I have been expecting a mass shooting at a gay bar for at least a year. This is not because I’m clairvoyant, but because I am a gay person with eyes and ears. The mass-murder at Club Q in Colorado Springs on November 19 was the result of what is now all-too-familiar rhetoric—a campaign that is both a cynical attempt to gain political power and a conscious effort to inspire stochastic violence that murders gay and trans people on the theory that there should be fewer of us.
The only reason this hasn’t happened in the UK yet is because we don’t have the same access to guns. The rhetoric may be (slightly) milder, albeit not online, but there is the same intent: to create a climate of fear and rage against trans people that encourages someone to act violently. It’s hardly a new tactic: the line “will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?” is attributed to Henry the second, and he was kicking about in the twelfth century.
What liberals are desperate to call “legitimate debates” are united with the cruder, crasser incitement of less-sophisticated reactionaries by the same underlying argument: that some nebulous group of queer and trans “activists” are pushing an “agenda” that might permanently mutilate children, who must be protected from the threat. Matt Walsh and Chris Rufo say it’s drag queens committing sexual abuse in gay bars. Abigail Shrier says it’s the “transgender craze seducing our daughters” into “Irreversible Damage.” The liberal outlets describe it as misguided doctors and activists going too far, contributing to a social contagion of trans kids. All of them are making versions of the same argument designed to convince different audiences of the same age-old blood libel about queer people: that we are preternatural abusers from whom your children need protecting.