Fact Check-Majority of US mass shooters are cis men, not transgender or non-binary people

by Reuters
Monday, 3 April 2023 08:22 GMT

A view of a memorial in front of Club Q after a mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S. November 26, 2022. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing

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A list of perpetrators in four shootings in the U.S. who identified as transgender or non-binary represent the minority of suspects in mass shootings

A list of perpetrators in four shootings in the U.S. who identified as transgender or non-binary represent the minority of suspects in mass shootings, but users online are sharing the list without this context. Data collection on mass shootings varies by methodology, but experts told Reuters data shows the majority of mass shootings are carried out by cisgender men.

Cisgender refers to people who identify as the sex assigned to them at birth, while transgender is an umbrella term for those who do not, and non-binary is for those who do not identify exclusively as a man or woman, according to the Human Rights Campaign (here).

One tweet said: “The Colorado Springs shooter identified as non binary. The Denver shooter identified as trans. The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. The Nashville shooter identified as trans. One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists” (here). Another example can be seen (here). Other posts with similar language can be seen (here).


The posts mention a “Nashville shooter,” which appears to reference the recent school shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27, where the suspect, identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale by police, reportedly identified as transgender (here).

The “Colorado Springs shooter” refers to Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is accused of a killing five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in November 2022, and whose lawyers have asserted identifies as non-binary and prefers they/them pronouns (here). (Skepticism over Aldrich’s assertion has since arisen, with extremism experts and people who knew the shooter weighing in, more on that here ).

The “Denver shooter” in the posts refers to a shooting at a charter school in Denver, Colorado, in May 2019. Alec McKinney, a transgender teenager, was sentenced to life in prison following the shooting, Reuters reported at the time (here).

The “Aberdeen shooter” appears to reference Snochia Moseley, the suspect of a shooting at a Rite Aid Corp facility in Aberdeen, Maryland (here). Some news reports said Moseley identified as transgender (bit.ly/3ZpwMMQ), (bit.ly/3LX7DWF).


Calculating exact percentages when it comes to mass shooting statistics in the U.S. varies by way of counting, as organizations define mass shootings in different ways.

A spokesperson for The Violence Project, which records data on mass shootings in the U.S. since 1966 with “four or more” people killed in public (here), told Reuters via email that “Nashville is the first case of a trans” perpetrator in their database and per their methodology. They sent Reuters a database of shootings with 190 entries.

The Gun Violence Archive, which began collecting data on gun violence in the U.S. in 2013 (here), (here), recorded more than 4,400 mass shootings in the last decade, Executive Director Mark Bryant told Reuters via email. Its definition of mass shooting is four or more people shot resulting in injury or death (excluding the perpetrator).

Of those, “the number of known suspects in mass shootings which are trans is under 10 for the last decade,” which translated to “1:880 [or 0.11%] of the 4,400 shootings” they recorded, he said.

Further, the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC), which studies all forms of targeted violence including mass casualty attacks, published a report with data from 2016 to 2020 (here).

The report examined 173 attacks in the U.S. that “that resulted in harm to three or more individuals in public locations,” Justine Whelan, press secretary for the U.S. Secret Service, told Reuters via email, and “three attackers (2%) were transgender, assigned female at birth, but were known to identify as male at the time of their attacks.”

Whelan said that consistent with previous analyses of mass attacks, “nearly all of the attackers,” or 96%, in the study were male, and the remaining five attackers were female.

In terms of the gender breakdown, the Violence Project also found that 168 (97.7%) of mass shooters in their database up to March 2021 were men (scroll to “explore the shooters” section, select gender “female” box among selections) (here).

Reuters reported on studies in mid-2022 that found about 0.5% of U.S. adults identify as transgender, and about 1.3% of 13 to 17-year-olds (here).


Missing context. Most mass shootings or violent gun attacks in the U.S. carried are out by cisgender men.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts (here).

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