As a Queer person, parent, and activist, I am united in grief, horror, and rage with LGBTQIA+ communities and our allies over the unacceptable violence and loss of life that occurred at Club Q in Colorado Springs on November 19, 2022. At Pro-Choice Washington, our work is rooted in the recognition that the movements for reproductive freedom and Queer liberation are inextricably interwoven and cannot succeed without mutual solidarity and commitment to everyone’s self-determination.
When I first heard about the shooting at Club Q, like many of you, I felt numb. The relentlessness of mass shootings in America weighs heavily on our collective humanity and mental wellbeing. Like many, I struggle to find the balance of when to engage with the trauma created by the intersecting crises of violence, racism, and misogyny and when to create space from it.
This time, when I learned about the news, I saw the face of Daniel Aston, a beautiful trans man whose life was cut short – a face that looks startlingly like that of my own spouse. Suddenly, this loss felt too close to home.
The ongoing acts of violence against Queer and trans communities in the U.S. are painful, but not surprising. Like attacks on abortion clinics, houses of worship, and communities of color, they are the inevitable outcome of hateful rhetoric and policies that aim to dehumanize and criminalize our bodies.
Racism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred are intertwined and embedded in the soil of American politics, and when they are allowed to flourish, the inevitable outcome is violence. The same lawmakers and groups that deny LGBTQIA+ people the right to lifesaving gender-affirming care, inclusion in public accommodations, and even the right to exist, are also taking away the right to abortion, contraceptives, and other reproductive care for everyone.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose appointment to the Supreme Court all but guaranteed the end of Roe v. Wade, has deep ties to anti-LGBTQIA+ hate groups. Across the country, the rise of hateful “Don’t Say Gay” laws, the criminalization of gender affirming care, and anti-drag performance ordinances align with the rollback of abortion rights and anti-democratic attacks on voting rights.
The life-affirming work of confronting and dismantling systems of hate can feel overwhelming. The fact that the shooting at Club Q happened on Trans Day of Remembrance/Resilience serves as a clear reminder that targeted violence against transgender people, particularly Black trans women and femmes, is a reality that Queer and trans communities have to navigate everyday.
The work of love, care, and resilience is challenging yet necessary. Our lives, our dreams, our unapologetic identities, and our expansive ways we make our families belong only to us. And we will protect them together. We cannot give up.
Our entire team at Pro-Choice Washington offers our deepest condolences to the families who have been directly impacted by this tragic loss. To the members of our staff, boards, and community for whom this loss hits close to home, we see you. We offer our heartfelt love and support to you. Thank you for being in this movement with us.
P.S. If you want to support human rights for Queer and trans people here in Washington, please consider donating to our friends at the Gender Justice League.