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Transgender community disgusted by ‘sick’ false rumors about Uvalde shooter

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is seen during a press conference on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 to release a report about those who were arrested for Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol entitled ‘Unusually Cruel: An Eyewitness Report from Inside the D.C. Jail.’
Greg Nash

Transgender advocates and activists have responded with outrage to a rumor perpetuated by ultra-conservative Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) that a gunman who killed more than a dozen children in Uvalde, Texas this week was a transgender woman.

The baseless claim first appeared on the forum website 4chan, where infrequent moderation has made the website a breeding ground for hate speech and misinformation. According to reports, the photos of several transgender women were posted to the site and each falsely identified as the shooter who killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.

The actual gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed on the scene by responding police officers. He was not transgender.

But claims that Ramos was a transgender woman still spread rapidly online, eventually reaching the halls of Congress. In a now-deleted tweet, Gosar, a Republican from Arizona who was recently recognized as the most conservative member of Congress by the American Conservative Union Foundation, on Tuesday called Ramos a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.”

Gosar’s tweet remained live for more than two hours before it was deleted, according to media reports. Gosar’s office did not respond to Changing America’s request for comment.

Uproar from transgender activists was swift.

“This has GOT to stop,” Erin Reed, a prominent transgender advocate, wrote Tuesday evening on Twitter

“A sitting congressman just spread a lie about the Texas shooter to pin it on transgender people spread by troll sites, in a state where they are spending more time banning trans kids than they are spending regulating guns,” Reed wrote, referencing investigations in Texas into parents that have allowed their transgender and nonbinary children to receive gender-affirming medical care. “This is absolutely SICK.”

In another tweet, advocate Charlotte Clymer, whose online following nears 400,000, wrote that Gosar “owes the public an apology.”

“It’s pathetic that @DrPaulGosar sought to exploit this horrific tragedy for anti-trans propaganda,” Clymer wrote early Wednesday alongside a screenshot of Gosar’s tweet. “There is zero evidence that the shooter is transgender.”

But comments from LGBTQ+ voices in Congress were noticeably absent. The Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, which works to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, has not commented publicly on Gosar’s perpetuation of the rumor that Ramos was transgender.

Neither the Equality Caucus nor its Chair, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D), responded to Changing America’s request for comment.

Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton (Va.), Marie Newman (Ill.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), co-chairs of the Equality Caucus’ Transgender Equality Task Force, did not answer Changing America’s request for comment. None of them have responded to Gosar’s tweet.

Tags David Cicilline Paul Gosar Uvalde shooting

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