In the early hours of Friday morning, an unknown individual shot into Las Vegas’ only transgender club, injuring at least two people. The windows were covered in bright ads along with a trans flag bearing a silhouetted image of a woman below the bar’s name, the Las Vegas Lounge.
It’s worth recounting this image not to set the scene but also to make the observation: the shooter could not have seen inside to target any individual.
Black trans woman Callie Lou-Bee Haywood was injured in the shooting and was taken to the hospital. She reported on Facebook that “the bullets shattered my bones and they’re broken in my leg!”
“This pain is beyond excruciating,” she wrote in a comment.
As Haywood also noted on Facebook, the circumstances surrounding the attackindicate it was a message that “trans people are not welcome here.” The details are still being released, but the attack was followed by another tragedy to which trans people are all too: The shooting received almost no media coverage.
From Stonewall to the Black Cat Protests, bars have been a place where transgender people gather to resist, but where they are also targeted.
Bars are historically some of the only spaces where trans people could come together and meet one another. The Las Vegas Lounge is one of these rare centers for trans people to congregate, with only three transgender bars remaining in the whole country (the other two are in San Francisco and Boston).
Where is the outrage about this attack? Stonewall and the Black Cat Protests received large amounts of media attention that undeniably led to the mass movements in the present. We would not be the community we are today without these events.
The two local publications that reported on the attack failed to even mention that the Las Vegas Lounge is a transgender club. The Las Vegas Review-Journal only offered an 80-word article on the subject, and FOX5 KVVU similarly devoted 86 words to the incident. This complete lack of attention communicates that transgender people are unimportant to media and our lives don’t matter.
The Feb 23.attack occurred over a year and a half after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, which sparked national conversations about anti-queer violence. The Las Vegas Lounge, however, has yet to ignite much outrage. Days later there have been no updates or outcry against the shooting. The shooter remains unidentified and no actions have been taken by the police, media, or general public.
If we are going to do something about this, we have to share our own narratives and garner attention against the continued abhorrent attacks of transgender people, particularly black trans women.
Haywood’s frustration comes with a history of silence of the violence against trans women, as far back as the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally. Stonewall veteran Sylvia Rivera interrupted the parade during her famous “Y’all Better Quiet Down” speech, where she recognized the struggles of street queens, sex workers, and trans youth. The white, cisgender audience booed her in retaliation for briefly stopping their event.
To gain attention for our movements, we need to be able to share our narratives with the public. People must understand the horrific violence against transgender people, which they only can from our own voices. Bullets shattered her Haywood’s fibula and tibia.
But even the most progressive mainstream and queer media have done nothing to mend these wounds. Jennifer Hallie, the Lounge’s general manager, also spoke out on Facebook.
Hallie’s comment makes it clear the attack was not about any individual but about transgender people everywhere. It was not an isolated incident. According to a recentGLAAD study,general support for LGBTQ people is declining during an administration where the rights of trans people are constantly under attack.
When media companies don’t see anti-transgender violence as profitable, they often ignore it altogether. It is then our imperative to share our narratives where we can. We can (and should) be outraged when our community is attacked. With Trump provoking hatred of trans people and Betsy DeVos revoking our basic rights in education, we must take a stand against these injustices.
INTO has reached out to both Haywood and Hallie for comment but neither responded as of press time. A fundraiser at the bar will take place on Friday, March 2 to raise funds for Haywood’s injuries.