Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Girls Don’t Kill: Dissecting the Gender of Violence After Nashville

By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

Another day, another school shooting. It seems to happen every week in this shithole country. Probably because it pretty much literally does. We’ve had 19 of these goddamn things in the first few months of 2023 alone and scariest thing is how normal it all feels. One massacre bleeds into the next like a rerun of some sick Nikelodean rendition of the Grand Guignol. I’ve seen this one before and it’s on every single channel. The plot is always the same. Another playground turned into a graveyard for tiny shrunken corpses. Another pissed-off kid with a gun trying to tell us something with the only machine loud enough to steal our attention away from the hypnotic spell of the matrix in our phones. Another news cycle devoted to partisan handwringing and vulture’s eye footage of the scene of the crime. Just another day in paradise during the Kali Yuga. Only this time it was different. This time that pissed off kid with a gun was trans and the latest episode of America’s favorite snuff series was something far worse than just familiar to me. It was painfully intimate.

Aiden Hall was a 28-year-old transman who returned to a conservative Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee where he had spent a short but undoubtedly painful chapter of his youth to kill three adults and three children before committing suicide-by-cop. No one knows for sure what drove Aiden to commit such an unspeakably cruel act of violence but it’s hard not to recognize that it occurred against the backdrop of an unprecedented campaign by conservative lawmakers to erase transgender people or that Tennessee has become this final solution’s ground zero. After all, this shooting occurred just days before that state enacted an “anti-drag” law so broad that it essentially affords its cops with the power to regulate gender performance like some kind of Wahabi Christain theocracy.

Of course, the timing of this horror show wasn’t lost on the Christian right and rather than approach it as a teachable lesson on the dangers of mass demonization they have chosen instead to exploit the hell out of it in order to double down on their campaign to eradicate “transgenderism.” Aiden Hall didn’t become a tragic high-water mark for the volatile blowback that often comes with state sanctioned bigotry. He became the poster child for everything that the Jesus-hates-you set want you to believe about trannies like me. Suddenly, we’re not just grooming your children, we’re also arming ourselves to the teeth to shoot them in the face while they pray. It was right around this moment in the news cycle that my PTSD caught up with me and I suffered the first of several panic attacks related to this shooting and the twisted campaign by the right to package it as part of the transgender lifestyle.

I have more than a few things in common with Mr. Hall. I spent 11 years at a conservative Catholic school as a closeted Queer child and these weren’t exactly the happiest moments of my life. My decade-long sentence at that parochial gulag began with some cis gender adult putting their hands on me in a pre-school bathroom and it ended with those same fine folks accusing me of plotting a school shooting for being a little bit messed-up from the experience. Thoughts of vengeance against my tormentors are not alien to me. In fact, my more committed readers will probably recognize them as a major hallmark of my literary modus operandi. But my target has never been people, not even the ones who personally savaged my childhood. My target has always been the power systems that grant petty adults with the authority to crush kids just for being weird. But that doesn’t make it any less painful to have a bunch of those same petty adults accuse my entire tribe of being defined by destroying the voiceless little creatures that I still see broken pieces of myself in every day.


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