Opinions

The Club Q Shooter Isn’t Transgender

Aiden Lutjen, staff writer

On Nov. 20, a massacre took place at Club Q, an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With five people dead and 19 injured, waves of mourning spread across the country, especially so in the families, friends and communities of the victims. When I saw the news myself, I felt sick, and my mind immediately flashed back to the Pulse club shooting in June 2016. All I could think was “not again,” hoping this was all a nightmare onset by my workload and stress. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and you can only imagine the further horror as updates came in during the following days. One headline took over practically everything else that had happened: “Club Q shooter is nonbinary, defense says.”

I shouldn’t be surprised that Anderson Lee Aldrich and his defense have stooped to this level to try and avoid hate crime charges. What really gets to me, however, is how the media — especially conservative and alt-right sources — jumped on this little tidbit of information like starving animals. Now Aldrich’s alleged nonbinary identity is being weaponized against the LGBTQ community, being treated as a justification for intense and violent homophobia and transphobia. This also shouldn’t surprise me, for these people have proven themselves to be so insanely desperate for some kind of validation for their hatred that they will use even the smallest of scraps as some pathetic gotcha-moment.

Some of you may be wondering why I have the guts to say that Aldrich isn’t nonbinary, as his defense team claims. After all, being transgender is an extremely personal experience, and not one person will show signs of it if it’s hidden well enough — I would know from personal experience as a transgender man. So by default, shouldn’t I and other transgender individuals, of all people, be the ones to accept Aldrich’s claim? No.

The problem here is a multitude of things, and much of it has to do with how the LGBTQ community is viewed by others. First, let’s say Aldrich actually is nonbinary, and this isn’t a pathetic excuse of an attempt to avoid hate crime charges. Why does that matter? Someone can still commit a hate crime against a marginalized community while being a part of that very community, whether that’s evident or not. It’s not just outsiders who can kill in the name of hatred, so the claim of Aldrich being nonbinary is irrelevant and deserves no attention.

Secondly, why is this claim coming from the mass shooter’s defense team and not the killer himself? I wouldn’t be surprised if the defense team came up with this and Aldrich just went with it for the slight possibility that he could avoid at least a few charges. Aldrich himself has never said anything about being LGBTQ, and even his own father was more concerned about his kid possibly being gay than him being a mass murderer — so that really says something about the environment he was raised in.

Lastly, why are homophobic, transphobic people suddenly parading this around as some kind of saving-grace fact? For ages, they’ve passionately claimed that being transgender or gay isn’t real, much less nonbinary. So, why the sudden change? Because it’s convenient for them. There’s nothing else to it. These people will run with absolutely anything to justify their rabid phobias, clearly evident in literally any recent anti-LGBTQ bill. All these people care about is justifying their existing toxic and violent biases. So yes, conservative and alt-right media sources and people will, in fact, treat the “Aldrich is actually nonbinary” thing as some kind of fact. Take a moment to think about a mass murderer’s defense team’s claims before taking it as fact and spreading it like wildfire. The consequences of believing these hate-fueled claims are marginalized people’s lives.