Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of six people, including three schoolchildren, in Monday’s shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.
Statements that the shooter was transgender have led to polarizing comments about gender identity, a topic that has dominated the public conversation in the past year.
While discussing school shootings during a televised broadcast, former President Donald Trump suggested that clinical treatment for gender transitioning could have played a role in the Nashville killings.
A tweet posted Wednesday by Jack Posobiec, which was viewed more than 539,000 times, said: “BREAKING: Trump praises Nashville police response, says the shooter’s aggression was caused by gender hormone treatments and that’s why he banned trans in the military.”
In an attached clip, Trump said: “You know, then you have the unusual case yesterday of what happened with this person and the anger that was caused, that’s something…I banned it in the military because [of] the drugs. The amount of drugs they have to take is so incredible.”
It was not clear at first what Trump was referring to when he said something was “banned in the military” while he was president.
However, in the context of the broader point he was making in the clip about school shootings and the speculation surrounding the shooter, it appears he was talking about the use of hormone treatments for clinical transitions, as Posobiec said.
Trump’s comment about “banning it” in the military appears to refer to his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
Trump provided no evidence that hormone treatments could affect violent tendencies or other behaviors, and any claim that the Nashville shooter was taking drugs is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, media reports that Audrey Hale, 28, was transgender were based on a police statement and the testimony of an unnamed source. It is not clear how these assertions originated or what material they were based on.
A statement Monday from the Trans Journalists Association said that it was “unclear how the police came to that determination.” The association’s guidance is “to not assume someone is cisgender or transgender based on their appearance, gender presentation, or pronouns.”
“Police reports, public documents, or statements from family members can likewise incorrectly identify a person’s gender,” the association added. “Even social media profiles can be misleading, outdated or incomplete.”
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department told Newsweek it had no further information to provide beyond what it has already released.
Crucially, there is simply no evidence that Hale was clinically transitioning through the use of hormone therapy or taking any other medication that could have influenced the decision to commit the shooting.
Relatively little information about Hale from official sources has been forthcoming, so it is possible that further releases may reveal the use of hormone therapy. Until then, the claim Trump makes lacks any evidence.
Newsweek reached out by email to a Trump representative for comment.
A stream of misleading information and misinformation accompanied the news of the Nashville shooting. Fake photos of the shooter spread on social media hours after news about the incident circulated.
Later, a claim that the shooter’s shoes changed before and after Hale was killed at the school by responding police—based on security and bodycam footage—gained popularity. The appearance of changing footwear was actually caused by the quality and various types of footage used.
Relatively little information has been released about the Nashville school shooter. Claims that Hale was transgender came from the police and an unnamed source. It is not clear where these assertions originated and what they are based on.
There is no evidence Hale was taking hormonal therapy or any other treatment for a clinical transition. And Trump provided no such evidence to substantiate his claim.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team
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