What is Salvador Ramos’ gender? The rumors debunked

In the aftermath of the Texas shooting that caused the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, people are searching for someone to blame. The obvious blame lies on the suspected shooter, Salvador Ramos, and the slipshod gun control laws that allowed him to purchase two assault rifles on his 18th birthday. 

However, members of the far-right, who are opposed to strict gun control, have concocted something else to blame: Salvador’s alleged sexual and racial identity. This deleted tweet by Rep. Paul Gosar, An Arizona Republican, summarizes the far rights’ view:

“We know already fool. It’s a transsexual leftist illegal alien named Salvatore Ramos. It’s apparently your kind of trash.”

Contrary to far-right propaganda, Salvador Ramos was not transgender

The rumors claiming that Salvador Ramos was transgender started on the forum website 4chan. A user posted a photo posted by a Reddit user, Sam, who is transgender, and falsely claimed that the picture portrayed Salvador as transgender. 

Far-right conspiracy politicians, commentators, and media, including InfoWars, picked up the false narrative, contributing to its rapid spread on the internet. 

Despite numerous credible sources verifying that the picture posted wasn’t Salvatore’s, the far-right kept spreading the allegation that Salvador Ramos was transgender. 

“This isn’t the first time I was harassed, but it is the first time I’ve been accused of murder,” Sam told NBC News. The 4chan user who originated the story directed people to Sam’s Reddit account, writing: ‘here’s the shooter’s Reddit.” 

Some netizens used other photos of two transgender women to support their theory. They created collages that placed pictures of these women alongside Salvador’s alleged Instagram page. 

Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who was found liable for defamation for spreading misinformation about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, labeled Salvador as transgender. 

Candace Owens, a conservative commentator, referenced made-up ‘cross-dressing’ photos she’d seen of Ramos to support the misinformation. Owens unsuccessfully sued Facebook for attaching a fact-check warning on one of her posts. 

The far-right spread these rumors to deflect focus from real issues, inadvertently fanning the flames of hate against the transgender community. Trans Safety Network, a group that monitors hatred against the transgender community, affirmed that three women used to spread misinformation were alive. 

Still, Sam felt it necessary to post a photo on Reddit affirming that she had no links to the shooting suspect. “It’s not me, I don’t even live in Texas,” she wrote. She replied to a comment, saying she just wants ‘to live without being attacked when I leave my house.’

A victim of the lies says social media companies aren’t doing enough to protect the trans community

NBC News found that social media companies had done little to quell misinformation about Salvador’s gender, despite such posts violating their policies. 

“In line with our synthetic and manipulated media policy, we will require Tweets to be removed if they contain media that present false or misleading context surrounding the identity of the perpetrator,” a Twitter spokesperson told the outlet. 

A Meta spokesperson told NBC that it was taking down posts violating its Bullying & Harassment Policy. However, Sam said that the social media companies relied on reporting instead of proactively removing posts. 

“They’ve been relying on me and others to report the misinformation before doing anything,” Sam told NBC News

Trans advocates have led the online push back against the attempt to falsely label Salvador Ramos a transgender person. Rainbow Youth Project, a non-profit welfare organization for LGBTQIA+ youth, tweeted:

“Thanks to @RepGosar transgender people are facing a new false narrative of hate and bigotry and are at further risk of harassment. Gosar used photos of trans young person unrelated to the TX school shooting to claim the shooter was a ‘transexual leftist illegal alien.’”

One would think that social media companies should act quickly to stop the spread of such lies, given that such rumors emerge nearly every time there’s a mass shooting in the United States. 

Following the April 2018 shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in California, far-right websites speculated that the shooter was transgender. In 2015, conservative commentators claimed that the Planned Parenthood shooter was transgender.

“It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist,” Senator Ted Cruz said. Cassandra Roxborough, a journalist covering transgender rights, talked about the conservatives’ ploy when starting and spreading these false rumors. She tweeted:

“I’m not even surprised that Republicans are spreading a false claim that the shooter in Texas is trans. It tracks with their policies which vilify and harm trans people in the USA. The problem is never gun safety—it’s always something else.”

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