Of course the US far right is spreading false claims that the Lakewood Church shooter was trans

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Feb 14, 2024 at 01:38 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

On Sunday 11 February 2024, a tragic shooting occurred at the Lakewood megachurch in Houston, Texas. During the incident, one 57-year-old man was injured and a 7-year-old boy, the shooter’s own son, was also caught in the exchange. Now, only days after the heartbreaking event, a narrative has emerged from far-right circles, peddling misinformation that the perpetrator, Genessee Ivonne Moreno, was transgender.

Moreno, who targeted a megachurch run by famous televangelist Joel Osteen, was gunned down after she began opening fire. According to the BBC, while the shooter’s motive is still not fully clear, investigators have revealed that Moreno had the word “Palestine” written on the butt of her gun.

Initial reports also revealed that Moreno had suffered from a history of mental illness issues and had at times gone by male aliases. However, there was no definite information provided about her gender or indeed how she identified at the end of her life. Therefore, the attempt to link the incident to transgender identity is not only baseless but also indicative of the far right’s willingness to exploit tragic events for their own ideological narrative.

It’s long been known that conservatives have linked shootings to both mental illness and, more specifically, the transgender community. This unfounded tale of what is now known as “trans terrorism” has been amplified by dubious sources such as X account Libs of TikTok and even Elon Musk, highlighting the far right’s inclination to redirect blame towards the LGBTQIA+ community as opposed to focusing on the importance of gun control.

Libs of TikTok, a platform notorious for targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals, added fuel to the fire by sharing a document which suggested the shooter often used the name “Jeffrey.” Once again, I’m failing to see the relevance of the shooter’s gender.

@rachel_gilmore

This is a bad trend!!

♬ original sound - Rachel Gilmore

This claim has now led to calls for a national conversation regarding LGBTQIA+ movements, erroneously painting them as potential sources of violence. Musk surprisingly delved into speculative territory by pondering on the role of hormones in gender-affirming care regimens, despite a conspicuous absence of evidence supporting such a connection.

“The Lakewood Church shooter was transgender,” Libs of TikTok claimed. “Another act of trans terrorism. We need to have a national conversation about the LGBTQ movement turning youth into violent extremists.”

In a press conference, police officials were quick to debunk the misinformation, clarifying that there was no indication that the shooter identified as anything other than a cisgender woman. The motive behind targeting Osteen’s church remains a mystery, but antisemitic writings were found among the attacker’s possessions.

Plus, as previously mentioned, her AR-15 weapon featured a “Palestine” sticker on the bottom. Reports indicate a familial dispute involving Moreno’s ex-husband’s family, some of whom are Jewish. Additionally, the shooter, who was also undergoing treatment for schizophrenia at the time of the event, legally acquired her AR-15 in December 2023.

Moreno’s ex-mother-in-law, Rabbi Walli Carranza, shed light on the shooter’s struggle with a specific type of schizophrenia that made her prone to violence while also criticising the absence of a “red flag law” in Texas, which could have allowed intervention by concerned family members to prevent firearm access. The legal acquisition of a weapon by an individual with a history of mental health issues adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing debate around gun control and mental health treatment.

Remember when a transgender man carried out a tragic mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville? Figures from the far-right, including Donald Trump Jr. gleefully peddled the outlandish tale of an unprecedented surge in trans-related incidents. It’s almost as if they were competing in a fiction-writing contest where the most preposterous narrative wins. In the spirit of holding a mirror to absurdity, let’s unpack this fantastical claim that conveniently overlooks the statistical reality of mass shootings being predominantly committed by cisgender men.

Platforms such as Libs of TikTok have been a key player in fueling the crusade against LGBTQAI+ communities. As mainstream Republicans have continuously and actively campaigned against queer rights, the account has gained greater influence.

As a result, hospitals, particularly Boston Children’s Hospital, experienced numerous bomb threats last summer after the account obsessively highlighted their provision of gender-affirming care to transgender youths, leading to a subsequent legal case.

The notion of “trans terrorism” is not only patently false but also reflects a dangerous willingness to scapegoat an entire community based on misinformation, contributing to harmful stereotypes and distracting from the real issues surrounding gun control, mental health awareness, and violence prevention.

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