QUAY: The Transgender Nashville Shooter Is A Victim Too

(Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Grayson Quay News & Opinion Editor
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The nation continues to mourn after Monday’s shooting at a Nashville Christian school claimed the lives of seven victims.

That’s right. Seven. Three children, the head of the school, a substitute teacher, a janitor and the shooter herself — Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old former student who identified as a transgender man. Hale lost her life to ideological possession, the other six died at the hands of the ideologically possessed.

Photos on Hale’s mother’s Facebook page show a happy, beautiful little girl who once scribbled “I <3 God” in a devotional book. As she grows up, awkwardness sets in, as it often does for pubescent girls. The tween years are difficult for anyone who’s a little different, and a source close to the Hale family tells the Daily Beast that Audrey was on the autism spectrum.

It’s possible that Audrey’s classmates, teachers and family sometimes failed to love her as they should have. No one is perfect. But when Audrey felt confused and misunderstood, as so many young girls do, a predatory ideology that prowls the internet seeking the ruin of souls like hers would have been all too willing to offer her comfort.

There’s a lot that’s still unclear. We know Audrey started using he/him pronouns and going by Aiden sometime after she graduated from art school. Police confirmed Tuesday that she was receiving treatment for an unspecified “emotional disorder,” but we don’t know whether she ever expressed feelings of gender dysphoria to a therapist or pediatrician. 

She would have done so at her peril. The American Association of Pediatrics, which sets standards for the profession, has been entirely captured by transgender ideologues who believe in foisting transition on confused (often autistic) children who express discomfort with their bodies. Therapists also face significant institutional (and sometimes legal) pressure to affirm a patient’s “gender identity.” The next step would have been medical interventions, which rely on off-label drugs with unknown long-term effects. At every turn, healthcare professionals would have fast-tracked Audrey into the affirmation-to-transition pipeline, failing to provide the help she truly needed.

Even if she steered clear of the radicalized medical establishment, Audrey could still have encountered transgender ideology on social media. The role TikTok, Instagram and other platforms play in spreading transgenderism is well documented at this point. An instant community of people who promise to name and cure free-floating teenage angst would be a powerful temptation to someone like Audrey. Research suggests that young autistic girls are particularly susceptible to this social contagion.

These voices would have encouraged her to blame her problems on anyone who was insufficiently affirming, to despise her parents and the faith in which she was raised. Authorities say Audrey planned to target family members in addition to her former school. (RELATED: Trans Shooter’s Preferred Target Had Too Much Security, Official Says)

Over time, Audrey would have found herself drawn inexorably into a militant activist movement. Online trans activists often refer to an ongoing trans “genocide” or to Republican bills that “criminalize” their “existence” by keeping gender ideology out of classrooms and sex-change hormones out of minors’ bloodstreams. For many, the solution is violent resistance. In February, NPR ran a segment reporting that “[m]ass shootings targeting LGBTQ spaces and a rise in anti-trans rhetoric have inspired some queer people to take up arms.” Trans activists were planning a “day of vengeance,” set to take place April 1 in Washington, D.C. Pro-trans T-shirts feature images of guns and knives with slogans like “Protect Trans Kids” and “Trans Rights Or Else.” Feminists who oppose performing sex changes on young children or placing biological males in women’s prisons find themselves violently threatened or even physically attacked

Police have yet to release Audrey’s manifesto, but it seems likely that she had come to view the children she killed as future genocidal maniacs and the adults as complicit in perpetuating fascism.

Perhaps most tragically, it appears Audrey had people in her life who loved her for exactly who she was. “I think I lost my daughter today,” her mother, Norma, told ABC News. In Facebook posts dating back years, she said she was “grateful” to be Audrey’s mom and praised a picture of her “sweet daughter” despite the androgynous style Audrey had adopted by that point.

Averianna Patton, who played middle school basketball with Audrey, may have been the last person to talk to the shooter. Audrey messaged Averianna on Instagram to say she was “planning to die today” and signed her message with the name “Audrey,” adding “Aiden” in parentheses. She also called Averianna “the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and known all my life.” (RELATED: ‘I’m Planning To Die Today’: Nashville School Shooter’s Final Messages Revealed)

“Audrey!” Averianna responded. “You have so much more life to live. I pray God keeps and covers you.” She also contacted a suicide hotline on Audrey’s behalf.

Both Norma and Averianna showed love to Audrey, but neither felt that they had to validate her delusions in order to do so. This is love according to its classical definition — willing the good of the other. It appears that Audrey was convinced to reject that love in favor of a cheap knock-off called “affirmation.” And now, because she believed those lies, seven families and an entire community will never be the same. The task ahead of us is to speak truth in love to children like Audrey, both for their sake and the sake of their potential future victims.

Grayson Quay is an editor at the Daily Caller.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.