Photo of trans woman holding gun misrepresented after Nashville shooting
CLAIM: A transgender woman posted a photo of herself holding a gun and calling for violence against Christians, referencing a “Trans Day of Vengeance.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A Twitter account posted a years-old photo of Alana McLaughlin, an MMA fighter and trans woman, holding a gun and falsely suggesting she used the threatening language. McLaughlin confirmed she didn’t author the post.
THE FACTS: A screenshot of the tweet amassed thousands of shares in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting at a private school in Nashville, where police have said the shooter was transgender.
The tweet shows McLaughlin with pink hair and a pink shirt, holding an AR-15 style gun and wearing a Glock-19 pistol with an expanded magazine on her waist, with a pink, blue and white transgender pride flag in the background.
The caption appears to advocate for violence against Christians, including the verbs “kill,” “behead,” “roundhouse,” “slam dunk,” “crucify,” “defecate in” and “launch.”
Some social media posts claimed the tweet was proof McLaughlin was organizing or planning to attend an April 1 protest event outside the U.S. Supreme Court called the “Trans Day of Vengeance.”
But McLaughlin, who lives in Oregon, confirmed she didn’t author the post and was not aware of where this event was taking place or planning to attend.
There is no evidence the Twitter account that originally posted the violent tweet, which was later suspended from the platform, has any ties to the planned event. The event website on Wednesday featured language clarifying that it was “about unity, not inciting violence.”
Noah Buchanan, co-founder of Trans Radical Activist Network, which is organizing the event, also confirmed to the AP in an email that McLaughlin is not affiliated with the protest, and reiterated that it was not intended to be a violent event.
The image of McLaughlin used in social media posts dates to 2020, when it was featured in a Huck Magazine profile about her and other LGBTQ people who said they had decided to arm themselves to stay safe amid violence directed toward their community.
“It is entirely defensive,” said McLaughlin, who added that she arms herself to protect against “escalating right-wing threats.”
McLaughlin said the photo had been misrepresented in other ways in the past, including in posts falsely claiming she was a soldier fighting in Ukraine.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.