Despite all the thoughts and prayers in the aftermath of the horrific attack on the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs, anti-LGBTQ+ violence is a part of a plague of hate engulfing the nation. Unfortunately, the violence targeted at LGBTQ+ people isn’t limited to the mass shooting at Club Q.
The politicians and social media influencers who intentionally lie and distort about Drag Storytimes and claim people are trying to groom and harm children have dire consequences. According to Heavy, the Club Q shooter is the grandson of a Republican state legislator in California who equated the Jan. 6 insurrection with the Revolutionary War. The shooter was known to authorities for violent threats against his own mother.
The Colorado Springs mass shooting follows a concerted effort to demonize and dehumanize trans and queer communities. Hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ+, with a heavy emphasis on denying trans rights, have been introduced across the country.
In a conversation on Transgender Day of Remembrance, writer-activist Raquel Willis put the Colorado Springs mass shooting in context as a part of a broader attack on LGBTQ+ communities.
It’s such a massive issue. I see that when we consider violence, the anti-trans violence, we have to, of course, as we’ve been saying the whole time, consider this whole landscape of people getting information about trans people not being who we say we are. So not being valid right. Not having valid lives. Not having valid dreams, aspirations, goals. It feeds into these narratives about trans people being predatory, right? So that is also another layer of it as well.
And so just these two alone, give people who don’t know anything about trans people and most people, most Americans still say they don’t know a trans person in their everyday life. It gives them this kind of idea that being trans is something that happened to you. Is something you picked up along the way. All of the tropes that we’ve heard about being gay, as inauthentic or not real when a lot of us you know we were kids, right. We heard that over and over again. ‘Your gay because something happened to you. Your gay because you’ve read something. You’re gay because whatever, whatever.’ So we have to think about that.
When I considered the violence, I mean, especially as a Black trans woman. There’s not enough data on why a lot of the violence that happens particularly to Black and let’s Latinx trans woman happens. But anecdotally, a lot of times that happens within an intimate partner situation, you know, or in concert with some kind of sexual violence or harassment. And it’s a weird thing because we’re both told that we’re not real, but also objectified sensationalized and sexualized. As, you know, these objects for people’s fantasies, you know.
And then so, if you don’t see us as human, you don’t see us as real you only see us as objects, what does it mean to take our lives right? What does it mean to take our rights away? What does it mean? To say, ‘oh well you don’t deserve happiness and joy. You also just don’t deserve to consider yourself real and valid.’ Like even that is radical to a lot of people that we would even consider ourselves worthy of serious consideration.
Willis also said that people can empathize with others regardless of whether they share the same experiences. People don’t have to bear their soul to be respected.
I am no longer interested in this idea that someone has to understand every minute detail of my experience to respect me. You don’t need to know what age I was when I transitioned or my birth name or what surgeries I may or may not have had, what hormones I may have coursing through my body or what my chromosomal makeup is to respect me and so respect my humanity.
So, what are the things that we can connect on? I know you don’t have to be trans to understand what it feels like to be bullied, to be ostracized, to be told you can’t have certain emotions or certain interests or maybe even like a certain person, right? It may not have even been about gender when you fell in love for the first time and we’re told that you couldn’t like that person. So, if we know what it feels like to be told that we don’t have control over our lives or we don’t know what’s right for us, can that be enough to say that it’s not okay to make other people feel that way?
Check out the full conversation on Instagram.