A Democratic state representative posted a meme on social media over the weekend showing a woman with a gun saying “Protect Trans Folks,” which she argues has “nothing to do” with the shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, last week.
Democratic State Rep. Karlee Provenza of Wyoming posted the meme on Instagram Saturday, less than a week after Audrey Hale, who identified as transgender according to police, killed three children and three staff members in a school shooting in Nashville, according to a screenshot shared by the Wyoming Freedom Caucus. The meme was of an older woman, named “Auntie Fa” in a potential reference to Antifa, holding a rifle, appearing to imply that violence may be needed to “protect trans folks from fascists and bigots.” (RELATED: CBS Banned Employees From Using ‘Transgender’ When Referring To Nashville Shooter: REPORT)
Provenza defended the post in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The meme has nothing to do with the shooting. Trans people and allys have been cultivating a culture of self-defense for years and this meme is part of that,” Provenza said. “There is a clear difference between the use of guns for mass shootings and the use of guns for self-defense – I would have thought republicans would know that.”
The Wyoming Freedom Caucus called the post a “disgusting call for further violence” in a Twitter post on Sunday.
“Not even one week after a radical transgender activist slaughtered 6 Christians, including 3 children, a Wyoming Legislator for HD45 shares a disgusting call for further violence,” the tweet read.
Not even one week after a radical transgender activist slaughtered 6 Christians, including 3 children, a Wyoming Legislator for HD45 shares a disgusting call for further violence. The Wyoming Legislature’s House Minority Whip should be ashamed of herself. #WYFreedomCaucus pic.twitter.com/BbhM3DV1XU
— Wyoming Freedom Caucus (@WYFreedomCaucus) April 2, 2023
Provenza is the Wyoming Legislature’s House Minority Whip and was elected in November 2022, according to her profile. Her Facebook and Twitter accounts do not have any other posts regarding Hale or the Nashville shooting at the Christian elementary school.
Provenza told the DCNF that the purpose of the post was to remind people that the “government has turned its back on trans communities.”
At the same time that trans people are disproportionately murdered and targeted by violence because of their gender identity, the government has turned its back on trans communities and has passed legislation that strips them of their personal freedoms,” she said. “The intent behind my post is to emphasize the importance of protecting our trans family and friends with the same rights that anyone has the right to – through the use of the Second Amendment.”
Provenza is not the first elected official to come under fire in the wake of the shooting. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs of Arizona was heavily criticized after her now-former press secretary Josselyn Berry posted a GIF on Twitter of a woman with guns saying “Us when we see transphobes.”
Berry resigned soon after the post was discovered, according to a press release from Hobbs.
“The Governor does not condone violence in any form,” Hobbs said. “The post by the Press Secretary is not reflective of the values of the administration. The Governor has received and accepted the resignation of the Press Secretary.”
Following the shooting at Covenant school, media outlets also appeared hesitant to identify Hale as transgender. CBS News reportedly issued a memo to staff that they should “focus on other important points” of the investigation, and CNN removed the word “transgender” from a headline covering the shooting.
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