Police Say the Lakewood Church Shooter Was Cis. The Right Keeps Saying She Was Trans

The suspect in the Texas megachurch shooting on Sunday was not transgender, officials have confirmed. But that hasn’t stopped Republican politicians and conservative media from pushing yet another “trans mass shooter” conspiracy theory.

The shooting occurred on February 11, when 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno allegedly opened fire in Lakewood Church, a large evangelical megachurch in Houston where Joel Osteen serves as senior pastor. Police say they shot and killed Moreno in the ensuing gunfight, during which two others were also “shot in the crossfire” and wounded, including Moreno’s seven-year-old son, according to the Associated Press.

Barely a day after the shooting, right-wing politicians and pundits lined up to claim Moreno was a deranged trans woman, based only on now-debunked evidence. On X, formerly Twitter, anti-LGBTQ+ propagandist Chaya “Libs of TikTok” Raichik claimed that the Lakewood shooting was “[a]nother act of trans terrorism,” and accused “the LGBTQ movement [of] turning youth into violent extremists.” Others swiftly followed suit: Missouri Rep. Josh Hawley wrote Moreno was “a transgender, pro-Palestine radical,” and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene simply called her “a trans from El Salvador.” Donald Trump Jr. and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also boosted the claims on social media this week.

As The Advocate also noted, a Fox News article on Tuesday also claimed Moreno was transgender, but the article was later edited to walk back that claim, after police clarified there was no evidence to support it. (Raichik, Greene, and Cruz’s posts were still online at time of writing.)

The notion that Moreno was trans may have come from confusion over aliases police said Moreno used, as well as names under which she was previously charged. Analysis by the watchdog group Media Matters found that MSNBC also reported Moreno was trans on Tuesday, appearing to draw their information from initial police reports.

Multiple court records dating back as far as 2005 indicate that Moreno always identified herself as a woman regardless of her name, the AP reported, and an attorney who previously represented her said there was “no indication” she was trans. During a press conference this week, police also confirmed that Moreno was the biological mother of the seven-year-old who was critically injured in the shooting.