It was impossible not to hear about Parkland and Newtown, Las Vegas or Orlando. The coverage was everywhere, words of condolence and outrage proclaimed on every social media platform available.
So why did the nation not react after a man went to a trans* club with a gun and started shooting?
On Friday, February 23rd, a man walked by the Las Vegas Lounge bar and started shooting at the window. It’s important to note that the window proudly bears the trans* flag. It’s also important to note that the flag makes the window opaque, meaning that the shooter couldn’t have seen who he was shooting at, but rather was simply targeting the establishment itself.
Callie Lou-Bee Haywoods, a black trans woman, leg was shattered after being shot in the leg. At least one other person was reported as injured, but fortunately, no one died.
The suspect has not yet been found.
The above information is almost all of the information you’ll be able to find about this event. There have been no interviews with the victim whose leg was shattered and very few published responses from the community who was affected.
You could try to make the argument that as the U.S. already suffers an epidemic of shootings, perhaps this one wasn’t covered because no one died. But I also don’t buy it, because recently a teacher in Georgia shot his gun while in a locked classroom and didn’t even injure anyone, and yet it was covered fairly extensively.
It’s clear that the Las Vegas Lounge shooting lacks coverage not because of what happened but because of who the victims were.
People took to Twitter to denounce the media’s lack of coverage of the shooting and have also criticized the silence of the LGBTQ community as a whole. Just because no one died doesn’t mean that this event wasn’t significant. This man entered a public space with the intent to murder people that already face heightened acts of violence against them. There are only three trans* bars in the entire country, only three public places made just for trans* people, and, most importantly, feel safe.
While this shooter didn’t kill anyone, the implications of his actions are important.
This weekend, a trans bar was shot up. Las Vegas Lounge is the only transgender club in Las Vegas, and one of only THREE left in the US. Someone shot through windows draped in the trans flag, targeting the people inside. Where is the coverage? https://t.co/pYqDOTm4Ku
— Mahdia Lynn (@MahdiaLynn) February 27, 2018
Y’all a trans club got shot up near the end of February. Why has this not been talked about? https://t.co/o2HYtlrfvR
— Sincarnate (@Fruitybuddha) March 5, 2018
Two crimes to report:
— Vinnie Amendolare (@MrVAmen) March 4, 2018
It becomes very obvious when searching for information about the shooting just how different other events like it are reported. Local Las Vegas newspapers, like this one, stick to cold, impersonal facts. There is no emotion or expressions of horror or sorrow. Contrast that with an article like this one about the Parkland shooting, and you can see an egregious double standard.
The thing is, we shouldn’t even have to be comparing atrocities like these. The fact that someone tried to kill a group of people should be met with outrage. The Las Vegas Lounge shooting has been mostly met with silence, which sends a very loud message: trans* lives are worth less.
The U.S. prides itself in its journalism, in its ability to report events critically and freely. We live in an era with a capacity to share information with ease. There is no excuse for the lack of coverage of this shooting. What does such selective reporting really say about this country?
It’s important to stay aware of the things that everyone talks about, but perhaps even more important to stay aware of the things that no one is talking about. There’s usually always a reason why.