On March 27, Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old female who identified as a man, opened fire on students and staff at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. Hale murdered three children and three adults, before being shot dead by responding law enforcement officers. Nashville Police confirmed that Hale’s transgenderism was believed to have played a role in her motivation for the attack, but specifics are scarce. Police reportedly have a manifesto found in Hale’s vehicle at the scene, but it has not been made available to the public.
Tennessee has been in the news in recent months following the passage of legislation intended to prevent the chemical or surgical transition of minors and to prohibit sexually explicit drag show performances before audiences of children. In response to such legislative efforts taking place nationwide, a Trans Day of Vengeance was being promoted by a variety of militant trans liberation groups and known Antifa groups on social media and included efforts to raise funds for armed training to transgender individuals. The attack took place only days prior to the Trans Day of Vengeance, which itself was scheduled to coincide with a “Trans Day of Visibility.” Terrorists will sometimes schedule attacks to coincide with dates ideologically significant to their cause, so it is prudent that any potential linkage between the dates should be investigated.
There has been a growing militancy within the trans-liberation movement and an alignment with Antifa and similar armed anarcho-communist groups.
Black-garbed Antifa, wearing body armor and armed with AR-15 or AK-model rifles, now routinely appear at protests and counter-protests related to the drag show and transition debate. Sharp-eyed observers might have noticed these individuals wearing patches, flags, and stickers displaying the transgender flag overlaid with an AR- or AK- style rifle.
Other iconography includes t-shirts like the one worn by Minnesota’s Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan featuring a dagger with the command “Protect Trans Kids,” although from what they should be protected is not explained. Another popular shirt displays various types of firearms before issuing the threat “trans rights . . . or else.” Such materials have been increasingly mainstreamed and are even available for purchase on Amazon.com.
A simple online search of the term TERF (which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, meaning a woman typically on the Left who opposes men presenting as women and taking advantage of rights or advantages won by feminists) provides nearly endless examples of transgender exhortations to vivid or stylized violence.
As journalist Andy Ngo has noted, a statistically significant number of transgender individuals have affiliated with (primarily left-wing) extremism. Yet it is not immediately obvious why this should be so.
What is the link between transgenderism and the promotion of Antifa-style violence? Why do the rifle and the trans flag go together?
To begin with, dispense with the notion that this trend has anything to do with the Second Amendment. Every American citizen regardless of gender or sexual preference has the inalienable right granted by our Creator and enshrined in the Bill of Rights to bear arms in their own defense. But these are not the rights being demanded with the elliptical “or else.”
In this context, self-defense is understood not as the right of an individual to protect his or her life and property but rather as a collective right used to assert the “defense of communities as such.” This means that bearing arms can be used by self-appointed “community defense” groups to enforce the “political demands of people of color, women, immigrants, queers, and poor people.”
In the same way Antifa members saw themselves as obligated to use force in support of Black Lives Matter in the George Floyd Riots of 2020, these trans groups also see themselves as obligated to defended the transgender “community” against the will of the majority of Americans and their elected representatives in those states which pass laws to protect children.
This overt conflation of physical safety and political demands has been deeply embedded in the political discourse surrounding transgenderism. Its advocates insist that to pass laws prohibiting the irreversible medical transitioning of children is equivalent to “trans genocide” because of suicide rates among self-identified transgender youth. This is despite evidence that transitioning children does not actually work to improve mental health outcomes and the growing numbers of detransitioners who have come forward to criticize youth transitioning efforts.
Still this rhetoric of genocide has been increasingly normalized, in effect justifying political violence against those perceived as opposing the transgender movement’s demands.
Furthermore, state legislative efforts to counter the most extreme gender identity ideology, ranging from preventing pornographic books from being displayed in school libraries to banning the medical transitioning of minor children, are a rare example of effective conservative political activism. That their opponents might successfully organize politically, hold rallies or protests, conduct campaigns, and achieve legislative success is anathema to Antifa and its ilk. Their fundamental reason for existing is to prevent political opponents from organizing politically.
The other link between modern left-wing extremist obsession with transgenderism has to do with another type of “trans,” namely transgression. The need to break down and overcome American societal norms is deeply embedded within the tradition of the American New Left radicals from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Breaking through and abandoning their own “privilege” was an obsession for middle class white radicals of the 1960s. As former Communist Party member Ted Allen wrote in “Can the White Radicals be Radicalized,” “If in doubt at first, just make a list of the privileges and start violating them.”
The Weather Underground (the direct linear antecedent of today’s modern Antifa) deliberately introduced sexual practices including group sex and homosexuality as part of their “Smash Monogamy” campaign. The effort was intended to strengthen unity among the Weather collective and break down the remnants of its members’ patriarchal and heteronormative worldviews.
By abandoning their middle-class “white privilege” through transgressive sexuality they could thus render themselves more able to fulfill the needs of the revolution. Or so it was thought. The effort had the added benefit of making the group harder for law enforcement to infiltrate.
Today the adoption of a transgender identity breaks norms not merely in a symbolic way (as the Weather Underground orgies were thought to do) but allows the radical to adopt a physical identity which is consistent with the Left’s political hierarchy of oppressed classes.
This mindset of constructed classes of oppressed and oppressor dominates even the mainstream liberal Democrat establishment, causing it to adopt what is effectively Antifa-style language.
The Biden Administration has repeatedly reinforced its support for such language, defining state legislatures passing laws in accordance with their constituents’ wishes as literally “fascism.” Only days after a transgender individual murdered Christian children, the Biden Administration rushed to the defense of the transgender movement, issuing a statement calling elected state legislators “MAGA extremists” and the democratic passage of state laws “un-American attacks.” The administration’s rhetoric has been mirrored across the media and cultural spectrum, effectively rewarding terrorist violence with a nationwide platform.
The tolerance for political violence from approved minority communities, will only fuel more radicalism, and more left-wing extremism.