Almost as soon as the country was rocked by yet another needless mass shooting, the vitriol against the trans community came in. Multiple news outlets including Fox News and the New York Post focused their attention on the fact that the perpetrator of Tennessee’s Covenant School was transgender.

We got transphobic comments on our social media too. And I’m here to tell those of you who are shifting the blame of this mass shooting onto the trans community that you’re wrong.

According to data collected by the Cleveland Clinic, more than half of transgender students who are out in school, experience verbal harassment. One in four experience physical attacks, and more than 1 in 10 are sexually assaulted. Almost half of trans adults report being verbally harassed in the past year. Data from the Trevor Project’s 2022 report shows that even within the LGBTQ+ community, trans kids are some of the most distressed, with more than half of trans boys considering suicide in the last year and about 22 percent who attempted it.

And do you know why?

More than 80 percent of trans and nonbinary youth mentioned in the report that they are concerned about anti-trans legislation, being denied access to bathrooms that match their gender identity and concerned about being able to play sports. They’re concerned for their basic well being and simple existence.

Last week, I had the pleasure of lecturing high schoolers at UNCSA over the course of two days. I gave presentations about TCB and taught a few classes about writing opinion pieces. At the end of my first day, a student named Finn came up to me and asked if he could read me a poem he wrote in response to an anti-trans policy that his old school district in Hanover County is considering. He said that he loved to write and that he hoped to do it as a career one day. I said of course, and stood while he recited his work to me. 

While the piece is short, it’s an incredibly heartbreaking and moving work that speaks to what it’s like to be a trans or nonbinary person existing in the world today. 

A poem by Finn Dalton @disco_dalton

All he wants — all any person wants, I believe — is to be accepted. To be loved.

Finn is 18 years old. He shouldn’t be worried about being attacked or being ridiculed or assaulted because of who he is. He should be allowed to have menial teenage worries like who they have a crush on or whether or not they’ll be able to pass their next exam.

Instead, this week, he’ll have to deal with yet another wave of attacks on his community. But when a tragedy like this happens, one in which innocent nine-year-olds are killed, the answer isn’t to target yet another marginalized community. It’s to stand up to the lawmakers, the gun lobbyists and others who allow acts of violence like this to continue.

Because trans people are not the problem. They never have been.

Find more of Finn’s writing on Instagram at @disco_dalton

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