Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 27, 2023
As details of the shooter’s identity began to emerge, some prominent Republican elected officials zeroed in on Hale’s reported transgender identity.
Republican Sen. JD Vance of Ohio wrote on Twitter that there “needs to be a lot of soul searching on the extreme left” following the shooting and that “giving in to these ideas isn’t compassion, it’s dangerous.”
In a brief interview with Insider at the Capitol on Tuesday, Vance expanded on his remarks, blaming rhetoric used by some activists for causing the violence.
“If you tell transgender people that they’re being genocided, it is expected that some people will take violent means as a response,” said Vance. “We recognize that when we’re talking about white supremacists or any other ideological group. There’s a broad recognition in this country that when you tell people that they’re being violently destroyed, that sometimes people take violent measures in response.”
Vance went on to invoke recent debates over children’s education, suggesting that rhetoric around legislation that has sought to ban some books from school libraries may have also led to the violence.
“I think that we should all tone down the rhetoric a little bit, and stop telling trans people they’re being genocided because parents don’t want pornographic materials in school libraries,” said Vance.
—J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) March 27, 2023
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, on the other hand, suggested that Hale suffered from a mental illness stemming from hormone usage.
“How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking?” wrote Greene on Twitter. “Everyone can stop blaming guns now.”
—Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) March 27, 2023
“Our trans youth are troubled,” Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee told Fox News in a statement. “If they don’t get the help they need they can grow up to have some serious issues, but I obviously don’t believe they’ll all grow up to be shooters like this.”
And Vivek Ramaswamy, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate who’s made combatting “wokeism” the centerpiece of his campaign, issued a statement on the shooting declaring that identifying as transgender “more often than not” is a “sign and a symptom that they are suffering from a mental illness.”
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, noted in a statement about the shooting on Monday that transgender and non-binary people are “much more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrator of it.”
—Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 27, 2023
And in a statement to Insider, the National Center for Transgender Equality called for new restrictions on guns while noting that dozens of mass shootings have already occurred this year.
“Regardless of the perpetrator’s identity, it is important to understand that one person’s actions do not reflect an entire community,” the organization said. “Statistically, we know that transgender and non-binary people are far more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than perpetrators.”
Becca Cohen contributed reporting.