A national demonstration to protest a host of anti-transgender measures in the United States, which had been set to take place on April 1 in Washington, D.C., has been canceled in the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting in Tennessee.
Organizers behind the “Trans Day of Vengeance,” a protest against a swath of anti-transgender legislation and policies being proposed in various states, as well as attempts to silence or erase transgender and gender-nonconforming people from society, said the event was canceled due to concerns over participants’ safety.
The Trans Radical Activist Network, along with the activist collective Our Rights DC, which organized the event, noted that the event had received blowback following the revelation that the assailant in the recent mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville identified as transgender.
“This action will not be taking place Saturday due to a credible threat to life and safety,” the organization wrote in posts on social media. “The safety of our trans community is first priority. This threat is the direct result of the flood of raw hatred directed toward the trans community after the Tennessee shooting.”
Full statement in thread: pic.twitter.com/Y4xPOzl4tb
— Our Rights DC (@OurRightsDC) March 30, 2023
The statement continued: “Individuals who had nothing to with that heinous act have been subjected to highly serious threats and blamed only because of their gender identity. This is one of the steps in genocide, and we will continue our efforts to protect trans lives.
“While we wholeheartedly believe in the mission and message we put forth for Trans Day of Vengeance, we must prioritize the safety of our community and the people that make it up. In an ideal world, we would have continued on in defiance of the attempt to silence our right to free expression. However, we lack the resources to ensure the safety of the protest and cannot in good conscience move forward with it,” organizers added. “In our continued efforts to preserve trans and nonbinary life we have notified the appropriate agencies.”
The event was criticized by many, especially those on the political Right seeking to cast transgender people as violent, mentally unstable, or a threat to the larger society. Following the Nashville shooting, many right-wing politicians and pundits sought to portray the transgender community as deranged and obsessed with enacting violence against Christians who oppose homosexuality and gender-nonconformity.
Many critics pointed to the event’s name as “evidence” that organizers’ intentions were anything but peaceful, with even Ella Irwin, Twitter’s Trust and Safety lead, taking a side and condemning organizers’ rhetoric.
“We had to automatically sweep our platform and remove >5000 tweets/retweets of this poster,” Irwin tweeted. “We do not support tweets that incite violence irrespective of who posts them. ‘Vengeance’ does not imply peaceful protest. Organizing or support for peaceful protests is ok.”
Organizers of the “Trans Day of Vengeance” had previously argued that “vengeance” was not about promoting violence but showing up in person to express anger and frustration over the oppression and violence to which members of the transgender community are routinely subjected.
‘This protest is about unity, not inciting violence. TRAN does not encourage violence and it is not welcome at this event,” organizers said in a past statement on their website.
They also condemned the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, and rejected attempts to link the perpetrator in that event with the group’s agenda.
“Vengeance means fighting back with vehemence,” organizers said in a statement. “We are fighting against false narratives, criminalization, and eradication of our existence. It is also a call to allies to stand up and fight with us to bring down the forces that try to divide and subjugate us all.”
John Drake, the chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, has previously said authorities believe The Covenant School was targeted in the mass shooting, but not specific individuals at the school. He noted that investigators had found a “manifesto” and other writings indicating the attack was premeditated but declined to speculate on the shooter’s motive.
When asked whether the Nashville shooter’s gender identity may have played a role in their decision to target the school, Drake replied: “There is some theory to that, we’re investigating all the leads,” and declined to speculate further.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!